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Crack sealing is a first defense against pavement deterioration offering several important benefits. Effective crack sealing keeps water from entering and weakening the base or sub-base. It helps preserve the pavement adjacent to the cracks; prevents sand, stone, and dirt from making its way into open cracks causing compressive stresses; and extends pavement life by minimizing crack growth.
Proper attention to cracks prevents problems from spreading and doubles the life of the pavement. Pavement repair in early stages of deterioration pay big dividends later delaying costly resurfacing.
Reflective cracks happen when an existing crack or joint in the underlying pavement structure reflects upward through the surface. Reflective cracks are primarily in resurfacing projects, but low severity cracks can occur in new pavement. Reflective cracking shortens the service life of overlays on asphalt and concrete pavement.
Visually, this type of cracking forms a square pattern, with cracks intersecting each other at nearly right angles. A common cause of this on parking lots is lack of traffic, (steady traffic constantly kneads the pavement and keeps it flexible). Other causes include excessive air voids, low-penetration asphalt, or an overly high plant mix temperature.
Edge cracks appear only parallel to and within 18 inches of the edge of the pavement. Causes include poor base, lack of shoulder support, poor drainage, or frost action.
Pavement “joints” are created during initial construction when the edges of two pavement mats are placed next to each other. These constructed joints usually have a lower density of asphalt than that of the surrounding pavement. If the mats don’t bond properly (for a variety of reasons), joint cracks appear.
Slippage cracks are usually crescent-shaped and caused by heavy traffic that is stopping, turning, or climbing a hill. Resultant stresses cause a bond failure between the upper and lower pavement layers. The open end of the U-shaped crack always points in the direction of the applied force.
Over time, a flexible asphalt pavement becomes more rigid and is less able to tolerate vertical deflections. This causes tension in the pavement and results in alligator-type cracking. Such cracking can also occur from structural inadequacy, aging, and oxidation.
It is generally recommended that alligator areas be removed and replaced rather than filled or sealed.