In order to maximize the life of your asphalt driveway or parking lot, and protect your investment against deterioration, it is important to create a plan for maintaining your pavement that includes routine inspections and maintenance. Sealcoating is the first line of defense, followed by sealing cracks. First, let’s talk about the main causes of cracking.
What Causes Cracking?
- Oxidation – as asphalt oxidizes, it loses the ability to flex when driven upon and becomes more brittle. Cracks typically first appear on higher traffic areas and along seams. These types of cracks are usually longer and straighter and can be easily sealed with rubber crack sealant.
- Moisture – water can get in to the creases and crevices in the asphalt, and break down the paved surface over time. Drainage is a design and construction element that, when not considered, can allow water to pool and cause more damage over time.
- Sun Exposure – the heat from the sun can break down the binding agent in the asphalt and cause the surface to be compromised.
- Ground Movements – earthquakes and storms can cause the earth to shift, which moves the base layer and can result in voids in the sub-grade. Extreme heat and cool cause frost and thaw which also causes the ground to shift and the asphalt to expand and contract. Furthermore, changes in sub grade moisture content caused by heavy rain and droughts can cause the clay in the sub grade to expand and contract, which adds to the strain on the asphalt surface.
- Construction Inadequacies – areas with heavy traffic will undergo more wear and tear, which can adversely affect the pavement structure if it was not designed to support such conditions.
What Can Be Done About Cracks?
Cracks between 1/8 of an inch and 2 inches can be sealed with a standard rubberized asphalt sealant. A regular maintenance program that includes sealing and crack sealing can slow down the rate of oxidation of the base layer and prevent moisture from entering the underlying layers, causing accelerated deterioration. If performed in an effective and timely manner, crack sealing is expected to extend pavement life and improve pavement performance.
Are the cracks in your pavement larger than 2 inches? Check out our post — When Crack Sealant Just Isn’t Enough
Let’s get started protecting your investment today.