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10 Common Asphalt Problems and How to Fix Them

Asphalt is the pavement material of choice for many residential and commercial parking lots. The material stands out for its aesthetic appeal and ease of installation. Asphalt is also relatively more durable than most pavement options.  

However, the longevity of asphalt pavements depends on several factors, such as workmanship quality and environmental conditions. Besides, even a parking lot installed with high-quality asphalt will develop problems in a long enough time frame.  

So, it’s imperative to understand the tell-tale signs that your asphalt pavement requires repair or overhaul. Fortunately for you, we’ve researched all the possible symptoms of underlying asphalt issues.  

Here are the top ten most common asphalt problems and how you can fix them.    

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  1. Block Cracking

Block cracking is arguably the most common asphalt problem. It presents as large, interconnected rectangular cracks on asphalt pavements.  

Block cracking is a temperature fluctuation problem. The cracks emerge when the asphalt binder shrinks due to alternating heating and cooling of the pavement.  

It’s important to notify your asphalt repair Tacoma technician when block cracks pop up on your parking lot. The professional will assess the damage and recommend the most appropriate remedy.  

Using a high-quality asphalt binder can significantly lower the risks of block cracking. If the cracks appear, a Tacoma asphalt professional will likely replace the damaged surface with a better-quality asphalt material.  

  1. Alligator Cracking

Alligator cracking occurs when ground heat causes asphalt pavement to expand rapidly, causing the parking lot to break apart. The cracks resemble an alligator’s skin, hence the moniker.  

Alligator cracks signify underlying structural issues, notably a weakened base. Therefore, they should be approached cautiously.  

The most effective solution to alligator asphalt cracking is completely replacing the damaged area.  

Timely intervention is paramount to nick the problem in the bud and prevent the cracks from spreading to adjacent sections. While the problem typically results from ground heat, it can quickly worsen during wet seasons as water seeps through the tiny cracks. 

  1. Transverse Cracking

Each asphalt pavement has an imaginary centerline. Any crack that develops perpendicular to the centerline constitutes a transverse crack.  

Transverse cracks occur when chilly conditions cause the asphalt pavement to shrink. They may also result from substandard construction materials and subterranean pressure that causes structural shifts, as is often with high-traffic parking lots.  

Transverse cracks usually follow the general direction in which the structure was initially laid. The easiest way to fix them is by sealing the crevices early enough. 

  1. Longitudinal Cracking

The primary difference between longitudinal and transverse cracks is their development relative to a pavement’s centerline.  

While transverse cracks emerge perpendicular to the centerline, longitudinal cracking occurs parallel to the line. However, both transverse and longitudinal asphalt cracking share similar causes.  

Longitudinal cracks tend to worsen over time. So, be sure to enlist professional help soon enough.  

Smaller longitudinal cracks (those measuring 0.5 inches or less) can quickly be sealed. For larger crevices, you may need to replace the entire damaged area.   

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  1. Joint Reflection Cracking

Temperature fluctuation appears to be a primary cause behind numerous asphalt problems, including joint reflection cracking.  

Besides temperature changes, asphalt surfaces may also develop joint reflection cracking due to excessive traffic and normal parking lot wear.  

The first step in repairing joint reflection cracking is to measure the size. You can patch smaller cracks with a high-quality asphalt sealer, while larger ones may require an overhaul of the affected patch. 

  1. Slippage Cracking

Signs of crescent-shaped marks on your asphalt pavement is proof of slippage cracking.  

This problem happens when the outer asphalt layer slips over the inner course beneath the ground. The actual slippage is usually due to substandard construction material or poor bonding due to contaminants in the asphalt mix.  

Total replacement of the cracked patches is the most reliable way to fix slippage cracking. 

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  1. Edge Cracking

This is one of the most commonly ignored problems in asphalt pavement. To many property owners, the issue doesn’t warrant prompt intervention as long as it’s restricted to the parking lot’s peripheries.  

However, edge cracks can prove as costly to repair as other asphalt problems if you do not act swiftly.  

Your best bet is to patch the damaged edge or install a new one before the problem gets out of hand.  

Weak foundations, structural shifts, and poor drainage are common causes of edge cracking. So, ensure the prescribed solution addresses the underlying trigger. 

  1. Poor Drainage

Poor drainage on your asphalt pavement doesn’t just indicate an underlying problem. It can exacerbate other issues as well.  

Shoddy workmanship is the primary reason water collects on your asphalt parking lot. That’s especially true if the problem happens a few weeks after doing a fresh pavement.  

Poor drainage can worsen asphalt cracking and compromise the pavement’s structural integrity over time.  

Potential solutions include proper surface sloping and fixing your property’s drainage systems.  

  1. Potholes

Potholes on asphalt pavement indicate long periods of neglect. That’s because the holes usually start small and expand considerably.  

Potholes can result from various factors, including ground expansion and shrinkage. Other environmental aspects, such as standing water, can cause the holes to expand into major depressions.  

Since most potholes are generally localized, they are easy to fix. You can repair the holes without dislodging significant patches from adjacent pavement sections.  

Infrared and spray patching are recommended for sealing standalone potholes. 

  1. Bird Baths

Bird baths generally resemble potholes, except they appear as dips and depressions.  

These problems result from weak spots on your asphalt pavement. They may also be due to structural issues, such as fragile foundations.  

Substandard workmanship, excessive load capacity, and natural wear are common triggers of bird baths.  

As with most asphalt problems, the best way to repair bird baths is to address the underlying cause. You can opt for a partial refill or a total overhaul, depending on the extent of the damage.  

Final Word 

Asphalt pavements require ongoing maintenance to enhance longevity. One way to properly maintain your asphalt parking lot or patio is to beware of signs that something is out of whack. Identifying problems early allows you to fix them before they escalate into costly repairs.  

As a parting shot, remember that asphalt repair is a job best left to professionals. So, after uncovering signs of damage, finding a reputable asphalt parking lot technician would be prudent. The contractor will visit your property and assess the extent of the damage. They’ll then issue you a quote depending on the scope of work involved.

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