Asphalt Pavement Cracks and Gaps

"Can they be repaired?"


Obviously, all pavement cracks can be repaired. The best process for the repair depends on the crack, or pattern of cracks, and the number of cracks relative to the area with good pavement. All residential and commercial pavement should be inspected annually for open cracks and gaps between the pavement and any other bordering hard surface, such as roads, buildings, concrete walkways/pads, curbs, storm drains, manhole covers, etc. Repairing pavement cracks, as they appear, is the best maintenance that can be done to any asphalt pavement driveway or parking lot.

A pavement crack or group of cracks is a sign of the pavement base material failing or becoming wet and freezing, which can be caused by a number of things. Usually, it is caused by a drainage issue, a pavement seam failing, or the pavement is simply aging. An open crack will only add more water to the problem, which will lead to more cracks and water entering into the situation. If cracks are neglected, it will lead to a premature failure of the all the base material and the pavement the base is supposed to support. The result will be the need to do a much more expensive, total dig out and replacement of the base material and pavement.

For single to a few open cracks in a general area, the most effective and cost efficient method is "hot crack filling" and also called "hot tar filling". It is actually the same material that goes into the pavement when it is made at an asphalt plant. It is solid when at normal environmental temperatures, but turns into a liquid when heated to the proper temperature of almost 400 degrees F. This process requires a kettle designed for this purpose and an experienced person to properly heat and apply the material. The heated liquid asphalt should flow into the crack to full depth and be filled to the pavement surface. An anti tracking material should then be applied to the filler to reduce the sticking and tracking of the filler from people walking on it or vehicles driving on it. This is recommended, because the material can become sticky on hot days, especially when it is exposed to the sun.

There are cold filler products available, but they do not seem to work nearly as well as hot filler. This makes sense when considering how asphalt is produced. The producers of asphalt certainly wouldn’t spend all that money heating the asphalt if there was an effective cold material to take its place. The biggest problem with a cold filler product is that once it is in a crack it is impossible to replace it with a hot filler product. So, once this is done, the owner is "stuck" with it.

When there is a pattern of cracks close together a different approach is recommended. If the pattern is similar to a spider web or alligator skin, then a more extensive repair is recommended, again only if it is in a small area in comparison to the total area of pavement. This is a definite sign of a base failure, which can be caused by a poor installation, poor drainage, buried material decomposing, underground erosion, etc. The best approach to this issue is to cut the perimeter of the area with a power pavement saw, remove the pavement and any defective base material. Then replace and compact the base material along with the hot asphalt. This should be followed by hot crack filling the seam of the new pavement to the old. If the issue which caused the problem can be economically addressed, it should be done at this time. Sometimes, it is better to wait until a total pavement and base replacement is needed.

If the pattern is of a few cracks running parallel to each other and appears to be related to a pavement seam opening up, the sooner this is fixed the better. If it is let go, then the pavement base will become compromised and a more expensive repair will be needed. If this issue has been caught in time, usually just the top layer of asphalt needs to be replaced in this cracked area. This can be done with either a milling machine, which grinds off the pavement, or the saw cut method, followed by hot crack filling the seam of the new asphalt to the old.

All of these repairs are recommended, if done in time. If the pavement has many cracks and the majority of the area is not good pavement then it is near or at the end of its useful life. At this point, a full replacement is usually recommended.


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SMITH'S 783SEAL
Paving & Seal Coating

776 D Watervliet Shaker Rd.
Latham NY 12110
518-783-SEAL(7325)

Smith's 783Seal serves the entire New York Capital District and surrounding areas which include Albany, Altamont , Ballston spa, Ballston Lake, Berne, Bethlehem, Coeymans, Cohoes, Colonie, Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Green island, Guilderland, Knox, Latham, Menands, Malta, Niskayuna , New scotland, Ravena, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Scotia, Schenectady, Voorheesville, Watervliet, Waterford, Westerlo and more. We provide sealcoating, and paving services for residential driveways and commerical parking lots.

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