How to Repair Alligator Cracking on an Asphalt Driveway

alligator cracking in asphaltAlligator cracking in asphalt is a common sign of major damage on driveways, roadways, and parking lots. When this type of damaged has occurred, asphalt crack repair is needed to restore the asphalt surface to its proper form.

Alligator Cracking/Fatigue Cracking in Pavement

Alligator cracking, which is also called fatigue cracking, refers to the types of asphalt cracks that resemble a reptile’s scales or a spider web. With alligator cracking, interconnected cracks form in a pattern of small geometric shapes. These types of cracks are particularly common on roads, but they can also appear on driveways, parking lots, and other asphalt surfaces that handle heavy traffic.

These types of cracks represent one of the more serious problems that can occur with asphalt surfaces. When fatigue cracking is present, there can be extensive damage beneath the surface. Often, major repair and asphalt replacement is needed.

Signs of Pavement Fatigue

Alligator cracks usually signify that there’s something wrong beneath the surface of the asphalt. This is an issue that requires immediate attention. If you notice longitudinal and transverse crack formations on your pavement, you need to work quickly to repair them before they worsen over time. The longer you wait to repair alligator cracks in your asphalt, the more costly repairs will be in the future. Also, taking shortcuts in these repairs isn’t the answer because this will also end up costing you more later on.

Types of Fatigue Cracking

There are three main types of fatigue cracking, all with varying degrees of severity: high-severity fatigue cracking, moderate-severity fatigue cracking, and low-severity fatigue cracking.

High-Severity Fatigue Cracking

High-severity fatigue cracking is the worst of the three types of alligator cracking. It indicates that the asphalt wasn’t correctly applied and it’s gone a long time without proper maintenance. The cracks are so deep that large chunks of asphalt have separated from the whole. When the asphalt is in this much disrepair, it’s in your best interest as the property owner to fix it right away. Not only is this a safety hazard for motorists on your property, but pedestrians can also become severely injured from tripping over the cracks, which is a significant liability issue.

Moderate-Severity Fatigue Cracking

This is when the transverse or connecting lines begin to form. Adding insult to injury, the sub-grade asphalt becomes increasingly exposed with each passing day that repairs are neglected. As the cracks deepen and widen over time, more precipitation and debris make their way into the asphalt and further erode it from beneath the surface, which in turn, causes more cracks on the surface. In other words, alligator cracking causes more alligator cracking in your pavement. It’s a vicious cycle that will continue and render your pavement completely worthless in the end. The problem is heightened if your business is located in a high traffic area.

Low-Severity Fatigue Cracking

At this stage, the damage is still fresh and very easily fixable. The cracks are typically segregated to one part of the asphalt and they’re not deep enough to constitute water seepage and erosion. Most likely transverse cracking hasn’t formed yet and you still have time to salvage the damaged section of your asphalt before it gets any worse. Asphalt pavement fatigue cracking is a major sign that you need to have an expert contractor examine the condition of your pavement and possibly rip out parts of it to repair the inner layers.

Causes of Fatigue Cracking in Pavement

Fatigue cracking is typically the result of heavy traffic, a lack of needed repairs, or poor construction of the asphalt surface.

Every asphalt surface can handle a certain amount of pressure. A strong foundation is critical to allowing the surface to bear pressure and traffic. When an asphalt surface is placed under too much pressure, from either heavy traffic or repeated use, then fatigue cracking can set in.

Once alligator cracking in pavement has occurred, water can seep into the pavement, degrading the foundation and ground beneath. This, in turn, causes more alligator cracking, which then allows even more water to seep into the pavement. This vicious cycle can lead to quick and extensive deterioration of asphalt surfaces.

Side Effects of Ignoring Alligator Cracking

Unfortunately, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; it’ll just make the situation much worse. You’re responsible for maintaining your property and guaranteeing the safety of everyone who uses it on a regular basis. If you don’t make the necessary repairs to your asphalt, you’re doing a huge disservice to your business, your employees, and your customers. Also, don’t forget that first impressions are very important. A cracked, jagged, and hazardous parking lot isn’t just unsightly—if someone injures themselves because of your negligence, it’s also grounds for a lawsuit.

Ways to Repair Alligator Cracking

There are some asphalt driveway crack repair solutions for when fatigue cracking sets in. However, since fatigue cracking is a form of major damage, property owners are more limited in the steps they can take.

Repair the Subgrade

When alligator cracking is present it means that the foundation of the asphalt is not able to withstand the pressure or traffic that is being applied to it. The only way to fully correct the problem is to repair the subgrade, strengthening the foundation. Repairing only the asphalt surface will not work, as the problem stems from the asphalt’s base.

Crack Filling and Sealing

Crack filling and sealing can be used as a temporary solution to prevent water from seeping into the asphalt and degrading the ground beneath. Sealing does nothing to rectify the problem, but it simply helps prevent the damage from getting worse. Crack filling and sealing can be a helpful solution until more serious repairs can be performed.

As the leading pavement maintenance contractor in the GTA, Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. specializes in catch basin repairs, rebuilding, and repaving. We offer an industry-leading seven-year structural warranty. Contact us today for more information on how we can perform alligator cracking repairs for your driveway or parking lot.