Even though asphalt is one of the most durable, versatile, and reliable paving materials on the planet, it’s not completely unsusceptible to certain types of damages that occur over long periods of time.
If you own a fairly busy commercial or industrial property that gets a lot of vehicular and foot traffic, you may notice your asphalt pavement cracking or failing in some spots. Before you jump ahead to fix the damages, it’s important to figure out what’s causing them in the first place and what your can do to prevent future damages. Otherwise, you’re just throwing valuable money, time, and resources onto a recurring issue without finding a long-lasting palpable solution. This method will end up costing you a lot more wasted time and money in the long run.
On the flip side, it’s also imperative to act as quickly as possible when you start noticing cracked asphalt pavement throughout your property. To help you remedy the situation quickly and efficiently, we’ve compiled a list of the top reasons why asphalt pavement cracks over time and how you can effectively correct the damages before they get too far beyond repair.
1. Inadequate or Low-Quality Drainage System
Do you notice water backlog, backflow, or pooling throughout your property? These are all telltale signs that there may be something wrong with the water drainage system on your property. Standing or pooling water is your asphalt pavement’s worst nemesis.
Asphalt is naturally porous which means it’s not entirely impervious to the damages caused by large amounts of standing water. Over long periods of time, water will eventually permeate the surface layers of your asphalt pavement, slowly eroding like earthworms creating tunnels in soil. When this happens, the structural integrity and durability of your asphalt pavement can become completely compromised and dips, depressions, and breaks will appear throughout. As water continues to erode your asphalt pavement, more water will get in along with debris and dirt.
Furthermore, as water continues to fill the increasing cracks in the asphalt pavement, the freeze-thaw cycles of different seasons will invariably cause it to expand and contract, leading to even more cracking.
Not only is this type of damage extremely dangerous, it’s also a huge liability issue as it can lead to potentially serious accidents or injuries to anyone who uses your parking lot including your employees and customers.
To avoid these unnecessary headaches and expenses, make sure to carefully monitor the performance of your water drainage system. If it’s failing to fully drain runoff rainwater, then it may be clogged, in need of cleaning, or it may be time to replace it entirely.
2. Drastic Seasonal Temperature Changes
Canadian property owners are all too familiar with the many drastic temperature changes that can happen throughout the year. Sometimes, it even feels like we’re getting all four seasons in a single day!
Drastic seasonal temperature changes and the freeze-thaw cycles that come with them can do some serious damage to your asphalt pavement over time if it’s not properly maintained or protected—especially if you’re already experiencing water penetration issues.
The frigid cold temperatures in the winter cause the asphalt to contract, which leads to cracking. However, if water has already penetrated the asphalt prior to the freeze cycle, that water will eventually freeze, causing the asphalt to widen and crack even more.
Asphalt expands during the summer months when the climate is warmer. Seasonal transitional periods like between winter and spring are particularly precarious times of year for asphalt. Snow tends to melt rapidly as the temperatures warm up, but there are also sudden temperature fluctuations from one day to the next that can cause rapid expansion and contraction.
If your property is flat or you don’t have a proper drainage system, there isn’t anywhere for the melted snow to go. The excess water needs to be manually removed before it pools and wreaks havoc on your asphalt pavement. Make sure to repair or replace your drainage system if it’s not working properly.
3. Weak Edging
Your asphalt pavement is only as strong as its edging. If the edging wasn’t installed properly during the construction phase or it hasn’t been adequately maintained since then, it will eventually begin to crack and crumble due to wear and tear.
When the edging starts to crack, water and debris will eventually start to seep into these channels and erode your asphalt pavement from the inside out, causing even more internal and external damage. The longer you neglect to correct these issues, the worse and more expensive the cost of repair will be. Extensive damages may even be beyond the point of repair and parts of your asphalt may need to be completely replaced.
Minor cracks around the edge of your asphalt can quickly widen and spread if they’re not dealt with quickly. Luckily, all you need is a little sealant and some elbow grease to repair small cracks. Larger surface cracks, however, may require the expertise of a professional asphalt contractor because it’s hard to tell how deep they go.
4. Heavy Vehicular Traffic
Industrial and commercial parking lots sometimes get a lot of traffic from large vehicles like pickup trucks, SUVs, vans, large dump trucks, tank trucks, tractor units, concrete transport trucks, garbage trucks, delivery vehicles, etc. The weight of these heavy-duty vehicles constantly moving around and parking on your property can cause a lot of asphalt pavement wear and tear over time.
It’s important to maintain your asphalt and make necessary repairs as soon as you notice signs of damage to keep your pavement in tiptop condition.
5. The Impact of Stripping and Ravelling
Stripping and ravelling are usually a result of poor or improper asphalt installation. Stripping is when the top layer of the asphalt begins to crumble or come apart. Ravelling is when the stripping of the asphalt extends to the internal layers of the pavement. Stripping and ravelling are caused by aggregate separation over time, which suggests that the original asphalt aggregate wasn’t properly mixed before it was laid down.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy do-it-yourself fix for this problem. You’re going to have to call an expert asphalt contractor in your area to remove the ravelled pavement and patch up the affected area using heavy-duty equipment.
6. Neglecting to Maintain Your Asphalt
Asphalt is an extremely resilient and versatile paving material, but like anything else, it still needs proper care and maintenance in order to extend its lifespan and uphold the curb appeal of your property.
Asphalt maintenance can vary depending on the season. For the most part, though, it basically just means keeping your asphalt clean, removing all dirt and debris regularly, implementing snow removal services in the winter, repairing minor damages as they come up, repainting faded lines, etc. Naturally, some damages are far more extensive than others and these may require the expertise of a professional contractor.
Generally speaking, however, as long as you work to keep your asphalt pavement clean and apply a fresh layer of sealcoating once every two to three years, you can extend its lifespan to about 20-30 years or longer. Neglecting to maintain your asphalt, on the other hand, will inevitably result in costly repairs and greater liability risks down the line.
7. Excessive Sun Exposure
Just like you put sunscreen on your skin to protect it from harmful UV rays, your asphalt pavement also needs sun protection. Excessive sun exposure over long periods of time can cause the asphalt blacktop to fade, which ruins its aesthetic appeal.
Moreover, overexposure to the sun also removes the moisture from your asphalt pavement, causing it to become dry and brittle. This leads to cracking, especially under the pressure of vehicles.
Sealcoating your asphalt parking lot once every two to three years can help protect it from the harmful rays of the sun while also restoring its appearance and structural integrity.
8. Poor Quality Installation from the Get-Go
Poor quality installation is one of the most common reasons for early asphalt pavement failure. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, so be weary of asphalt contractors who claim to install your pavement for you in a short period of time. There’s a difference between completing good quality work efficiently and rushing a job to meet a tight deadline.
You’ll know within the first 18 to 24 months if your asphalt pavement was professionally installed. If it wasn’t, you’ll most likely start noticing minor cracks throughout the pavement that normally wouldn’t start appearing until a few years later.
If the foundation of the aggregate isn’t properly compacted from the beginning, then that sets the tone for the remainder of the installation process. A weak foundation can’t support multiple layers of asphalt aggregate and cracking will commence after just a few uses.
Save yourself the stress of having to perform expensive asphalt repairs. Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. is a renowned asphalt pavement installation, repair, and maintenance company that serves Toronto and the GTA. For nearly 25 years, we’ve been providing high-quality asphalt services to our clients. We’re so confident in our work, that we also offer a comprehensive seven-year labour and material warranty. Contact us today to book a consultation.