Alligator Cracking & Severity


Alligator Cracking & Severity, austin asphalt paving

Asphalt pavement is an extremely popular choice for residential driveways, city streets, parking lots and busy highways. It is quick and economical to install and repair, provides excellent traction and can last for decades if properly maintained. However, virtually all asphalt pavements will develop cracks eventually. Most cracks are relatively minor and easily repaired. One particular cracking pattern, though, can be costly to repair and can threaten the integrity of the entire pavement: alligator cracking.

Alligator Cracking & Severity – What Is Alligator Cracking?

Alligator cracking often begins as hairline cracks that are parallel to each other. If ignored, transverse cracks will develop that connect the parallel cracks. The cracking pattern will begin to resemble the scales on the back of a crocodile or alligator.

Asphalt contractors classify the severity of alligator cracking into three levels.

• Low-level alligator cracking features parallel cracks with few or no transverse cracks.
• Medium-level alligator cracking displays multiple transverse cracks.
• High-level alligator cracking has a well-developed pattern, pieces that are broken at the edge and possibly missing chunks of pavement.

What Causes Alligator Cracking?

Alligator cracking has several potential causes. The original construction could have been improper, especially the installation of the pavement’s base. If poor construction is the cause, however, the damage will normally appear within the first two years of the pavement’s life. Allowing vehicles with weights that exceed the tolerances for which the pavement was engineered can sometimes result in alligator cracking. Occasionally, tree roots, soil erosion, ground movement and soil with a high content of clay can lead to alligator cracking.

However, the most common cause of alligator cracking is water penetration resulting from the failure to make timely repairs. Potholes and cracks allow water to penetrate beneath the pavement and reach the base that gives the pavement the support and resiliency it needs. The water erodes the base, allowing areas of the pavement to sag or subside. These unsupported areas can be easily damaged by normal traffic, and alligator cracking can occur in a relatively short time.

Repairing Alligator Cracks

Once asphalt pavement has developed alligator cracks, the damage will typically continue to expand until the issue is remedied. Since the damage is usually caused by an eroded or improperly constructed base, the normal repair method is to remove the cracked pavement, rebuild the base and install new pavement.

Preventing Alligator Cracking

When it comes to alligator cracking, prevention is superior to remediation. Although there are certain situations in which the cracking could not be prevented, such situations are quite rare.

• To prevent alligator cracking from occurring on new pavement, always choose a reputable, experienced contractor for the installation.
• Do not allow overweight vehicles to access the pavement. For example, do not allow tractor-trailers access to a parking lot that was intended to support passenger vehicles.
• Conduct regular inspections of your pavement and have cracks or potholes repaired promptly.
• Maintain your sealcoating. Ask your contractor how often you should have fresh sealant applied to provide the best protection for your particular pavement.

Whether you need maintenance to help prevent alligator cracking or remediation for pavement that has already suffered severe damage, Alpha Paving can help. We are an Austin paving company that offering asphalt paving and overlays, crack repairs, sealcoating, parking lot striping, street maintenance, milling, concrete work, road construction and many other pavement-related services. We have an outstanding reputation for the quality of our work, our professionalism and our customer service. Our client base includes counties and municipalities, retailers, apartment complexes, churches, airports, hotels, office parks and schools. If you would like to receive a free quote, submit our online form or call (512) 677-9001.

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