What Is Asphalt Fatigue Cracking?

What Is Asphalt Fatigue Cracking?, asphalt paving texasFatigue cracking, also known as crocodile cracking or alligator cracking, appears as a network of interconnected cells that are reminiscent of the scales on a reptile’s back. Once asphalt pavement begins to develop fatigue cracks, the damage can expand rapidly and endanger the health of large sections of the pavement in a relatively short time. Fatigue cracking is almost always a sign that the pavement and its supporting foundation are unable to bear the weight of traffic. However, it is necessary to determine the reason that the support is inadequate.

What Is Asphalt Fatigue Cracking? – Overloading of Pavement

Asphalt pavement is engineered to support a certain volume of vehicles as well as vehicles within certain weight ranges. The calculations for the thickness of the foundation and the depth of the asphalt are based on the loads that the pavement is expected to bear. For example, the driveway of a suburban home is not expected to bear the same loads as a busy interstate highway. Similarly, residential streets are not typically engineered to support the type of loads found on major arteries within the same city. If the pavement is subjected to heavier loads than it was engineered to support, fatigue cracking can occur. Fatigue cracking is often found in parking lots that were meant to support passenger vehicles after heavily loaded trucks are allowed frequent access to the area. These cracking patterns can also develop on side streets when traffic is forced to detour through a residential neighborhood while a major artery is under repair.

Foundation Erosion

One of the most common culprits leading to fatigue cracking is an eroded foundation, and the most common cause of foundation erosion is water penetration. Water penetration can occur if cracks and potholes are not repaired promptly; breaks in the surface of the pavement allow water to trickle down to the foundation and destabilize it. However, improper drainage can also lead to water penetration. Clogged drains can force water to back up under the surrounding pavement, or runoff from the neighboring terrain could find its way beneath the pavement’s edges.

Installation Errors

Occasionally, fatigue cracking is the result of an installation error. The underlying soil must be evaluated for stability, and if it is unsuitable, it may need to be amended. The soil as well as the foundation materials must be properly compacted to provide the pavement with strong, stable support. The asphalt layers must be of the correct depth and number, and each layer must be compacted properly before the next layer is applied.

Dealing with Fatigue Cracking

Once fatigue cracking appears, it will usually require more than patching or crack filling to remedy the problem. In most cases, the foundation will need to be repaired, and this requires removing the damaged pavement to gain access to the substrate material. The typical method is to saw out the damaged pavement, repair the foundation and install new asphalt pavement. However, it is sometimes possible to make a temporary repair that will delay the expansion of the alligator cracking for a short time. Although this may buy you a couple of months, keep in mind that every vehicle that drives over the repaired area is only making the damage worse.

Your best course of action is to ask an experienced, reputable contractor to inspect the damage. Alpha Paving Industries is an asphalt company in Austin, Texas and we have the expertise that you need. We are a full-service pavement company with impeccable references. Our services include asphalt repairs, asphalt paving, asphalt sealing, parking lot striping, street maintenance, road construction and asphalt overlays. We also install and repair concrete, and we install speed bumps, car stops and parking lot signs. Our clients include municipalities and counties, shopping malls, airports, apartment complexes, hotels, schools, hospitals, office complexes, restaurants, retailers and HOAs. We deliver quality work at competitive prices to customers throughout Central Texas. For a free quote, call (512) 677-9001 or use the online form to send us your information.


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