Alligator Cracks
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Dealing with Alligator Cracks in Asphalt

Have you ever noticed small, meandering cracks in an asphalt surface? Those are called “alligator cracks,” which is actually fatigue cracking. This type of asphalt damage is common as the surface begins to break down over time. While it may be common, that’s no reason to ignore it. In fact, alligator cracks are a serious problem. If you don’t address it right away, it can result in the entire surface deteriorating.

Alligator cracks are caused by damage in the underlying layers of the asphalt surface. It’s especially common when the pavement is stressed due to the heavy weight of vehicles. When that happens, the structure of the asphalt begins to break down, and alligator cracks form. Sometimes fatigue cracks are due to an improperly prepared sub-base underneath the asphalt surface. Alligator cracks can also be caused by cold weather and the freeze-thaw cycle. Whatever the reason, if you notice cracks in your asphalt surface, you should contact a professional paving contractor right away. A paving contractor can assess the damage and recommend the best way to repair the asphalt. You should also keep heavy traffic away from the damaged area of the pavement until it’s repaired.

If the cracks are severe, a paving professional may have to dig underneath the surface to determine the source of the problem. Once you know what has caused the cracks to begin with, your contractor will discuss how to resolve the issue in the best way possible – one that repairs the damage and fits into your budget. Depending on the severity of the cracking, your paving contractor might apply seal coating as a way to fill in the cracks and keep the damage from spreading. But seal coating may only be a temporary fix to the problem.

If the sub-base of the pavement has been compromised, it might require removing the damaged portions of the surface and replacing it with a new sub-base and fresh asphalt. In extreme circumstances – those that involve severe cracking and a badly damaged sub-base – it may be necessary to replace the asphalt surface altogether. Although this is a major expense, it’s a very worthwhile investment. A new asphalt surface that is properly installed should last 20 years or longer.

If you see alligator cracks in your asphalt surface, contact your paving contractor right away. As is always the case with damaged pavement, the longer you wait, the worse the situation will become. So the sooner you call a contractor, the more money you could save in the long run.