Despite its durability making it the most popular paving material in Canada, asphalt pavement isn’t indestructible. If you’ve owned an asphalt pavement for some time, you’ve likely noticed a couple of cracks here and there. As minor as these cracks may seem, asphalt cracks aren’t something that should be taken lightly.
Asphalt pavement cracking can indicate anything from minor surface damage to deep structural damage. While it’s generally recommended to repair asphalt cracks as soon as they begin to form, knowing what causes asphalt pavement cracking is a vital part of preventing costly repairs. To help you identify what’s causing your asphalt pavement to crack, we’ve put together a list of five common causes of asphalt pavement cracking.
Drastic Weather Changes
Drastic weather changes are something we Canadians are all too familiar with. The rapid expansion and contraction of the asphalt due to sudden temperature changes can lead to small cracks developing over time. Any water that gets into these cracks will expand as it freezes, thus widening the cracks even more. For this reason, asphalt is particularly vulnerable to cracking during the transitional period between winter and spring, where temperatures tend to fluctuate widely from one day to the next.
Exposure to Sunlight
Over time, constant exposure to sunlight dries out the asphalt and makes it stiff and brittle. Once it’s reached that point, it is fairly easy to avoid by regularly seal-coating your asphalt pavement. Not only does seal-coating restore a “like new” appearance at minimal cost, it also minimizes the risk of asphalt cracks due to sun exposure.
There are few things worse than standing water for asphalt pavements. Since asphalt is naturally porous, standing water will eventually seep through the surface of your pavement, slowly but surely making its way down through the various layers. Over time, any water that seeps through the surface of the asphalt will gradually erode the layers beneath it. This, in turn, affects the structural integrity of the pavement and eventually causes the cracks to form where the supporting layers have weakened. Add to that more water seeping into, freezing, and thawing in the asphalt cracks, and you’re looking at substantial structural damage.
Lack of Maintenance
Asphalt pavement cracking can also be caused by improper or a lack of maintenance. For the most part, asphalt maintenance involves keeping your asphalt clean and free of debris, clearing snow during the winter, and repairing any minor damages as they occur. As insignificant as it may seem, proper asphalt maintenance greatly reduces the chances of minor asphalt cracks developing into larger ones and is vital to maximizing the lifespan of your surface.
Last but not least, perhaps the leading cause of asphalt pavement cracking is poor installation. Despite what you may think, there’s a huge difference between a high-quality installation carried out by a professional asphalt paving contractor and a rushed job done by a discount contractor with improper tools. While it may look good in the beginning, a poor installation can lead to asphalt cracks in as little as a few uses.
Serving the local community for over two decades, Holloway Paving is Calgary’s most trusted paving company. If you’re in the Calgary area and noticed your asphalt pavement cracking, let us know. Reach out to us today for a free quote on any of our asphalt installation, repair, or maintenance services.