What are the Causes of Pavement Distress?

Potholes are a sign of pavement distress.

What is distress in pavement?

Distress in pavement describes a wealth of problems in pavement from cracks to potholes and rutting. In other words,pavement distress consists of any sort of damage or failure that undermines the integrity of pavement, and keeps it from functioning properly. In general, two types of distress exist: environmental distress and structural distress.

Agents causing environmental pavement distress include exposure to direct sunlight, water, weathering and aging. Structural stressors include overloading, wet sub-grade or substandard design.

What are the general causes of pavement failure?

When you see cracks, potholes, depressions or ruts in asphalt, these are signs of distress and failure in your pavement. Here are just a few main causes of pavement failure.

Causes of pavement failure include:

  • Water: Water causes the paving material to deteriorate over time.
  • Stress from heavy vehicles: Traffic from vehicles too heavy for the pavement will eventually wear down the pavement.
  • Temperature fluctuations: As seasons and temperatures change, the pavement expands and contracts with the heat and cold.
  • Sun exposure: The sun not only causes pavement to fade, it dries it up and causes the material to deteriorate.

What causes cracks in pavement?

Pavement distress has numerous causes that create everything from cracks to bleeding. Cracks are among the most common problems seen in pavement. Cracks can be caused by any number of things from age to water eroding the paving material to the sun’s heat drying and deteriorating it. Additionally soil erosion, drought or long periods of heavy rain can cause the ground under the pavement to shift and crack. Cracks caused by ground movement are hard to prevent. Tree roots can also push up into pavement and crack it.

Moreover, heavy vehicles traveling on asphalt pavement not designed to support the extra weight can create cracks over time. Vehicles or other heavy objects like pallets left on the pavement for extended periods can cause the pavement to crack.

When you have cracks in your pavement, hot rubber is one of the most effective ways to seal the cracks. If you have cracks in your pavement inAustin, TX, ATX Asphalt Paving is the team to call for reliable hot rubber crack repair. Get help from us today by calling 512-646-6069.

What are active cracks?

An active crack is a type of crack found in concrete pavement. As opposed to dormant cracks, active cracks constantly change either their length, width or depth. Either kind of crack can allow water to intrude under the concrete, washout the base and cause the concrete to sink.

If you are concerned about water quality, even water that gets under your sidewalk, you may want to consider water filtration services.

How to avoid cracks in concrete pavement

Cracks in concrete pavement can be avoided as the concrete is mixed and poured. As it’s placed, a good way to avoid cracks is to make sure no extra water is added to the mix. When there is excess water in the mix, the water evaporates which will lead the concrete shrinking more.

Additionally, when preparing the sub-grade, make sure it is smooth and uniform, free of frost and has good drainage. Otherwise, if the sub-grade is poorly prepared, the concrete can settle and crack.

Properly curing the concrete is also important to keep it from cracking. When you cure concrete, you are preventing the concrete from losing moisture too quickly. Rapid moisture loss causes the concrete to shrink and crack.

In areas where concrete is likely to crack, contraction joints can be added. These strips of plastic or hardboard can be placed to prevent random cracking.

Types of cracks in concrete pavement

Some of the most common types of cracks you see in concrete include:

  • Plastic shrinkage: When it’s in its plastic state, before it’s hardened, water evaporates and causes the concrete to shrink. This shrinkage can result in cracks.
  • Expansion: When concrete heats up, it expands and pushes against whatever gets in its way, whether walls or other concrete slabs. If the object in the way isn’t flexible and doesn’t give way, cracking can occur.
  • Heaving: Cracking can be caused by the ground shifting underneath due to expansion and contraction from freezing and thawing. Similarly, tree roots can push up concrete and crack it.
  • Settling: If a void or hole opens below the concrete, the concrete can settle and crack.
  • Overloading: Excessive weight on the concrete can cause it to crack.
  • Premature drying: When moisture dries rapidly from concrete, it can create cracks.
Grass in pavement cracks can be an annoyance.

Grass in pavement cracks

Grass and weeds growing up through pavement cracks is a common annoyance and there are several possible solutions to getting rid of grass and weeds. Some natural ways to kill the grass or weeks include pouring boiling water on them until they stop growing and pouring a mixture of kitchen vinegar and salt over the weeds. Horticulture vinegar, which can be ordered online, will also do the trick. Other effective ways to get rid of grasses and weeds include torching them with a propane torch or sealing the crack.

Warping cracks in rigid pavement

Warping cracks are caused when concrete slabs expand in hot weather and poorly designed joints aren’t flexible enough to hold up to the stress of the expansion. When longitudinal and transverse joints are properly reinforced, warping cracks will usually be avoided.

Filling cracks in pavement

Filling a crack in the pavement is different from sealing it. When you fill a crack, you use an asphalt emulsion and place it non-working cracks such as alligator cracks, reducing the water infiltration and reinforcing adjacent pavement. Sealing a crack uses hot sealant to prevent water from intruding into cracks larger than 0.1 inches.

Call for service today

If you need cracks in your pavement filled or sealed in Austin, TX , contact the experts at ATX Asphalt Paving. Call 512-646-6069 for service.