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Asphalt Repair Alert: Common Causes Of Pavement Failure

Key Takeaways:

  • Asphalt accounted for 93% of new pavement across the US in 2020, with around 87 million tons recycled.
  • Poor asphalt mixing & installation practices result in pavement failure.
  • Common asphalt failures usually stem from human design errors, weather & water intrusion.
  • Asphalt maintenance & remediation form a significant part of a business’s curb appeal.
  • Proactive asphalt maintenance plans save businesses a lot of repair expenses each year.

Asphalt has been the preferred paving material across the US since 1915, with an estimated 99% recycling rate and a guaranteed 100% efficacy rate in recycled asphalt pavement in Texas. That statistic alone says a lot about how effective this paving material has become throughout the years. As of 2020, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, around 87 million metric tons of asphalt have been reclaimed to create endless stretches of highways, driveways, to shingles on our roofs. Impressive.

But where there is much talk of reclaimed asphalt & recycling, there is the oft-mentioned issue of pavement failure that plagues the highways, parking lots & driveways across the country.

That is what Action Construction Asphalt & Concrete, a reliable asphalt repair company based in San Antonio, has on the agenda today!

What Happens When An Asphalt Pavement Fails?

There are a few telltale signs of asphalt pavement failure with huge ramifications. The first and most common is surface cracking, which can be caused by various things ranging from vehicular activity to extreme weather conditions. If left unrepaired, these cracks will continue to grow and spread, eventually leading to potholes, sinkholes, and complete failure.

It seems like we rushed through that, but damage to asphalt pavement is instant if specific variables are detrimental to the curing of the paving material.

In a nutshell, you, as the facility manager, have to bear the costs of extensive pavement, driveway & parking lot repair.

Types & Causes of Pavement Failure

So, now that we know that San Antonio is experiencing quite a lot of rain, you, as a homeowner, a municipal administrator, or even a parking lot manager, can expect the following kinds of asphalt failures to show up once the wet spell passes over.

1. Potholes

Undoubtedly, the most feared & typical of all pavement damages. They occur when water seeps into pavement cracks and goes through the freeze-thaw cycle a few times, with each cycle deteriorating the surrounding binder & aggregate in the pavement layers. A minuscule crack can become a gaping crater in a couple of weeks. That is not only unsightly but damaging to vehicle undercarriage and an ADA lawsuit in the making.

2. Block Cracks

While not a purely asphalt pavement issue, asphalt failure occurs when roads with a concrete slab base are paved with asphalt aggregate. The fault arises from poor concrete jointing, resulting in stresses in the rigid pavement that manifest as block cracks through the asphalt above. Of course, that opens up the pavement to further water intrusion damage and hefty repair costs along the length of the highway or lot.

3. Edge Cracks

As residents of September-bound, rainy San Antonio, you are bound to have edge cracking along pavement lacking proper drainage design. The damage is exacerbated by heavy rainfall and poor edge support. That is why pavement grading, edge blocks, swales, drains, & curbs are such an integral part of professional pavement design.

Without the drainage, the edges of the asphalt break away like crumbling cookies and expose a fresh layer of asphalt to bear the ongoing edging process.

4. Depressions

You may have noticed we mentioned sinkholes above – one was found along the Old Pearsall Road in May of this year – depressions in the pavement are somewhat a precursor to that. We also mentioned that soil compression is central to a sturdy paving base, so when unstable soil has not been sufficiently compacted or stabilized before installing pavement, the loose pockets of sand & grit under the asphalt can cause a rift. Combine that with water intrusion, and the soil begins to settle, taking the road on a literal bumpy ride.

5. Raveling

A most notorious example of pavement failure is when stone chips fly off the asphalt like a dirt & gravel road when you drive over it. That is why seal coating – coal, bitumen, acrylic, slurry, or emulsion – is essential. A seal coat is a surface protectant against the rain assaulting your driveway as you read this. It acts as a seal-tight layer, keeping the asphalt underneath dry & intact.

The Importance of Good Asphalt Paving Practices

It is widely understood throughout the asphalt paving & general contracting community that asphalt requires a balance of temperature, humidity, aggregate, binders & compaction to be rendered effective. Suppose any of these variables are not factored according to the pavement’s load bearing, or there is a fault in the asphalt design mix. In that case, that will make the finished pavement vulnerable to environmental elements.

Then there is also the needed knowledge of what kind of asphalt you can use in which regions. For all the local businesses in San Antonio, a perfect blacktop would mean constant protection from the rain plaguing the area this time of the year. A typical solution is a seal coat or the occasional HMA patch after the wet season has run its course.

Asphalt Pavement Protection & Remediation

In short, it’s the rainy season, so surface protection measures are impractical because asphalt surfaces need some degree of texturing & cleaning to allow for seal coat adhesion. And we also need sun – lots of it!

As a business owner & facility lot manager, one understands the need for an appealing blacktop, happy customers, and profits. That could be undermined if you don’t have a fall maintenance plan.

At least the following should be on your pavement maintenance agenda:

  • Seal coating for minor cracks & raveling.
  • Crack fillers & sealing for more significant gaps.
  • Drainage installation or cleaning for preexisting drains.
  • Sidewalk & curb repairs.
  • Pavement curbing & support edging.
  • Asphalt patching (with recycled or reclaimed asphalt)

Once the weather stabilizes, the most appropriate action would be to scout the property for damages & then allocate a fall maintenance budget for much-needed repairs. Meanwhile, you can schedule a thorough inspection of your property in advance and seek quotes from a reliable asphalt repair company in San Antonio, TX.

Action Construction Asphalt & Concrete is a highly reputable asphalt paving & repair company that has been servicing the city of San Antonio and its surrounding areas for over 20 years. We specialize in all forms of asphalt repair, from small cracks to complete pavement removal & installation. We can also add a basic edge drainage design with new pavement installation.

If you’re concerned about the condition of your asphalt pavement, don’t hesitate to call us in this weather to whip up a robust repair plan. We’ll come out and assess the damage and provide you with a quote for the repairs.

Stay dry till we get there, San Antonio!