An important and vital step in your asphalt maintenance program.
Cracks allow water to get into the pavement, which causes your asphalt to deteriorate at an accelerated pace here in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. If the water reaches the sub-base, it will weaken your pavement structure and cause alligatoring and potholes - which are more costly to repair.
Crack sealing prevents water from getting into the pavement, to prevent or delay pothole formation, and should be done at least once a year.
New cracks that have formed or old cracks that have reopened, between ¼” and 1” wide, should be filled or sealed with crackfill as soon as possible.
Over time, your asphalt parking lot, driveway, or other surface will begin to crack. That is an inevitability. Around 3-5 years after paving, your asphalt will begin to show cracks. How you handle these initial cracks will help determine the lifespan of your asphalt. With proper maintenance and timely repairs, asphalt has an average lifespan of 15 years. However, if you ignore these early cracks, your asphalt could fail much earlier.
Cracks, no matter what size, allow water to penetrate the asphalt surface, softening the stone base and leading to further damage, including: alligator cracking/spider webbing, pot holes, and premature failure. Cracks are especially problematic this time of year in our Minnesota climate. The freeze-thaw effect, which is exactly what it sounds like, can speed up asphalt degradation.
Bituminous pavement is design to be flexible to accommodate the freeze/thaw cycles that we experience in Minnesota. On average in the Twin Cities we experience about 60 freeze cycles in a given year. Subsequent cracking will occur in relatively new pavement and continue throughout its life. Sealing cracks helps prevent moisture from penetrating through the asphalt into the base material where it causes further damage to you drive or parking lot.
Hot Pour Crack Fill
Cracks allow water to run down under the pavement. With this constant flow of water that aggregates under the asphalt surface are eroded away. This results potholes and other cracks because the top asphalt is no longer properly supported and it cracks when vehicles roll over.
Crack sealing seals cracks preventing water getting into the pavement. Applied at the right time crack sealing will prevent or delay pothole formation.
Cracks cause damage to your driveway, parking lots, and roads because they allow water to seep into the pavement. In Minnesota the water freezes and eventually expands the width and depth of the cracks. As water penetrates the surface, the sub base begins to erode, and the pavement eventually takes on the appearance of the skin of an alligator's back. This "alligator cracking" causes depressions and potholes.
Once this occurs to an area of pavement, simple filling will not fix the problem, since the sub base is compromised. Rip out and replacement of the area is the only solution.
One crack leads to the formation of many; therefore, applying hot rubber fill when cracks are first noticed is the key to maintaining your surface before costly repairs are necessary.
Asphalt pavement cracks are open doorways for water to seep and cause deeper structural damage. Cracks permit the asphalt base to be saturated and thereby cause more cracks through the expansion and contraction experienced in winter months. Also problematic is that cracks allow the base to be washed away, thus causing the surface to be unsupported – this leads to even larger problems, for instance pot holes. Needless to say, cracks that are filled with hot crack fill close the ”doors” and lessen this entire process of pavement failure.
As neglected asphalt continues to weaken, water and weather damage reduce the life of your asphalt by as much as 50% in just five years.
The freeze and thaw cycles in the Minneapolis / Twin Cities metro area also accelerate the size of cracks. Filling cracks in a timely manner extends the life of your asphalt and saves you money. Cracks that are ignored eventually turn into sunken, broken (alligatored) areas or worse (pot holes). Once this type of destruction is evident the cost of repair goes up substantially.
We highly recommend filling all cracks 1/4" or wider.