The Basics of Asphalt Crack Filling

Prevent asphalt damage by crack filling

Sooner or later, the best asphalt pavement is going to develop a crack. Ground movement, the freeze/thaw cycle, oxidation, traffic and age can all lead to the appearance of cracks. It is imperative to have cracks in asphalt pavement filled as soon as possible. If cracks are not repaired, water can penetrate to the pavement’s foundation and destabilize it. This can lead to alligator cracking, potholes and premature failure of the pavement. Although the goal of crack filling is always to prevent additional damage caused by the expansion of the crack and/or water penetration, there are different types of cracks and different products that can be used.

Understanding the types of Asphalt Cracks

Cracks can be classified as active or inactive; some contractors use the terms working and non-working to identify the activity of cracks in asphalt pavement. Active or working cracks often seem to grow in length and width almost daily. Inactive or non-working cracks are typically small and shallow, and these cracks show little or no growth over time.

Asphalt contractors also classify cracks according to their cause as well as their position relative to the direction in which the asphalt was installed or the centerline of a street or highway.

  • Longitudinal cracks, which parallel the laydown direction or centerline, can be caused by temperature changes, pavement shrinkage, improper construction or asphalt that has hardened excessively.
  • Transverse cracks run perpendicular to the laydown direction or centerline. They are typically the first cracks to appear and are often caused by the freeze/thaw cycle.
  • Reflective cracks are caused by movement of the sub-base.
  • Edge cracks are those that develop between concrete curbs and the pavement’s edge.

The process of filling cracks in asphalt pavement

Asphalt companies can choose either hot-pour or cold-pour fillers. Hot-pour fillers are used most often, especially for active or large cracks. Cold-pour fillers are usually reserved for small or inactive cracks. However, there are many options available in both cold-pour and hot-pour fillers, and not every type of filler is ideal for every type of crack. Contractors carefully review the size and action of a crack before choosing the best filler.

Prior to applying the fill material, the contractor’s crew will clean the crack. Several methods can be used to ensure that dirt, vegetation, dust or loose gravel is removed from the crack. For example, a heat lance may be used to deliver a blast of hot compressed air. A motorized wire brush may be used, or the contractor may prefer to use a router to prepare cracks for filling. Regardless of method, the goal is to ensure that the void is clean, dry and sufficiently prepared so that the filler will bond to the pavement.

The filler is normally applied using one of three basic techniques. The material may be applied so that it is even with the surrounding pavement, slightly above the surrounding pavement or slightly below the surrounding pavement. The asphalt contractor will decide which method should be used for each specific crack, so it is possible that different fill patterns could be used on the same pavement if there are multiple types of cracks.

We are here to help. Call Us today

APM is an asphalt company and has been helping customers in Lexington, Louisville, and Central Kentucky. Our services include asphalt crack repair, asphalt paving, sealcoating, parking lot striping, milling, parking lot signs and car stops. We also offer an extensive range of concrete services as well as site work. Our highly trained crews deliver exceptional quality at affordable rates. You can call us at (859) 299-8111 to request a free estimate or submit the online form.

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