Six Common Types of Pavement Defects

October 14, 2020 10:08 pm Published by

High-quality pavement can last for many years, holding up to the elements and regular usage, so long as proper maintenance is performed. Of course, there are potential defects that could form over time. It is important to understand the various types of asphalt pavement distresses that are most likely to occur in Washington, and the steps you can take to prevent or address them.

Here are a few examples:

  • Alligator cracks: Alligator cracking is a series of interconnected cracks, usually forming as a result of repeated traffic loads causing a failure of the surface. Over time, these cracks can allow moisture to seep into the base and subgrade, forming potholes. To repair this problem, you may need to core the pavement or dig out a pit to examine the structural elements of the road below before repairing the area.
  • Bleeding: Bleeding is when a film of asphalt binder forms on the surface of the pavement, creating a shiny surface that’s slippery when wet and sticky when dry. This happens when asphalt binder gets into the aggregate voids, most commonly in hot weather or when there has been significant traffic compaction. It can be corrected by adding some coarse sand to blot up the binder, but if the problem is significant, a planer or grader may be needed.
  • Depressions: A depression is an area where there is a slightly lower elevation than the pavement surrounding it. This can be problematic because depressions can fill up with water during storms, making it more likely that a pothole will form in the area. Repairing a depression should involve removing the affected pavement, replacing the subgrade and then patching over the top.
  • Longitudinal cracking: This type of cracking occurs parallel to the centerline or laydown direction of the pavement, and is generally a kind of fatigue cracking. Over time, this cracking can allow moisture to get underneath the surface, and could indicate the onset of potential structural failure. Strategies for repair depend on the severity of the cracking. For small cracks, sealing can prevent moisture entry. But for cracks over a half inch wide or when there are numerous cracks in an area, you will need to remove and replace the cracked layer.
  • Potholes: Potholes are small depressions in the surface of the pavement that penetrate down to the base layer. They tend to have sharp, vertical sides. Vehicles that drive over potholes could experience damage, especially at high speeds, and the pothole is an easy avenue for moisture to enter the subgrade. Repairs should follow standard patching processes.
  • Rutting: Rutting is a type of surface depression in the wheel path. You are most likely to notice ruts after rainfalls, as they can fill up with water. This can result in hydroplaning, so it’s important to address the issue when noticed. Small ruts can be left untreated, but deeper ruts will need to be leveled off.

It is important to address these types of pavement defects before they lead to complete pavement failure in Washington. For more information about the steps you should take, contact the team at Jimini Paving today.

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