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Asphalt parking lots and other pavements can have surprisingly long lives if they are given sufficient care. Preventive maintenance procedures, including crack repairs and sealcoating, can help you avoid costly repairs or premature pavement failure. However, although routine maintenance can prevent some types of damage, an asphalt pavement can also suffer damage that is not related to improper maintenance. These types of damage are typically referred to as pavement distress.

What Are Some Examples of Asphalt Pavement Distress? 

If a problem is not the result of neglected paving maintenance, then it is typically the result of an error on the part of the paving company that built the pavement.

1. Rutting: If pavements have depressions or wavy marks that align with the path that vehicles follow, asphalt companies refer to this as rutting. Ruts pose a hazard to drivers who encounter them unexpectedly, especially at high speed. Water will collect in the ruts, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Ruts are a sign that the foundation is not strong enough to support the traffic the pavement receives. Sometimes, rutting is caused by a design error by the paving company, but it can also occur if a pavement’s use changes after construction. For example, a quiet street in a residential neighborhood may be used to redirect traffic while a major artery is under repair. Instead of supporting a few dozen passenger vehicles, the street is now supporting hundreds of vehicles, including heavyweight trucks.
2. Shoving: Asphalt paving companies often use the terms shoving and washboarding interchangeably, and both terms refer to a specific distress pattern. Shoving shows up as waves or ripples in the pavement that are normally found in places requiring drivers to stop and go. Crosswalks, traffic lights, and stop signs are often in the vicinity of the shoving. In almost all cases, shoving is the result of an error in the mix. Too much asphalt cement, too little aggregate, or the wrong asphalt cement are possible mix errors that can result in shoving.
3. Tears or Wrinkles: Rips or crescent-shaped wrinkles or cracks are normally a sign of a bond failure. Some asphalt paving companies refer to the problem as slippage cracks. The failed bond can be the one between the aggregate base and the first asphalt course, or it can be between any two asphalt courses. The problem normally manifests within 12 months, and it could show up within a few days. Although usually caused by an installation error, slippage can also be caused by ground movement or a structural flaw.
4. Flushing: Asphalt companies use this term to describe the shiny, smooth patches that can sometimes appear on the surface of a pavement. These patches normally appear in the wheel paths, and they are virtually always by an excessive amount of asphalt cement in the mix.

What Are Some Examples of Asphalt Paving Distress That Are Related to Improper Maintenance?

Routine paving maintenance can help prevent many types of damage. For example, if you sealcoat a parking lot, it will be less likely to become brittle and crack. Timely crack repairs can help prevent water infiltration, which can inflict serious damage on the foundation. Pavements that are neglected long enough will start showing signs of distress.

1. Alligator Cracking: This refers to a pattern of distress in which there are numerous interconnected cracks. The cracking pattern resembles the skin of an alligator, crocodile, or other reptile. Most of the time, alligator cracking is caused by water that has penetrated to the foundation and destabilized it. However, it is also possible that the commercial paving contractor failed to achieve sufficient compaction when constructing the pavement.
2. Pumping: Pumping occurs when traffic forces mud or water to the surface. It is a sure sign that there is water beneath the surface of the pavement, and it is likely already damaging the foundation. The source of the water is usually potholes or cracks that were not repaired in a timely manner. However, if the paving company did not address potential subterranean drainage issues, pumping can sometimes occur.

The Surface Masters is an Atlanta paving company and we can help you identify and correct your distressed or damaged pavement. Our services include asphalt milling and resurfacing, asphalt paving, sealcoating, asphalt striping, crack sealing, asphalt repairs, pavement markings, and concrete work. We are a respected company with a reputation for exemplary service and exceptional workmanship. You can request a free quote by completing our online form, calling 770-250-6392, or emailing Info@TheSurfaceMasters.com.

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