What is alligator cracking?

alligator crackingAlligator cracking, also referred to as fatigue cracking or crocodile cracking, refers to a pattern of asphalt damage that resembles the scales on an alligator’s skin. The cracks form co-joined, irregular “blocks’ that are often four-sided, such as rectangles, but they can also have more sides and on occasion, as few as three sides.

Left unrepaired, alligator cracking can result in the need for extensive work to salvage the pavement. Typically, alligatored asphalt must be removed and replaced, and since the cracking will continue to spread, the entire surface can be destroyed in a relatively short time.

Alligator cracking is almost always the result of issues that are hidden beneath the surface. Asphalt requires a strong foundation to enable it to bear the weight of traffic. In the foundation becomes compromised, the asphalt cannot support the weight and it begins to crack in a distinctive alligator pattern.

There are a number of ways that an asphalt foundation can have its integrity compromised, but the leading cause is destabilization through the introduction of water. Cracks or potholes in asphalt should be repaired as soon as they are noticed. Otherwise, rain, melting snow or runoff can penetrate to the foundation. This can cause the foundation to shift or erode, and if the water freezes, it will expand and make the problem even worse. When the frozen water melts, it will further erode the foundation. Lacking the support it needs, the asphalt begins to crack under the weight of every vehicle that passes over the stressed area.

The best way to deal with alligator cracking is to prevent it. A regular pavement maintenance program to repair small cracks promptly and maintain the sealcoating can help keep alligator cracking from happening. If the asphalt has already alligatored, the only true solution is to remove the damaged asphalt, repair the foundation and replace the asphalt. Temporary measures, such as filling large cracks and top-coating the area, offer short-term solutions at best, but these measures can sometimes be useful to buy time for a proper “remove and replace” operation to be scheduled.

If you need help protecting your investment in asphalt, call the professionals at Affordable Striping & Sealing. We offer a wide range of services, from pavement striping and bumper blocks to repairing cracks and asphalt sealcoating. We always use the best materials and most current techniques to deliver outstanding work at competitive prices. Request a free quote by using our online form, or give us a call at (702) 222-9009.