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What Causes Asphalt to Fail?

Water is Asphalt’s Biggest Foe
Asphalt contractors can create a well-compacted base that allows water to pass through without retaining it below the asphalt’s surface. We can prepare asphalt for extreme Kansas City temperatures. We can design an asphalt lot based on the predicted traffic. Yet, water is asphalt’s biggest foe and can cause failure. The best defense against asphalt failure due to water is to have your asphalt contractor perform scheduled asphalt sealing and maintenance to prevent water seepage.

The Asphalt’s Thickness isn’t Adequate
Lack of knowledge or skimping on asphalt material can result in a surface that is too thin to support the car or truck loads that travel on it. When heavy loads continually drive on thin asphalt lots, cracks and/or ruts occur, which only worsen over time with each load. For asphalt lots and drives meant to handle cars, the depth of asphalt can be a bit thinner than those that will be traveled by heavier trucks. To avoid asphalt failure, your asphalt contractor must plan accordingly for the type of vehicle and traffic the lot will have.

Lack of Regular, Scheduled Maintenance
When properly installed and regularly maintained, asphalt surfaces can last 20 to 30 years. It is lack of asphalt repair for cracks, ongoing maintenance and regular sealcoating that shortens this time and leads to premature replacement. Even small cracks should be repaired immediately to protect the asphalt from water seeping down and undermining surface strength.

Weak Subgrade
The subgrade is the soil underneath the asphalt that supports the wheel loads. Weak subgrades cannot support vehicle traffic and will move excessively under heavier pressure, which causes cracks. Cracks left unsealed will cause eventual asphalt failure.

Professional asphalt contractors can account for variations in the subgrade and address them in the asphalt surface design. This helps avoid or minimize the subgrade’s weakness for a strong, long-lasting asphalt lot.

Oil and Gas Spills
Petroleum spills happen. But they need to be cleaned up before they deteriorate asphalt’s Finer aggregates and leave the larger aggregates without any binding material. Petroleum-based products like oil and gas dissolve the cement that bonds asphalt. Once compromised, water can penetrate the surface and seep to the subgrade, causing cracks and potholes.

Quality of Construction
Improper compaction, lack of repair and maintenance, weak subgrade and poor construction cause asphalt to fail. McConnell & Associates performs detailed inspections and has quality control procedures during construction to avoid asphalt failure. Also, we provide asphalt service, repair, maintenance and replacement across the Midwest and help our customers extract the most value from their investments without fail.