The Best Practices of Asphalt Crack Sealing

Cracks come in all shapes and sizes, and no pavement is immune to cracking. If left untreated, those cracks are only the start of more significant problems, from potholes all the way to sub-base failure.

According to the Pavement Preservation & Recycling Alliance’s roadresource.org, 75 percent of unsealed cracks develop into potholes within three years, while only 1 percent of sealed cracks develop into potholes in that same timeframe. Considering the benefits gained from reduced vehicle damage, increased driver safety and reduced road maintenance, it’s clear why crack sealing is important.

Crack sealing is the process of placing an adhesive sealant into cracks on the pavement surface, preventing the infiltration of moisture and non-compressible materials into the pavement. It is a cost-effective pavement preservation treatment that can slow pavement’s deterioration and extend pavement life by three to five years. A crack-sealed road can be opened to traffic almost immediately when a de-tacking agent is used.

Crack sealing can be used for cracks wider than ⅛ of an inch, including block, edge, longitudinal, reflective, thermal or transverse cracking. Pavement experiencing alligator cracking may not be a candidate for crack sealing, as the alligator cracks indicate failures requiring repair beyond crack sealing, as originally reported in AsphaltPro’s 2016 article “How to Crack Seal Right, Step by Step”. Potholes and cracks wider than 1½ inches also should not be crack sealed.

Crack sealing is the process of placing an adhesive sealant into cracks on the pavement surface, preventing the infiltration of moisture and non-compressible materials into the pavement.

“Errantly applied sealant looks unprofessional and can cost road owners hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year,” said Jamie O’Driscoll of Crafco Inc., Chandler, Arizona. “It can also reduce skid resistance.”

If the pavement is a candidate for crack sealing, that treatment should be performed in the spring or fall when cracks are neither completely open (as they are in winter) nor closed (as they are in summer). Most manufacturers recommend a minimum pavement temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Performing crack sealing at lower temperatures results in reduced adhesion. A hot air lance may be required to warm the pavement if crack sealing must happen when the pavement temperature is below 40 degrees.

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