What causes asphalt to fail?
Assuming that the initial asphalt pavement was designed and constructed properly, the primary cause of failure is the penetration of water into the asphalt base. Asphalt failure often begins with the oxidation of an untreated pavement surface which causes the asphalt to become dry and brittle. The top layer of fine particles erodes, exposing the larger aggregate and leading to small cracks on the surface. These cracks will grow if left untreated, allowing water to penetrate to the base of the pavement. When water enters the base of the pavement, the base material shifts and settles leading to further cracking and a depression in the surface. As water pools in the depressed area, the asphalt further deteriorates and becomes unstable. When the pavement reaches this stage, removal and replacement of the old asphalt is often the only remedy.
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