Pavement Problems to Tackle This Spring

Pavement Problems to Tackle This Spring

By Nate Olson, A&A Paving

Our Midwest seasonal freezing and thawing cycle is brutal on pavement. This winter brought wide temperature swings, and we are just now starting to see the damage. More than just temperatures are to blame for springtime potholes, however. De-icing materials (like commercial-grade rock salt) compromise protective sealcoating and breakdown asphalt and concrete over time.

When property managers walk around their properties each spring, looking for winter damage that must be repaired, they note driveways heaving, curbs splitting and roads pitted with potholes. Here are some common problems they notice.

pavement heaving after harsh winter


Heaving is caused by water getting underneath the asphalt into the material called aggregate. When temperatures drop, water freezes and causes the asphalt to heave upward. The heaving creates gaps that can cause additional damage to pavement and even to building structures. Severe heaving can actually stop doors from opening and closing properly.

pavement raveling after winter damage


Raveling happens when pavement thaws and tiny holes allow water to seep in. Unsealed asphalt absorbs water like a sponge. The water then freezes in the cracks. Without sealer, the water penetrates and causes the aggregate mix of little stones and sand to come loose. If you’ve got areas of loose gravel on your driveway or community parking area -you’ve probably got raveling.

Cracking pavement near catchbasin

Open Cracking

Open cracks indicate that water has seeped all the way down into your asphalt and that the base underneath is likely wet – see our previous article on this issue (see Pothole Repairs article). Open cracks are formed by freezing and thawing. It’s important to address open cracks when they are small, as little cracks can grow up to be big potholes.

alligator cracks in pavement from winter damage

Alligator Cracking

Named for its resemblance to scaly reptile skin, alligator or crocodile cracking is a series of cracks that are in a crisscross pattern. This condition indicates the pavement can no longer tolerate the weight of vehicle traffic. If you see this in your community you will need to replace that section of asphalt entirely. Patching alligator cracking is not a viable long-term solution.

How to fix pothole in pavement


Potholes get all the attention because they can burst tires and swallow small pets whole. They’re caused by ice and snow melting during Illinois’ seasonal freezing and thawing cycle. Water gets into a small hole in the pavement, and as temperatures fall, that water freezes, expands, and forces the pavement to rise. As traffic runs over the raised pavement, a depression is made, the pavement cracks, and a pothole is born.

pavement damage sinkhole near catchbasin

Sinkholes Near Catch Basins

Catch basins (or storm sewers) take surface water into the storm drains to prevent flooding. They also take a lot of abuse, including being clogged with debris and developing adjacent sinkholes. Salt, freeze/thaw cycles and heavy traffic are to blame. It’s important to note that a sinkhole is a sign of a damaged catch basin and poses a liability to your HOA (Home Owner’s Association). You’ll need a reliable contractor to assess the severity of your sinkhole in order to determine one of several possible repair options.

Once a manager has assessed the damage, it’s important to get organized. While the repairs themselves must wait until weather is warm and dry enough for the materials to set properly, managers will need to talk to paving contractors early to get on their schedule for a summer project.

Make sure to ask:

  • Are you familiar with ADA requirements for our local village/community?
  • Will you help us pull permits?
  • Do you guarantee your work?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Can we see examples of your work? (Pro Tip: Make sure you ask to see work that is at least 2-3 years old so you can see how it’s wearing.)

No matter who you decide to work with, it’s important to tackle your community association’s pavement problems immediately. Letting them go will only create bigger, more expensive problems next year.