Balancing Urban Development and Water Conservation

The Crack Effect

Posted March 4, 2020 @ 12:33pm | by Victorian

The Crack Effect

March Newsletter/Blog


The Crack Effect


Now that we are seeing glimpses of non-winter ahead, we get excited for green grass, beautiful flowers and warm sunlight rays. Unfortunately before the goodness happens we get the remnants that are left behind with winter; the ugliness. Dirty sediment, dormant vegetation and the reminder that it’s clean-up time. Time to get to work.


Winter takes a toll on pavements too 

Over the winter you may have noticed cracks in your driveway, sidewalk or patio a bit more than you usually do. Where the frost is most active is where the most movement occurs. That movement then translates to where the pavement is most susceptible. With concrete, after installation, cuts are placed in the surface with the intent that the movement will translate to those weakened areas (but that isn’t always the case). For asphalt, the surface is laid as one continuous mat so the expansion cracks form more “organically,” shall we say. 


Freeze/thaw cycle

Cold temperatures cause surfaces to contract which in turn makes those cracks look bigger. Conversely, warmer temperatures cause expansion, making the cracks smaller. What worsens cracks and diminishes pavement integrity? 

  • freeze/thaw cycles; 
  • severity of temperatures during those cycles; 
  • frequency of those cycles;
  • the quality and depth of base aggregate - provides a buffer to underlying earth movement; and,
  • existing subsoils - clay soils retain moisture which exacerbates the expansion/contraction process.


Thawing and moisture

Moisture becomes the biggest culprit.  As moisture enters into the crack it will get into the underlying base and potentially subsoils that will compromise the foundational support of the surface. When a substantial amount of force is applied, i.e. driving/parking a car over that spot, the surface is no longer supported properly and is prone to “caving” in. This is why you see potholes in the city street go from small to large quickly. In a driveway, generally you won’t see potholes but you’ll notice hairline cracks in the pavement around the crack beginning to form.


When should I pay attention to cracks?

With springtimes bringing more chances of rain, it’s a good time to think about crackfilling. Cracks up to 1/2” generally aren’t substantial enough to merit filling but you can still do so - it just is more difficult to get the material in. You can either continue to watch those smaller cracks until they’re at a point to fill or you can choose to route (widen) the crack to get an ample amount of material in. This is usually done by a contractor. 

Cracks over 1/2” generally should be filled. There are various materials on the market, whether you have an asphalt or concrete surface which can be purchased at your local hardware store or if you want a better commercial-grade product we recommend SealMaster in St. Paul (asphalt) or Brock White (concrete). 


If you’d like some assistance with getting this work done, give us a call/email and we can send our team out to get it done for you!  (763) 784-3833 or


If I don’t fill the cracks now what can happen?

Over time, when pavement is exposed to underlying moisture issues that cause the surface to be unsupported, more cracking will appear and can become more extensive. Once these areas begin to spread with cracks, generally termed “alligatoring,” it’s time to do something. Whether it’s a surface patch, infrared repair or a full dig-out and replacement our estimating team of Shelly, Derek and Gary can provide you the information you need to make an informed choice.


What is infrared technology and what repairs are appropriate?

Infrared is a heating system that penetrates deeper into the asphalt surface and allows a solid bond of the new asphalt to the existing. Repairs that can be fixed with infrared are; areas of porosity (“rocky”) that is unsightly,“birdbaths,” minor surface imperfections, oil spot removals and wide crack repairs. 


Earth Wizards has this technology on hand for any small areas! 


If you’d like more information on these topics and remedies for repairing asphalt and concrete surfaces, click on the following links or feel free to reach out to us directly:



Like us on Facebook and/or Instagram for more content and updates including highlights on some exciting projects! 

Filed Under: News Letter | Permalink

I have already recommended you! Our consultant, Shelly, was extremely knowledgeable. She explained (the process) in technical detail. She is the reason I chose Earth Wizards over the other 5 bidders. Installation crew was terrific and exceeded my expectations.

- Don P.
XML Sitemap