Inspecting asphalt involves assessing its condition, identifying any damages or issues, and determining the necessary repairs or maintenance. Here’s a general process for inspecting asphalt:

  • Visual Inspection: Start by visually examining the asphalt surface. Look for signs of cracking, potholes, raveling (loose aggregate), rutting, or any other visible damage. Then, walk or drive around the area to get a comprehensive view.
  • Surface Condition: Evaluate the overall condition of the asphalt surface. Check for signs of oxidation, discoloration, or fading. Also, assess the smoothness and texture of the pavement.
  • Cracks: Identify and categorize different types of cracks, such as longitudinal cracks (parallel to the direction of traffic), transverse cracks (perpendicular to the direction of traffic), or block cracks (interconnected rectangular cracks). Measure the width and length of the cracks using a ruler or crack gauge.
  • Potholes: Look for potholes or depressions in the asphalt surface. Measure their size and depth. Assess the severity of the damage and its impact on the pavement’s usability.
  • Drainage Issues: Check for proper drainage. Look for standing water or areas where water accumulates on the surface. Poor drainage can lead to accelerated pavement deterioration.
  • Pavement Markings: Evaluate the condition of pavement markings, such as lane lines, arrows, and symbols. Note any fading, missing markings, or signs of wear.
  • Structural Assessment: If necessary, conduct a structural assessment to determine the integrity of the pavement layers. This may involve coring, where samples are taken from the asphalt to evaluate its thickness and composition.
  • Subbase Inspection: Assess the condition of the subbase or underlying layers. Uneven or sinking areas in the asphalt may indicate subbase issues that require attention.
  • Documentation: To create a comprehensive inspection report, record your findings, including photographs and measurements. This report can be used to plan repairs or maintenance.

It’s worth noting that a professional asphalt inspector or civil engineer may be required for more detailed assessments or complex projects.

Inspecting asphalt in a laboratory involves conducting tests and analyses to evaluate its properties and quality. Here are some standard methods used to examine asphalt in a laboratory:

  • Sample Collection: Obtain representative samples of the asphalt to be tested. This can be done by collecting cores from the pavement or obtaining bulk samples from construction sites.
  • Sieve Analysis: Perform a sieve analysis to determine the asphalt mixture’s gradation or particle size distribution. This test involves passing the sample through a series of sieves with different mesh sizes to separate the particles into various fractions.
  • Extraction and Binder Content: Determine the asphalt binder content in the mixture using an extraction test. This involves extracting the binder from the sample using a suitable solvent and then weighing the extracted binder to calculate its percentage in the mixture.
  • Asphalt Composition: Analyze the composition of the asphalt binder using techniques such as thin-layer chromatography (TLC) or gas chromatography (GC). These methods can help identify the types of binders and their properties, including viscosity, penetration, or stiffness.
  • Marshall Stability and Flow: Conduct Marshall tests to evaluate the stability and flow characteristics of the asphalt mixture. This test involves compacting cylindrical samples of the mix and subjecting them to loading and deformation to measure their resistance to deformation and flow.
  • Density and Void Analysis: Determine the density and void characteristics of the asphalt mixture using methods like bulk specific gravity (Gmb) and percent air voids. These tests provide insights into the compactness and durability of the asphalt mix.
  • Moisture Susceptibility: Assess the moisture susceptibility or resistance of the asphalt mix by conducting tests such as the AASHTO T283 or AASHTO T324. These tests evaluate the mixture’s ability to resist damage caused by moisture infiltration.
  • Performance Testing: Perform additional performance-related tests depending on the specific requirements and objectives. These tests can include rutting, fatigue, or stiffness tests, which assess the asphalt’s ability to withstand traffic loads and environmental conditions.
  • Compliance with Standards: Compare the laboratory test results with established specifications, such as those provided by transportation agencies or industry standards. Verify if the asphalt mix meets the required criteria.

It’s important to note that asphalt testing procedures may vary depending on the specific laboratory equipment, testing standards, and project requirements. Therefore, PMET trained technicians or engineers with expertise in asphalt testing should perform these laboratory inspections.