# 19 Mat Problems SURFACE WAVES

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1 SECTION 19 Mat Problems Mat problems can be defined as defects that occur in the asphalt mixture during or soon after the laydown and compaction operations have been completed. These problems fall into two primary categories: (a) equipmentrelated problems and (b) mixture-related problems. In this section, major mat problems are reviewed and a description of each problem is presented, including its causes, solutions, and effects on long-term pavement performance. Table 19-1 summarizes the problems reviewed. The first column lists the various problems, while the remaining columns enumerate possible causes for each. The checks indicate equipment-related causes, while the x s indicate mix-related causes, which should generally be corrected by changes in the mix design. Provided throughout the discussion of causes are crossreferences to earlier sections where greater detail can be found. Note that because of the interaction of various equipment-related and mix-related causes, no attempt has been made to rank the various causes. SURFACE WAVES An asphalt surface can have two types of waves: short and long. Short waves, also sometimes called ripples or auger shadows, are generally 0.3 to 0.9 m (1 to 3 ft) apart, with 0.45 to 0.60 m (1 1 2 to 2 ft) being the most common separation. Long waves are considerably farther apart. The distance between them may correspond to the distance between truckloads of mix. Long waves may also be associated with the reversal points of the compaction equipment, particularly on thick-lift construction or when the HMA being placed is tender and moving longitudinally under the compaction equipment. An additional type of defect in the pavement surface is a roughness or washboard effect caused by improper operation of a vibratory roller. The distance between these waves is generally very small, typically less than 75 or 100 mm (3 or 4 in.). A major cause of short waves or ripples is a fluctuating head of material in front of the paver screed. The variation in the amount of mix being carried back to the augers by the slat conveyors and deposited in front of the screed causes the screed to rise and fall as the force pushing against it changes. Too much mix (at the top of the augers) and then too little mix (at the bottom of the augers) being carried in the auger chamber in front of the screed causes the wavy surface as the screed reacts to this variation in force. The fluctuating head of material causes the screed to rotate around its pivot point and hunt for an angle of attack. As the angle of attack of the screed changes, the thickness of the mat being placed also changes, and the smoothness of the new layer is directly affected. (See Section 15.) Another cause of short waves is a screed that is in poor mechanical condition one with excessive play in the screed control connections. Short waves can also be formed in the mat by improper mounting or sensitivity of the automatic grade control on the paver or by use of an inadequate grade reference device. Or the problem may be related to a mobile reference (floating beam) that is bouncing, or to the truck driver s holding the brakes while the truck is being pushed by the paver. (See Section 16.) Short waves can also be related to the mix design, particularly with a mix that varies in stiffness as a result of changes in the mix temperature or composition. (See Section 3.) As the stiffness of the mix varies, the forces of the mix pushing on the screed vary as well, causing the screed to rise and fall and resulting in a mat with short waves. Finally, if the mix design is improper in aggregate gradation, asphalt content, mix temperature, or moisture content (the mix is tender), the rollers may shove and displace the mix during the compaction process. Normally, however, short waves are placed in the mat by the paver because of either its operation or changes in mix stiffness, rather than by the operation of the compaction equipment. Long waves are caused by some of the same variables that result in short waves. Fluctuation in the amount of material in front of the screed and variation in mix stiff-

2 SECTION 19 Mat Problems 195 TABLE 19-1 Mat Problems and Their ness cause the screed to react to the change in the force exerted on it. If the distance between the wave peaks corresponds to the length of pavement between truckloads of mix, however, the waves may have been caused by incorrectly set hopper flow gates on the paver or by the paver hopper and slat conveyors being emptied between loads of mix. (See Section 13.) Poor mechanical condition and improper operation of the screed (continually changing the manual thickness control cranks, for example; see Section 15), as well as incorrectly mounted automatic grade controls (see Section 16), can cause a long-wave problem. If a stringline is being used as a grade reference, a sag in that line between support posts can also be a cause of long waves (see Section 16). Another factor contributing to long-wave roughness is improper delivery of the mix to the paver, particularly if the haul truck bumps into the paver or if the truck driver holds the brakes while the truck is being pushed by the paver (see Section 13). One additional factor can be the condition of the underlying surface: the long waves may be a reflection of the waves in the base material. Long waves may also be found at those points where the compaction equipment reverses direction. This prob- lem is most prevalent when the asphalt layer being placed is more than about 100 mm (4 in.) thick. The problem may be exacerbated when the maximum-size aggregate used in the mix is relatively small compared with the lift thickness. The waves are caused by a bow wave that forms in front of the roller when the mix is tender. In terms of mix design, long waves can be caused by truckload-to-truckload segregation of the mix and by changes in mix temperature (see Section 3). Both of these deficiencies cause the forces on the screed to vary, resulting in a wavy surface. The compaction equipment can also create a wavy mat if the roller operator turns or reverses the machine too abruptly. Roughness or washboarding is normally caused by improper operation of a vibratory roller (see Section 18). This type of equipment should be operated at as high a frequency as possible and at an amplitude setting related to the thickness of the layer being compacted usually a higher amplitude setting for a thicker layer of mix and a lower amplitude setting for a thinner lift. Further, the washboard effect can be worse if the roller is operated at a high speed, particularly if the frequency setting is less than 2,400 vibrations per minute.

8 SECTION 19 Mat Problems 201 per minute, however, the increased compactive effort achieved with the tamper bar is typically lost, and the degree of compaction obtained is similar to that achieved with a simple vibratory screed. The amount of precompaction achieved with the screed decreases as the paver speed increases (see Section 15). Precompaction generally increases slightly as the frequency of the screed vibration increases. Precompaction decreases significantly, however, if the screed is riding on the screed lift cylinders, thereby limiting the available compactive effort. The level of precompaction obtained is also limited if the mat is too thin for the maximum aggregate size used in the mix (less than twice the largestsize aggregate; see the earlier discussion of nonuniform texture), if the mix being placed is too cold, or if the base on which the new layer is being laid is soft and yielding. Decreasing the paver speed and increasing the frequency of vibration of the screed should, within limits, increase the level of precompaction achieved during the laydown operation. It is also possible on some pavers to increase the amplitude of the vibration in order to increase the impact force of the screed on the mix. Proper maintenance of the screed helps as well in obtaining a uniform compactive effort from the screed. As long as the required density level is obtained using conventional rollers behind the paver, the level of precompaction accomplished by the screed will not affect the long-term performance of the HMA layer. It may be possible, however, to reduce the number of roller passes needed to meet the density and air void content criteria if the amount of precompaction obtained by the screed is higher. In addition, increased precompaction density can reduce the amount of differential compaction that occurs in low spots and rutted areas. JOINT PROBLEMS Poor transverse joints are associated either with a bump at the joint, a dip in the pavement surface several meters (feet) beyond the joint, or both. Poor longitudinal joints (Figure 19-2) between passes of the paver are FIGURE 19-2 Poor longitudinal joint due to unsatisfactory workmanship. usually characterized by a difference in elevation between the two lanes, by a raveling of the asphalt mix at the joint, or both. The area adjacent to the longitudinal joint is usually depressed below the level of the surrounding pavement surface. Joint problems are caused by poor construction of the joint, inadequate compaction of mix placed along the joint, improper start-up procedures when paving resumes after a stoppage, or improper construction and removal of tapers. One key to a good transverse joint is to construct the joint at the end of the paving day at a location in the mat where the layer thickness is constant. (See Section 17 for a discussion of joint construction.) This means the compacted thickness of the mat at the end of the paver run is the same as that of the previously placed mat. At the start of paving the following day, the paver screed should be placed on blocks on the cold side of the transverse joint. The thickness of the blocks should be related to the depth of the course being laid approximately 5 mm ( 1 4 in.) thick for each 25 mm (1 in.) of compacted layer thickness. The front edge of the paver screed should then be placed directly over the vertical face of the joint. Once the paver pulls away from the joint, the right amount of mix should be in the right place, and only minimal raking, if any, normally needs to be done. The mix at the joint should then be compacted as quickly as possible. For longitudinal joint construction, it is extremely important to compact the edge of the first lane properly. Doing so requires that the vibratory or static steel wheel

9 202 HOT-MIX ASPHALT PAVING HANDBOOK 2000 roller hang out over the unsupported edge of the mat by about 150 mm (6 in.). This practice provides the most compactive effort along the unconfined edge without causing undue lateral displacement of the mix along the edge of the pavement. When placing the second (adjacent) pavement lane, the end plate on the paver screed should overlap the first lane by 25 to 40 mm (1 to in.). Minimal raking, if any, should be done on the mix placed over the first lane. The rollers vibratory, pneumatic tire, and static steel wheel should operate on the hot side of the joint and extend over the joint on the cold side by approximately 150 mm (6 in.). The same number of roller passes should be made over the longitudinal joint as over each point in the interior of the HMA mat. A poor transverse joint will not affect pavement performance to any significant degree if proper density levels are obtained by the compaction equipment. A poor ride will usually be the only negative result. An improperly constructed longitudinal joint, however, can seriously decrease the serviceability of the pavement structure. A poorly placed and compacted joint will ravel and cause one side of the joint to be lower than the other. If the density level is too low, the whole pavement layer thickness at the longitudinal joint may wear away under the action of traffic. A poor joint will also be porous, allowing water to enter the underlying pavement courses. CHECKING Checking can be defined as short transverse cracks, usually 25 to 75 mm (1 to 3 in.) in length and 25 to 75 mm (1 to 3 in.) apart, that occur in the surface of the HMA mat at some time during the compaction process (see Figures 19-3 and 19-4). The checks are not visible immediately behind the paver screed. Rarely does checking occur during the first or second pass of the compaction equipment over the mat. If checking is going to occur, it will normally take place after the mix has cooled to a temperature of less than 115 C (240 F) and additional passes of vibratory or static steel wheel rollers (or both) are made over the mat. Checking does not usually occur when the mix is compacted with a pneumatic tire roller. Most HMA mixtures do not check at all during compaction, whereas others exhibit tender characteristics and check readily. As checking becomes severe, the cracks FIGURE 19-3 Roller checking during compaction. become longer and are spaced closer together. The cracks do not extend completely through the depth of the course, but are only 10 to 13 mm ( 3 8 to 1 2 in.) deep. A mix that checks during compaction is a tender mix. The mix shoves or moves in front of the drums on either vibratory or static steel wheel rollers. Checks or cracks are formed when a bow wave occurs in front of the roller drums as the mix moves longitudinally before the roller reaches that location. Checking may be caused by two primary factors: (a) excessive deflection of the pavement structure under the compaction equipment (see Section 14) and (b) one or more deficiencies in the asphalt mix design (see Section 3). A mix that checks is not internally stable enough does not have enough internal strength at elevated temperatures to support the weight of the compaction equipment during the rolling process. FIGURE 19-4 Hairline cracks caused by roller checking.

12 SECTION 19 Mat Problems 205 None of the solutions to the checking problem will work in all cases. Each mix will have its own compaction characteristics. For some extremely tender mixes, checking may occur at a wider range of temperatures, from as high as 130 C (270 F) down to as low as 75 C (170 F). As noted, mixes that lack internal stability will generally check under steel wheel rollers (operated in either the vibratory or static mode), and thus these mixes should be redesigned. Although checks extend only a short distance down from the surface, they are highly detrimental to long-term performance because the tender mix characteristics affect the level of density obtained. If the rollers are kept back from the paver in an attempt to decrease the amount of checking that occurs, the level of density obtained by the compaction equipment will normally be reduced significantly. Thus the air void content of the HMA mat will increase. A mix that contains checks will therefore lack density and have a greatly reduced pavement life under traffic. SHOVING AND RUTTING Shoving of an HMA layer is displacement of the mixture in a longitudinal direction. Such displacement may take place during the compaction operation or later under traffic. In most cases, shoving during construction is accompanied by a large bow wave in front of the breakdown roller, particularly if that roller is a vibratory or static steel wheel machine. Shoving may also occur in conjunction with mix checking if the mix is tender enough as a result of faulty aggregate gradation or excess fluids (asphalt binder or moisture) content. Finally, mat or mix shoving can occur at the reversal point of the rollers, especially at the location closest to the paver. A pavement layer that has shoved under the action of traffic is shown in Figure Rutting, illustrated in Figure 19-6, shows displacement of the mixture in both vertical and transverse directions. Rutting occurs when heavy traffic passes over an unstable mix. In a few cases, the rutting is purely vertical (consolidation rutting). In this situation, the mix was not adequately compacted at the time of construction, and the traffic loads are essentially finishing the compaction process. The most common form of rutting is transverse distortion the mix distorts or shoves FIGURE 19-5 Shoving due to unsatisfactory mix. transversely as a result of lateral flow of the mix under applied traffic loads. Shoving and rutting are due primarily to an unstable HMA mixture (see Section 3). This instability can be caused by the same variables that are responsible for checking an excess of fluids (asphalt binder or moisture) in the mix, a hump in the fine aggregate grading curve, or the properties of the aggregate and the asphalt cement. A mix that has a high Marshall or Hveem stability may still distort longitudinally under the compaction equipment and later both longitudinally and transversely under traffic. Shoving and rutting can be highly prevalent when a sand mix is placed in a thick layer [more than 40 mm (1 1 2 in.)] at a high temperature [more than 140 C (280 F)]. Further, thicker lifts in pro- FIGURE 19-6 Rutting of unstable asphalt mixture.

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