Magazine

Scheduled Care & Maintenance Critical for Parking Deck Safety

Dennis Ahrenhoersterbaeumer

Parking garages are significant investments that require care and maintenance. Each structure is an integration of components functioning together as one. All systems must be in good repair in order to maximize the life of the garage.
A prime example of this is the protection provided by the waterproofing system to the main structural members. If the waterproofing system fails, allowing water and water-borne chloride to attack the structural members, corrosion of reinforcing steel or structural connections can lead to a loss of structural integrity and costly repairs.
Left unchecked, these losses can lead to even greater ones. Veterans of the business will recall the collapse of a small parking garage in Minneapolis in the mid-1980s. The cause was determined to be severe corrosion progressing over many years. Such incidents led Minneapolis and other cities to institute annual inspections for parking garages.
Industry professionals recommend that parking structures be inspected at least once a year. If the deck has been in service for more than a few years, a thorough condition survey performed by a licensed professional engineer specializing in parking structures is strongly suggested. Ignoring one's obligation to care for a structure generally leads to repair costs that could have been avoided.
Nearby is an Annual Action Guide. This handy checklist is a guide to actions that should be taken at least once each year to help ensure the integrity of a parking structure. Keep it handy and make copies for an annual review of all parking structures.
If your review uncovers concrete deficiencies, a professional investigation to determine the extent of the problem is warranted. Appropriate repairs should be defined and executed only by crews with extensive parking deck experience. Ill-conceived or poorly executed repairs often lead to increased deterioration. Remember: Neglect of maintenance or improper repairs will contribute to shortening the life of your structure.
The Western Group have developed two handy inspection guides to assist you in assessing the conditions of your parking structures. Each guide has detailed photos that show you where to look and what to look for and lets you record your findings.

For more information, log on to www.westerngroup.com.

Dennis Ahrenhoersterbaeumer is the Director of Business Deveelopment for the Western Group.


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Parking Structure Annual Action Guide
Here is a basic checklist of steps you should be taking at least annually:
Sweep the deck and pick up all litter and debris.
Flush the deck with water each spring and fall to remove dirt and chloride. This is also an effective way to check your fire hoses.
Check that your floor drains are not obstructed and that the drainpipes are functional.
Inspect the underside of supported slabs for evidence of leaks, such as stains or efflorescence.
Inspect the deck while wet for ponding water or poor drainage.
Inspect expansion-joint seals for torn or cut glands, deteriorated edges, broken connections and snowplow damage.
Inspect traffic coatings for loose or disbonded portions, excessive wear, cuts and gouges.
Check for visible indications of concrete deterioration spalls, surface scaling, rust, cracking, etc.
Check that parking bumpers are secured and in place.
Check that guardrails and retention cables are in good order.
Check all lighting.
Check that the fire extinguishers are in place and properly charged.
Check all alarm systems.
Check your sprinkler systems.
Check all ticketing equipment.
If snow removal is a factor, make sure that a guideline defining the correct equipment and procedures is distributed, and that it is followed by your plowing contractor.

Article Abstract from June, 2004




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