Parking Garage Cleaning: When Did You Last Wash Yours?

Parking Garage Cleaning: When Did You Last Wash Yours?

11/22/2021

Parking garage cleaning

Parking garages need to be cleaned twice a year to maximize the structural lifetime and integrity. Two primary factors contribute to parking garage failures: moisture and chlorides (a.k.a. salt). There is not much to prevent the former—barring a deck coating—but the latter must be addressed biannually. Chloride buildup can damage and eventually ruin the structural integrity of your parking deck.

Parking Garages in Cold Locations

Parking garage overpass covered in snow

In places with extreme freeze-thaw cycles—like Northeast Ohio—chloride buildup is common in parking garages. When people park their cars, the snow melts and drips off road salt that was picked up. The resulting slurry infiltrates into the concrete slab and structural members. Next time you park in the winter, look down and notice the shimmery slickness. Unless already dealt with, there will most likely be a buildup from previous winters.

Example: Broken Post Tension Cables in a Multi-Story Parking Deck

It’s simple—parking garages can fail due to ignored salt. One client example involved a garage that had 40 broken post tension cables spread throughout the multi-story deck. The issue was even visible in some areas, showing large de-laminations in the concrete slab. Fortunately, this was identified through a maintenance project that one of our experts identified and addressed, but if multiple post tension cables failed in one level, the garage could have become a serious life-safety risk.

Parking Garage Cleaning is Easy

The positive news is that washing your garage is not complicated. A good rinse will break up and wash out any compacted salt. It is possible that the sheer amount of sludge requires a deep clean power washing process. As a consultant and parking deck expert, Technical Assurance can assess whether that is required. The best times to give your parking garage its much-needed shower are in the spring thaw and in the heart of fall. The spring cleaning takes care of any buildup from the previous winter, while the fall prepares the garage for the ensuing cold weather.

As a building owner or manager, you should keep an eye on your parking deck for any issues starting to arise. Garage failures may or may not be easily apparent, but that’s where Technical Assurance can provide input and solve the problems. Our expert engineers can assess, identify and quantify defects to determine the condition of your parking garage.

Fix Problems When They’re Small

Preventative maintenance is all about catching small issues before they grow to exponentially larger problems. Every building and structure is different, but similar issues affect most of them. Those issues include (but are not limited to):

  • Water intrusion
  • Displaced or failing masonry
  • Spalled or delaminated masonry
  • Corroding structural steel
  • Staining or biological growth

On their own, these issues are potentially enough to pose a serious risk to the building’s integrity and longevity. When ignored, any of these little, easy-to-fix issues can evolve into expensive problems that can cause serious damage.

Example: Steel Lintel Failure

A high rise downtown building owner had a structure with a steel lintel near the end of its anticipated life cycle. This lintel had significant corrosion, likely due to failed sealants and lack of tuck-pointing. Soon the whole lintel needed to be replaced when simply addressing the maintenance issues before it failed would have saved significant repair costs.

While the issue would not have been apparent to the casual observer, it would have been an instant red flag to a professional. Technical Assurance routinely performs proactive maintenance during regular assessments to help you identify defects and avoid larger issues like the failed lintel.

Perform Regular Assessments and Preventative Maintenance

Ideally, it is best to perform yearly maintenance. Building owners with facilities in places with extreme freeze-thaw cycles need to be cognizant that the weather will have a larger impact in the colder months. The optimum time to schedule an inspection would be the spring, though the fall is important to gain knowledge of any areas to watch out for in the future.

Our field staff is well qualified to provide these services while they’re already performing assessment or other consulting services.

Request a Free Parking Garage Assessment

Do you need an assessment performed on your parking garage? We’d be happy to set up a free consultation to learn more.