How to Handle Parking Structure Weather Challenges Year-Round
Weather resiliency, or the ability of a structure to withstand weather events, has become increasingly important as weather patterns change and become more severe. But even without severe weather, parking structures will face plenty of challenges thanks to rain, snow, extreme heat and wind.
There are two ways to look at responding to the environment. The first, and more costly, is to only address weather-related damage when it happens. The other is to proactively plan and prepare for it, saving money and time and increasing the service life of your garage.
Common weather challenges
Water is perhaps one of the most frequent environmental challenges to a parking garage. Water can degrade concrete and seep into supporting metal structures, causing rust and delamination, while salt from marine environments can cause accelerated corrosion. A little bit of water might not seem like a big problem, but it’s important to keep in mind that years of water penetration, without treatment, creates cumulative damage to your parking structure. Ultimately, this leads to much bigger, much more expensive fixes. That’s why keeping up garage waterproofing efforts is so important.
Damage from snow can happen in a few different ways. Overloading due to piled snow can put more weight on your structure than the design allows. And plow damage can happen when a plow piles snow against a load-bearing wall, pushing it away from the structure and dislodging it, which could cause structural damage and the need for emergency repair. Likewise, chemical damage is possible if a garage is improperly treated for snow and ice.
Extreme heat can cause a structure to expand and contract in ways that, if not considered during building, may result in cracking and oxidation. Likewise, waterproofing sealants and coatings may crack apart in the heat, which means the next time it rains, your parking structure isn’t protected.
Your every-season checklist
Being proactive when facing weather challenges throughout the year can mean the difference between expensive, unplanned repairs and routine, expected maintenance as part of your weather resiliency plan. An important part of weather resiliency, and one that’s often overlooked, is maintenance staff training. If your maintenance staff doesn’t know how to identify, address or avoid common weather-related challenges, your parking garage will continue to deteriorate or experience unexpected damage from weather-related incidents.
Outside of training, however, there are specific ways to address weather-related issues throughout the year.
The biggest challenge with spring is rain. So, take steps to make sure your garage is ready.
- Check for water damage and pooling near drains and other low-lying areas.
- Watch for leaks during heavy rainstorms and schedule repairs, if needed.
- Perform an inspection to uncover and address any new winter damage.
- Look for cracks in the concrete, chipping in topical waterproofing coatings and any damage to joints.
Summer certainly comes with the challenge of rain, but it can also mean heat waves and severe storms.
- On very hot days, check on joints and waterproofing coatings for cracking and flaking.
- Check for water pooling and leaks after heavy rains.
- Perform an inspection for structural damage after severe storms.
Fall can bring any number of challenges, including rain, snow, cold and heat. But this is also the time to prepare for winter maintenance.
- Check drains for debris buildup and clear any clogs.
- Inspect waterproofing surfaces after large temperature fluctuations.
- Prepare your team for the colder months with winter maintenance training.
The biggest concerns for a parking garage during winter are snow and ice. But with training and preparation, you can overcome these challenges.
- Inspect joints and surfaces after snow cleanup or ice removal for accidental damage to joints or parking garage deck waterproofing.
- Lessen the chance of damage by clearly marking joints for easy identification during snow removal.
- Check for ice buildup in unexpected places, like wall joints or drains.
- Ensure snow piles are not heavier than your parking structure can handle.
- Use de-icers to prevent slip-and-fall injuries.
- Make sure your maintenance crew applies de-icers correctly to lessen the risk of corrosion.
- Communicate with third-party contractors about joint locations and where to pile snow.
A partner that’s ready year-round
Being ready for what the weather has to dish out can be challenging, but that’s what StructureCare is here for. With our extensive knowledge and experience, we can help you develop a proactive maintenance plan that accounts for extreme weather and typical wear-and-tear. Plus, we can help train your staff to look for the signs of weather-related deterioration long before they become much bigger problems.
After a severe weather event, we can also come to your parking garage and determine what damage occurred and how to handle it quickly. We’ll even coordinate all third-party contractor repair communication. Our job is to make sure your parking garage is ready every season of the year so you don’t need to worry about every dark cloud on the horizon.