Parking Structure Winter Maintenance
Chemical Management of Snow and Ice
Senior Director of StructureCare
January 26, 2024
Winter is here and facility and property managers in snow-prone areas need to consider the safety of the parking structures they manage. The market for new and reformulated deicing products is vast and often confusing. But StructureCare is here to guide you.
With our extensive experience designing, building, and maintaining parking garages via our parent company, High Concrete Group, StructureCare offers unique insights in providing recommendations for the chemical management of snow and ice.
First, your choice of deicing chemicals will not void a warranty on High Concrete’s precast components. However, winter maintenance practices, including the use of deicing chemicals, can adversely affect the service life of your garage.
As part of our winter maintenance training program, which we offer to clients throughout the Northeast and Midwest, we provide guidance on best practices to mitigate deterioration to your structure. With respect to deicing chemicals: Our experience lends us to conclude, regardless of numerous claims to the contrary, any effective deicing chemical over time will have a detrimental effect on reinforced concrete. Some of these materials, such as chloride-based deicers (i.e. rock salt) directly attack the concrete chemistry and, ultimately, the embedded reinforcing steel within the concrete. Other materials, such as calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) attack the cementitious matrix within the concrete mix. StructureCare therefore does not recommend or promote any specific deicers.
It is a formidable task to keep up with all of the new and reformulated products that enter the marketplace each year. Many are blends of different materials, much like the ubiquitous common cold remedies, each with specific attributes to address distinct symptoms or conditions.
Safety is important, so the use of deicers, particularly around pedestrian areas and the bottom of ramps, is a prudent choice.
In understanding this need we recommend the following:
- Select the most appropriate deicer for the conditions (some are more effective at low temperatures, some are more effective at slowing ice formation, etc.)
- Use the material sparingly
- Make sure to power wash the garage surfaces in the early spring
- The most expensive materials are not necessarily the best and certainly not a substitute for prudent snow and ice management
- Annual spring inspections by a parking garage professional to maintain and upkeep your structure after each winter season
StructureCare can help add guidance to the best winter and spring maintenance to maintain a safe parking structure. Please reach out to us with any questions.