Parking decks are unique structures subjected to some of the harshest conditions any building may ever face. By their very nature, parking decks are continually exposed to the elements and experience routine wear and tear from use. It is critical owners and operators of parking decks develop a routine maintenance program with a structural engineer that will allow them to:
Maintain the accessibility of the parking deck.
Increase the service life of the deck.
Provide a clean and safe area for their customers to park.
The Precast/Prestress Concrete Institute (PCI) has published a guide for owners and operators of parking decks titled, “Maintenance Manual for Precast Parking Structures”. While the manual focuses solely on precast concrete parking decks, it also contains useful information for owners/operators of conventional mild reinforced concrete and steel parking decks. The Manual details a maintenance program consisting of periodic housekeeping, preventative maintenance and structural repairs.
Parking Deck Maintenance
A standard housekeeping plan for all parking decks would involve, amongst other things:
- General cleaning to remove debris from the structure focusing on sensitive areas such as expansion and control joints.
- Pressure washing of floors to remove oils, de-icing salts, etc.
- Cleaning of signage and lighting.
A deck kept in a generally clean condition will be more appealing to customers and may help prevent structural issues.
A preventative maintenance program involves a periodic review and tune-up of all systems (electrical, architectural, mechanical and structural) in a parking deck. With regards to the structural systems, it is key to have a structural engineer conduct a structural observation. The observation should include, but not be limited to, visually reviewing all drainage and joint sealants, all floor members, all spandrel beams and all columns. Any areas showing signs of spall and delamination in the concrete, corrosion in exposed, bearing plates and other exposed steel are areas of concern that should be noted.
Any areas found to be structurally deficient in the preventative maintenance review should be repaired. The repairs should be designed and sealed by a professional engineer (PE) licensed in the state where the parking structure resides. Common areas in need of structural repairs are bearing regions (where beams bear on supporting members), connections between members, expansion joints and topping slabs.
A parking deck structure can last for many years. However, its longevity is highly dependent on how well the structure is maintained. Recent failures are parking facilities highlight the need for routine maintenance programs. The expense of properly maintaining a parking structure pales in comparison to the expense and risk to human life of a collapse.
For more information on parking deck maintenance or if you have questions pertaining to other projects requiring a strucutral engineer, click here!