What are safe snow removal practices for parking structures?*

4 years ago by in Asset Management

Piling snow on top of a parking facility can cause significant structural damage, as well as contribute to serious maintenance concerns. The following are some best practices for managing snow removal operations for a parking facility:

  • DO NOT pile snow on top of the garage. If snow is piled, it can exceed the live load capacity of the structure. This will create potential structural failure, or even collapse. Contact us to verify the acceptable depth of snow within your facility.- Use a portable snow melt, or haul the snow out of the garage. Dumping the snow over the side of the garage is acceptable when done safely. However, be sure to make provisions to prevent snow from falling into the garage. Additionally, it is important to fence the dumping zone, as well as provide signage to notify pedestrians of potential falling snow.
  • If using a snowplow, with a heavy rubber cutting edge attached to the bottom, or with shoes designed to keep the steel blade from contacting the concrete floor surface. Keep the steel blade one-half inch above the floor surface to avoid damage to concrete, expansion joint systems, joint sealants and traffic topping systems. Plowing should be done away from joints, not across them.
  • The snow removal contractor must be aware of the locations of expansion joints and curbs. This can be achieved by adding signage and flexible bollards that will notify the snow plow driver of the locations of expansion joints and curbs. The plow should be raised at the expansion joints to prevent damage.
  • Off-peak snow removal operation may be required to deal with heavy snowfalls effectively and safely.
  • Prohibit vehicles with studded snow tires and tire chains, as these can cause damage to concrete, expansion joint systems, and traffic looping systems.
  • Continually evaluate entry/exit lanes and the top level, as they are vulnerable to icing when water drains from sun-warmed surfaces into shaded areas. Standing water in these areas can create slip-and-fall hazards, as well as contribute to deterioration of concrete.


Recommended Use of Deicing Agents:

All deicing compounds, including road salt, do not work in extremely cold temperatures. Sand can be broadcast over icy surfaces to improve traction when deicing agents are ineffective. The use of sand may require additional sweeping and cleaning maintenance.

Minimize the use of deicing chemicals during the first two years of concrete curing. Properly designed, air-entrained and cured concrete is required to provide a durable concrete structural system, but concrete curing is an ongoing process. During this initial two-year time period, it is recommend to follow method 1 & 6 only as noted below.

After the first two years of concrete curing, deicing agents may be used as indicated below. There are also anti-icing agents such as Potassium Acetate available on the market which may be utilized in preparation for an upcoming snow/ice event. Anti-icing agents will prevent adhesion of snow/ice to concrete.

Recommended deicing measures, in order of decreasing preference, are:

  1. Clean, plow, scrape off ice and snow. Use no deicing agents.
  2. Sodium Acetate (NAAC).
  3. Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA).
  4. Potassium Acetate (KAC).
  5. Prilled Urea (granular, chemically coated with a derivative of formaldehyde).
  6. Use sand to increase traction. When washing down, place burlap or stray filters over floor drains to keep sand out of drainage systems.
  7. Never use Ammonium Nitrate, Ammonium Sulfate, Calcium Chloride or Sodium Chloride.
* Federal, State, and Local codes govern most of these requirements and should be thoroughly investigated. Data presented herein should be considered guidelines only. For more specific information, please contact TimHaahs via email at info@TimHaahs.com