A proactive approach to maintenance in inclement weather is always recommended. We recommend a written policy that is communicated to all staff, and reiterated in the event of a weather event. This plan should include both mandatory and recommended strategies, which may include the strategies discussed below.
Communicate with patrons as appropriate to convey potential impacts as well as recommendations for when and how to safely park.
Snow removal may be required due to parking demands as well as weather conditions that create significant buildup of heavy saturated snow. There are three main options regarding snow removal. These include the use of a portable snow melt machine, hauling the snow out of the garage or dumping the snow at a properly designed snow dump zone. A structural engineer should be consulted to assure that the selected snow removal option does not exceed the capacity of the structure.
Snow is normally plowed downhill using a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating not more than 8,000 pounds. The snowplow blade should be modified with a heavy rubber or polyurethane cutting edge attached to the bottom and with tires designed to keep the blade from contacting the concrete floor surface. Keep the 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 plow operator must be familiar with the structure and the elements that are susceptible to damage. Permanent or temporary signs are recommended at critical locations, such as the expansion joints, to notify the snow plow operation to take caution. The plow should be raised at the expansion joints to prevent damage.
Snow dump zones are the most common snow removal option. Snow is plowed to specific locations within the facility that have been designed to pile snow adjacent to the snow dump zone. A “Bobcat” or industrial snow blower can be used to throw/dump the snow over the side. Take care with a “Bobcat” or snow blower to avoid damage to concrete panels, connection hardware and expansion joints. Dumping the snow over the side of the garage is acceptable if it is done safely and provisions are made to prevent snow from falling into the garage. The dumping zone should be fenced off and able to drain freely when the snow melts.
DO NOT pile snow within the garage unless the structure has been designed for this type of loading. If snow is piled and then becomes saturated, the load capacity of the structure can be exceeded, creating a potential structural failure or collapse. Contact us or the structural engineer of record of your parking facility to verify the acceptable depth of snow within your facility.
Off-peak snow removal operation may be required to deal with heavy snowfalls effectively and safely.
Snow can also be quickly brushed away with a rotary broom mounted in front of a utility vehicle. Clearing snow with a rotary broom is typically efficient only for light snowfalls. Steel or other metallic bristles on rotary brooms can damage traffic topping and must not be used under any circumstances.
Studded snow tires and tire chains cause damage to concrete and traffic topping and should be prohibited.
All deicing compounds, including road salt, do not work in extremely cold temperatures. Ice buildup can be controlled by using hot sand or a mixture of sand and approved deicing agents. Do not apply deicing chemicals containing chloride directly to the concrete unless extreme ice conditions exist. Drain systems should be protected against runoff-related sand accumulation during ice control operations. Use temporary burlap or straw filters to prevent drain clogging and possible damage to drain systems. The use of sand requires 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.
The slope of the floors is designed to drain surface water as quickly as possible. Continually evaluate entry/exit lanes, the top level and ice-prone areas at the covered levels of the garage, 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. Be aware of these areas and control icing as it occurs.
Most common chemical deicers can have major chemical and physical effects on reinforced concrete systems. Several deicers are listed below with a general description of the common effects on materials typically found in and around a parking facility. Although a deicer may affect one type of material (such as metals and steel reinforcing, or steel connections), and have little effect on other materials (such as concrete), the effect on the single material may progressively affect the entire reinforced concrete system. When such deicers, in solution with water, reach steel via cracks, serious deterioration of structural components can result.
The following summarizes common deicing agents:
Recommended deicing measures, in order of decreasing preference, are: