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Structure’s Best Defense


ing the overhead concrete to spall, creating potential safety haz- ards and structural deficiencies. Also, water ponding within a parking structure can occur as


a result of clogged or improperly installed drains, as well as a lack of positive drainage slopes. Ponding on concrete floors can lead to slipping hazards, particularly during winter months due to freezing. It also may lead to the significant deterioration of the concrete. Although water infiltration and ponding will lead to signifi-


cant deterioration if not properly prevented, it is simple to avoid them. For example, the application of a traffic deck coating will prevent the penetration of water and chloride ions. Coatings and sealers used to preserve the concrete in park-


ing structures should be effective at reducing water absorption, protecting from chloride penetration, and resisting ultraviolet exposure. In general, coatings reduce water absorptionmore effective-


ly than sealers. Therefore, it is extremely important to utilize coatings on parking floors particularly if they are located above offices or commercial space. In addition, in the event these coat- ings are damaged, they must be repaired immediately to prevent leaking and contamination. If not, the integrity of the systems, as well as the concrete, will be in jeopardy. Regardless of which product is appropriate, the owners


shouldmake sure it is reapplied aminimumof every three to five years for sealers and five to seven years for coatings. This will help tomaintain the quality of the facility, while helping to avoid serious and potentially dangerous issues in the future. Another area which is extremely important to protect from


water infiltration within a parking structure is the expansion joints. These components cut through the structures, and allow formovements as a result of concrete expansion and contraction, due to temperature fluctuations. Unless these joints are properly designed, installed and observed on a regular basis, leaking can develop and accelerate the deterioration of the structure. Owners should reseal expansion joints every seven to 10


years, depending on their structural design, geographic location, and typical wear and tear. However, it is important to monitor these areas consistently, as localized repairs are commonly


required before their replacement, to prevent water infiltration and deterioration. Although a qualified structural engineer is the best person to


identify these issues at the repair/replacement stage, owners and staff have the greatest responsibility to monitor the structure throughout routine/preventivemaintenance. The life of any parking structure is dependent upon the care


it receives from its very beginning. From visual inspections dur- ingwash-downs or rainfalls to identify leaks, to amonthly review of all joints, a proactive commitment to establishing a mainte- nance program is the best way to ensure the long and useful life of these important assets.


Kevin Carrigan, P.E., CAPP, is Director of Engineering for Timothy Haahs & Associates. Contact him at kcarrigan@timhaahs.com.


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