TECH NOTES | No Place to Park
Recent headlines about parking deck failures have left us uneasy about the safety of our parking decks and other exposed building structures such as stadiums, dams, terraces, etc. Real estate for parking isscarce, so whether you are visiting the local mall, a city building or the doctor’s office, you will more often than not wind through the drive lanes of a parking deck.
A new parking deck is typically well planned, designed and constructed so that it will survive andperform for decades. Dedicated professionals in both design and construction worry about deck failure and strive to build safe and serviceable parking structures.
However, parking decks are among the most vulnerable facilities that we use. They have long spans between supports and are subject to dynamic loads, moisture and a wide range of fluctuating thermalconditions. Decks must endure ponding water, freezing and thawing, water penetration, de-icing chemicals, chloride penetration, and carbonation. Over time, these conditions can lead to significant deterioration, high repair costs, and possible safety issues.
The answer for a safe and serviceable deck is proactive inspection and maintenance. Frequent inspectionsby qualified maintenance staff are a must to identify potential problems. Visible signs of leakage, ponding water, corrosion, or spalled/cracked concrete are red flag concerns. Depending on the conditions discovered, a qualified professional may be needed for further evaluation and to develop prioritized repair drawings. A comprehensive inspection by a qualified professional should also be performed at maximum 5-year intervals to verify the integrity of the deck, structural components, and life safety systems.
Time will eventually cause all exposed structures to break down. Be prepared with a plan for aninspection/maintenance program. Be ready to implement the necessary repairs that will extend the life of the deck.
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