With plow trucks entering and exiting, it's important to ensure expansion joints, speed bumps, and other hazards are still visible. - Photo courtesy of Western Specialty Contractors

With plow trucks entering and exiting, it's important to ensure expansion joints, speed bumps, and other hazards are still visible.

Photo courtesy of Western Specialty Contractors

When winter weather hits, government fleets go to work salting, plowing, and keeping roads open. But these operations may cause damage to the parking or maintenance facility where they are stored.

Western Specialty Contractors, which specializes in parking garage restoration and maintenance, offers several tips to minimize unnecessary damage to parking structures during the winter months, and keep drivers safe.

Snow Removal Tips

  • Clearly mark expansion joints in a way that will be visible to the equipment operator when the parking garage deck is covered with snow.
  • Establish a snow removal pattern so that the plow blade approaches expansion joints, control joints, and tee-to-tee joints at an angle no greater than 75 degrees.
  • Equip snowplow blades and bucket loaders with shoes or rubber guards that prevent direct contact with the deck surface.
  • Do not pile snow on the deck surface. Piles of snow can exceed the rated load capacity and cause cracking in the concrete deck surface.

Deicing/Salting Tips

Using chemical deicers to control ice and snow buildup is common. However, these chemicals can have a negative effect on concrete and reinforcing steel and should be used sparingly. There are several different types of deicers on the market that can be used, however, only those approved by the American Concrete Institute are recommended.

  • Sodium Chloride (road salt, table salt) – This is the most commonly used salt deicer. It has little effect on concrete but promotes corrosion in reinforcing steel and other metals. Use of this type of deicer is not recommended.
  • Calcium Chloride – This is a major ingredient in most commercial deicers. Like sodium chloride, it has little effect on concrete but promotes corrosion in reinforcing steel and other metals. Use of this type of deicer is not recommended.
  • Ammonium Nitrate or Ammonium Sulfate – Use of this deicer will lead to serious concrete deterioration due to its direct chemical attack on reinforcing steel. Use of this type of deicer is not recommended.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) – The effects of this deicer are similar to salt but CMA requires more time to melt ice. It has no adverse effects on concrete or steel reinforcement. If a deicer is required, a CMA is recommended.

It is important to minimize the amount of deicing chemical applied during the first two years of the concrete being installed. During this time, the concrete has an increased permeability which can allow the deicing chemicals to migrate into the concrete more rapidly. As concrete ages and cures, it will become less permeable and chemicals will not penetrate as easily.

It is important to remember that the use of deicing chemicals in general are not recommended. The safest way to remove ice and snow is to use a plow. Sand can also be used to increase tire traction but be sure to protect the drainage system when washing down the deck after its use.

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