A great way to provide plenty of parking in an area that may not be able to support an expansive parking lot, parking structures such as parking garages are popular for medical facilities, office and apartment complexes, and other places as well. Yet while they may look indestructible, parking structures actually need routine inspections to make sure they stay safe. To gain a better understanding of why these inspections are necessary, here are four of the top reasons.
1- Stress on Structural Beams and Columns
Usually, the most prominent fixtures in any parking structure, structural beams, and columns are literally what holds the structure together and prevent it from collapsing. However, since beams and columns have so much stress placed on them 24/7, they are constantly exposed to the elements and thus can begin to experience a variety of problems as they age. These can include cracking concrete and corroding steel, both of which are usually caused by water that has entered the beams and columns through cracks. If these are not inspected at least once annually, catastrophic results could occur.
2- Joint Sealant Inspection
Another aspect of proper parking structure inspections involves expansion joints and making sure the joints are not beginning to fail due to water damage. If these are inspected and appear to be pulling away and losing cohesion, it’s likely water is entering the joints. Due to their importance in the structural integrity of the parking structure, inspecting and renewing joints on an annual basis is a must to keep your parking structure safe.
3- Horizontal and Overhead Areas
Sometimes overlooked during routine inspections because they are flat and not directly in the line of sight, horizontal and overhead areas nevertheless should be carefully inspected for signs of damage. Since these surfaces also suffer wear and tear over time, they should be examined by looking them up and down to see if any cracks or other damage is present. It’s also important to remember that these areas have traffic coatings and joint sealants applied to them that can wear out over time, so renewing these coatings and sealants is a good part of a preventive maintenance plan.
4- Exposure to Chemicals
If your parking structure is located in an area where winter weather is a regular occurrence each year, it is very likely the concrete and metal parts of your structure are being exposed to various types of chemicals that can eventually lead to column, beam, and surface damage. When vehicles drive through the parking structure in the winter, they are essentially spreading chloride from road salt and other chemicals throughout the parking areas. As this happens, chloride can accumulate and lead to severe rust and corrosion of steel beams. Should you notice concrete spalling or discoloration, maintenance should be performed as soon as possible on the structure.
Even if you think your parking structure is sound from an engineering standpoint, routine inspections can often discover problems that might be overlooked. By taking a closer look at beams, joints, and other areas, your parking structure can stay safe and sound.