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We talk about chloride contamination frequently because of the damage it can do to concrete that isn’t properly maintained.
Chloride contamination comes from rock salt, the primary deicing agent used in Wisconsin. Rock salt is the mineral formed from sodium chloride. WisDOT uses an average of 526,000 tons of rock salt statewide each season. Other chloride-based deicers used less frequently are calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. All chloride deicers will initiate corrosion of the steel reinforcement if they penetrate the concrete.
Implications for Parking Garages
A major contributor to parking garage deterioration is corrosion of embedded steel. The corrosion problem is not new, but awareness of the problem has been getting more attention in recent years.
As steel corrodes it expands, causing fragments of concrete to chip away, which exposes steel further, leading to even more damage. In addition, the rebar becomes more easily breakable, which in turn reduces the garage’s structural capacity. Unfortunately, by the time the damage is discovered, the corrosion of the steel is usually quite advanced.
To put it more scientifically, “There are two consequences of the corrosion of steel. First the products of corrosion occupy a volume several times larger than the original steel so that their formation results in cracking…This makes it easier for aggressive agents to ingress towards the steel, with a consequent increase in the rate of corrosion. Second, the progress of corrosion…reduces the cross-sectional area of the steel, thus reducing its load-carrying capacity.”
Reducing Chloride Contamination
There are a number of ways to lessen concrete deterioration due to chloride contamination and reduce its influence on the service life of your facility. Some, such as adding corrosion inhibiting compounds, need to be implemented during construction. For an existing structure, protection is your best option.
In a 2018 paper published by engineers at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, the authors recommend the use of a penetrating solution as one option. They say, “Another method to protect concrete from deicing/anti-icing chemicals is the application of topical treatments such as penetrating sealers. Penetrating sealers can seal the concrete, hence reduce the ingress of water and chemicals.”
In the spring, when the ice and snow have melted, many property owners will be greeted by the sight of blemished concrete where the surface has flaked off. As bad as that is, the unseen damage to the steel reinforcement has also likely begun and may not be noticed until it’s become expensive to repair. Before that happens, consider applying a waterproof barrier to your concrete structure.
We’ve worked in a lot of parking structures during our 49 years in business, some as small as 5,000 sq ft and others larger than 1M sq ft. Whether yours is a parking garage, a parking ramp, or a parking lot; it is a significant part of your real estate portfolio and requires both routine and preventative maintenance to maintain its value.
As an owner or manager of a parking structure, you’re well acquainted with the damage that naturally occurs over time. Potholes, cracks in the concrete, and corrosion are bound to appear: but their presence can be minimized, and sometimes almost eliminated, with regularly scheduled maintenance.
Your parking structure is the workhorse of your business and often the first point of welcome for you customers. It experiences direct exposure to vehicle traffic, weather, chemicals, and grease on a daily basis. It only takes a few missed deep-cleans for minor deterioration to start. These can turn into problems beneath the surface of the concrete before you know it.
An effective maintenance plan should include all the periodic tasks that are required for smooth day-to-day operation, as well as the tasks performed to avoid future repairs and protect the owner’s investment.
Sweeping and Washing
Your garage needs frequent sweeping — at least monthly — and quarterly pressure washing to remove sand, dirt, and other substances that wear down its concrete surface. Because of human nature, a clean garage is more likely to stay that way because people are less likely to litter in a well-maintained environment. In addition to extending the life of the facility, a clean, well-kept garage is inviting and gives you a good reputation.
In Wisconsin, it’s especially important to schedule a pressure washing in the early spring to remove deicing products and again in the fall to remove leaves and make sure the drainage system is clear.
Pavement Marking and Signage
Your maintenance schedule should include attention paid to pavement markings and signage. Parking lot striping needs to be restored as soon as it begins to fade or wear away. Concrete walks, drives, and curb landings might need to be repainted as often as twice a year for safety purposes.
The main enemies of the structural integrity of your parking structure are water penetration, chloride penetration, and freeze/thaw damage. The best way to prevent the damage is to prevent penetration into the concrete with a waterproofing barrier. Waterproofing systems that protect the concrete surface extend the life of a garage and make routine maintenance tasks easier to complete.
The ideal waterproofing system uses a calcium silicate gel to penetrate the concrete and fill cracks, pores, and capillaries; forming a subsurface barrier that can’t be peeled, chipped, or scraped away.
A regular maintenance program is critical to preserving your garage and providing excellent service to your customers. Call us to talk about a schedule that perfectly meets your needs. (414) 771-0884
Water is the enemy of your parking structure. It can penetrate the concrete causing costly damage to its steel reinforcement. Considering the large capital investment parking structures require, it’s worth taking some time to consider how best to protect them, not only from water, but also from deicing agents and freeze/thaw cycles.
We believe that the best way to prevent concrete damage is to prevent water and chemical penetration in the first place through the use of a waterproof barrier. Membranes and silane sealant do provide some protection but have drawbacks that waterproofing does not.
For that reason, we recently partnered with Alchemco, manufacturers of the TechCrete 2500 Waterproofing system—a long-term solution that creates a waterproof barrier inside the concrete.
TechCrete 2500 offers the following benefits:
It has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are “any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions.” In other words, emitted gases from certain solids and liquids. Because TechCrete 2500 is VOC-free, if the concrete structure is ever demolished, the concrete remains recyclable, which is good for the environment.
It is a penetrating solution that forms a calcium silicate gel which fills cracks and capillaries up to 2mm wide. Because it forms a subsurface barrier, it can’t be chipped or scraped away by snow plow blades and it will continue to seal future cracks up to .04mm wide.
There’s no need to close your parking facility during business hours in order to complete the installation.
One of the best features of TechCrete 2500 is its longevity. It makes the concrete surface more dense which allows it to stand up to traffic from people and cars. It also has the best warranty in the industry ranging from 15-30 years depending on the current condition of the structure.
A TechCrete 2500 treated surface is easy and inexpensive to maintain, requiring only regular sweeping and a yearly pressure wash.
Parking areas are a large capital investment. The longer they last, the greater the return on your investment. While the value of regular cleaning and maintenance can’t be overstated, the best protection comes from not allowing the water to penetrate the concrete in the first place. Read more about our concrete waterproofing service here.
January through March
April through June
July through September
October through December
- Trash and debris removal
- Concrete floor cleaning, polishing — and sealing if necessary
- Removal of oil, dirt, mineral residue, and paint from masonry
- Washing of walkways, entries, driveways, and parking areas
- Exterior building cleaning
- General pavement cleaning
The importance of concrete can’t be overstated. It is the most widely used man-made material on the planet.
A recent blog post by Bill Gates is titled, “Have You Hugged a Concrete Pillar Today?” He quotes Vaclav Smill who “argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. It is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990.”
What is Concrete?
According to the University of Illinois Department of Materials Science and Engineering, concrete is a composite material which is made up of a filler and a binder. The binder (cement paste) “glues” the filler together to form a synthetic conglomerate. The constituents used for the binder are cement and water, while the filler can be fine or coarse aggregate… It is important to distinguish between cement and concrete as they are not the same.”
Cement is not used on its own. When it’s mixed with fine filler you get mortar for masonry. When it’s mixed with coarse sand and gravel you get concrete. Another key piece of the equation is water. The amount of water you use determines the strength of the aggregate. “Low water to cement ratio leads to high strength but low workability. High water to cement ratio leads to low strength, but good workability.” It can be further strengthened by adding rebar – reinforcing steel bars.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Concrete is strong enough to bear the heavy load of a skyscraper without compressing. It can resist the pressure of water behind a dam. It can support thousands of cars, trucks, and busses on a bridge. There is a reason that concrete structures from the Roman Empire still exist.
Concrete can also deteriorate. In places like Wisconsin, where the temperatures drop below freezing every year, water from snow and rain can penetrate its surface. The water expands about 9% in volume as it freezes. When it melts during warmer weather it causes the material to weaken over time. Concrete also deteriorates when exposed to certain chemicals such as acids which are present in spills, or salts and alkalis which are used to treat driving surfaces in winter.
At Wahlen Works, we know concrete. We understand it’s properties and we know how to preserve it. The surface needs regular washing to remove acids, salts, and alkalis. It needs to be sealed once every five years or so. We are ready to bring our expertise to your unique property challenges and save you money over the long-term.
- The first concrete street in America was built in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1891.
- The heaviest concrete structure in the world today is the Three Gorges Dam in China, which opened in 2003. It weighs 144,309,356,753.51 pounds.
- In 1819, the first known parking garage was built for the Hotel La Salle in Chicago.
- The Pantheon in Rome has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
- In the modern world, only water is used more than concrete.
Spring has officially arrived! One of the first things we recommend you do is go outside and take a look at your parking structures and garages. Are they gray and dusty? Is there an unpleasant accumulation of sand and salt? Have the markings on the pavement faded? Has trash been blown into the corners? If so it’s time for spring cleaning. If the debris and chemicals and sand aren’t disposed of properly, you risk damaged concrete and clogged drains.
Your concrete needs regular cleaning and preventative maintenance to prolong the life of the surface and save money on expensive repairs. But it especially needs a deep clean after one of our long midwestern winters. Located in the middle of the “Winter Facts” page on the Wisconsin DOT website is a list of some the materials they use to treat roads for snow and ice: calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, salt brine. Property owners should remove and dispose of pollutants properly for structural preservation. This maintenance also maintains an aesthetically pleasing appearance and prevents environmental damage. Engaging in prompt clean-up will also reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians who might slip on accumulated dry sand.
Spring Cleaning List
The spring cleaning list for parking structures and garages includes:
- A thorough sweeping to remove trash, sand, salt, and any leftover leaves from last fall.
- Pre-treating stains from oil spills, beverage spills, and other dirt deposits.
- Professional power washing with a high pressure nozzle to deep clean the paved surface and lift out all of the dirt.
- Re-marking of faded parking stall lines, pedestrian walkways, and directional arrows.
- Concrete sealing to protect your surfaces from water, chemicals, and traffic wear-and-tear.
Once each of the items above is checked off, it’s time to think about ongoing maintenance. Some facilities, such as hospitals, have a high volume of traffic and high turnover in the parking areas. Dirt and debris accumulate much faster than in a structure, such as an apartment, that doesn’t see as many vehicles entering and exiting. A high volume facility may require monthly sweeping while a low volume facility may only need two to three maintenance sweeps a year.
Spring Cleaning Service Package
Spring is a great time to consider a complete service package for your property. Service packages include sweeping, power washing, pavement striping, concrete sealing, and ongoing maintenance. This type of package offers the greatest value to the business owner. At Wahlen Works the cost is significantly less than if the services were purchased separately. We can create contracts for time periods between one to five years so that you can plan and budget accordingly. Longer term contracts lock in current pricing and save the headache of having to address the same issue year after year.
Don’t hire a novice. Our knowledge of equipment, processes, and chemicals will ensure that your parking facility maintains a clean, professional appearance at all times. We provide our services on your schedule so that your business isn’t disrupted and we guarantee outstanding results. Contact us today to schedule an appointment that fits with your schedule. https://www.wahlenworks.com/estimate/
If you’re a Milwaukee commercial property owner, a parking lot with freshly painted, clearly marked lines is almost as good as the smell of a brand new automobile. But that freshly painted look is hard to remember after a long winter of snow and snowplows, when your pavement striping is as faded as a ten-year old car. In addition to the pleasure of a new-looking lot, your customers’ convenience and safety depend on the clarity and visibility that a professionally striped parking lot provides.
So how do you get that “new car feel” for your old parking lot?
First, you want to ask yourself a few questions. “Does the traffic flow make sense to my visitors?” “Is the space used as efficiently as it could be? Am I compliant with all applicable regulations?” “Do I have enough upright signage for stopping, yielding, and pedestrian crossing?” “Can pedestrian walkways be clearly seen?” If the answer to any of the above questions is no, it’s time to restore your parking lot pavement to it’s original showroom look.
Fresh pavement striping will provide you with clearly marked parking stalls and bright, durable marking. This means professional quality, crisp lines measured precisely and painted to the required thickness. It includes pedestrian walking spaces, directional driving arrows, entrance and exit signs, handicapped parking spaces, loading and unloading areas, and unmistakable fire lane areas. In some instances, such as handicapped spaces and fire lanes, there must also be both marking on the pavement and on upright signs.
Whether it is brand new asphalt, freshly seal coated concrete, or existing lines that need to be re-painted, we do it all. We have the equipment and personnel to complete the work in your off hours so we do not interrupt your operations. Restoring your Milwaukee parking lot to it’s original shine has never been easier.
For a complete parking lot remodel, ask about including our power washing and concrete sealing services along with your pavement striping job. You’ll be proud of your property once again.