The Importance of Garage Maintenance in Buildings

Commercial and residential parking garages play a major role in the integrity of the entire building – which makes garage maintenance critical. Garages are complex structures with different components contributing to the garage’s integrity both from a structural and functional standpoint. Things like water management are extremely important to the life expectancy of concrete and asphalt surfaces, which means they need ongoing inspection and maintenance.

Here we look at the critical components every building owner should manage as part of garage maintenance to avoid serious damage and prevent the risk of deterioration and collapse.

Parking Garage Slabs & Waterproofing

The garage slab comes in many different forms. The most common is the “slab-on-grade” built directly on the ground as the lowest level of a garage design. These slabs do not require waterproofing as they are protected from the elements.

Larger garages with multiple levels then have suspended slabs installed above the ground level, which require reinforcement as well as waterproofing to protect the garage levels below.

There are also roof or deck slabs, which are the top levels. These levels are also suspended but completely exposed, which means they also need waterproofing. Garages typically, but not always, include elements such as sidewalks and curbs that must also be maintained.

Components of a Parking Garage

Along with the slab, your garage also has two major components:

1. Load-bearing elements: Columns and beams are used to support the massive load of vehicles stored in the garage. These load-bearing elements are an integral part of the foundation and footing.

2. Movement management: Thermal movement that occurs in garages must be managed with expansion joints.

These elements are vulnerable to leaks. Therefore, they require ongoing inspection and repairs to maintain their integrity.

Garage Draining & Waterproofing

The garage components that play a more functional role are designed to contend with water damage. The process used to manage water depends on the garage surface.

Asphalt uses mastic waterproofing as a water-resistive barrier, while concrete depends on elastomeric waterproofing. These materials protect the surfaces themselves. Overall water management then depends on drains placed at the lowest points to reduce the risk of water pooling. Water pooling contributes to corrosion and damage of garage slabs.

How Garage Damage Occurs

Water is the main culprit contributing to garage damage. When water penetrates aging waterproofing layers, it leads to several issues.

Chloride and carbonation contamination are the most common causes of concrete damage. Chloride contamination is caused by salt in water run off which penetrates aging waterproof layers and corrodes the slab’s steel reinforcements.

The same corrosion occurs when carbonation contamination decreases pH levels in concrete. Contamination de-bonds the waterproof layer, which leads to delamination as the contaminated water reaches and corrodes the bars below.

Common garage restoration includes concrete restoration, expansion joint replacement, and waterproofing. It is always far more cost-effective to inspect your garage to identify leaks and cracks and make repairs to extend the life of the concrete.

If you would like more information about garage maintenance and restoration, speak to the experts at WellDone Inc. a building restoration company specializing in building improvements for commercial and multi-unit residential buildings throughout the GTA.