Every day, millions of Americans walk to their cars past signs of decaying concrete in the parking structures that they use. For building owners, these wounds are a sign that it may be time to make repairs.

Parking garages are subject to a variety of stresses that wear on concrete over time. Along with seismic forces, concrete is weakened by years of water, de-icer salts, and other substances that vehicles carry in and leave behind. It’s important to know that while we’re talking about signs of concrete decay, that damage extends to the steel structure within.

Here are a few of the signs that repairs are needed to extend the life of a parking structure.

1. Leaking or ponding water

Leaking water is an early sign of damage but not one to be ignored. Water is the primary problem when it comes to structural damage.

Once water begins to infiltrate the concrete, you may see water leaking inside the parking structure. This might not appear very alarming, but if left unchecked this may result in some of the more alarming signs mentioned below. Ponding water is an indication that the structure may not be draining properly, and that needs to be addressed to prevent wear over time.

2. Rust staining

It’s hard to miss this symptom. Look along the “t” beams lining the ceiling of the structure and note any rust-colored stains. Rust staining is a sign that water has penetrated concrete and reacted with the reinforcing steel within.

This is dangerous because that corrosion leads to what we call “rust jacking.” When it corrodes, steel swells to several times its normal size. That swelling causes further structural damage to the concrete. If this isn’t addressed, you may arrive at the most visibly alarming sign of damage.

3. Exposed steel

Exposed rebar is ugly. Anybody who looks up and notices it will surely think, “That can’t be good.” It isn’t. This is a sign that water has penetrated the structure and corroded the steel, which has resulted in crumbling or spalling of the surrounding concrete. Things only get worse from here.

Uncovered steel is exposed to water and the elements, which results in more corrosion and swelling which results in more damage. If you own or manage a parking structure, exposed rebar is something that needs to be dealt with quickly.

Regular maintenance is the key to extending parking structure life

There are many ways that water can damage a parking structure over time. Damaged expansion joints can allow rainwater to penetrate the concrete. Exposed cracks in the concrete lead to water infiltration. These are just a couple of the ways that water can find its way into the structure.

JK Industries provides an array of different services for parking structure repair and maintenance. If you’re seeing the above signs of damage in your parking structure and would like to start developing a plan for your garage, contact us today.

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