Parkades are an important aspect of many residential condominium buildings and can act as the foundation for these types of structures. Therefore, maintaining parkade areas is critical to ensure the safety and comfort of residents.
Underground Heated Parkades
Many condominiums have underground heated parkades with internal multi-level suspended concrete parking areas. Restoration of these parkades represents a major expenditure in the capital costs for condominiums. This is especially true for parkades, which have been neglected and not maintained for long periods of time.
During the winter months, in colder climates, deicing salt is used extensively on roadways. The composition of salt includes chloride ions. Salt-laden snow and ice are retained by cars, which enter into parkades. As soon as a vehicle enters into the parkade, the melting of the snow and ice begins. Initially, at the trench drain area, through the drive isles and finally at the parking stall areas where the greatest amount of melting occurs. Concrete is a porous material which all allows water to penetrate the reinforcing steel within it. After the melting process has occurred, the chloride-contaminated water reaches the reinforcing steel. The chloride acts as a catalyst, and an electrochemical reaction results in the development of corrosion. The reinforcing steel expands as it corrodes and eventually “pops” or spalls the concrete. If left unattended for prolonged periods of time, extensive growth of corroded areas can occur, resulting in the loss of serviceability of areas of the parkade. In some instances, the complete closure of parkades has to occur. In such instances, the reinforcing steel may have deteriorated to the degree that the integrity of the structure is compromised. At this point, a tremendous amount of disruption to tenants occurs, combined with high fees to repair the structure. Costs ranging from hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars are not uncommon in such instances. To avoid unexpected high restoration costs and major disruptions to tenants, it is recommended that parkade evaluations be conducted to determine the extent of concrete delaminations. Bi-annual evaluations are recommended after a major restoration of the parkade has been completed.
Parkade evaluations typically consist of an overall assessment of the parkade. A chain drag assessment is included where a chain is used to determine areas of delaminated or spalled concrete. The “popped” areas or top surface delaminated areas of concrete typically make a hollow sound as the chain passes over them. Similarly, areas of soffit (ceiling) delamination are identified by hammer-sounding suspect areas. Top surface and soffit delaminations are quantified and repaired during restorations.
Assessment of trench drains, leakage through walls and a condition review of the existing traffic deck coating systems are also conducted during a parkade evaluation. A common misconception is that once a parkade has been restored and after having a traffic deck coating system installed, that the parkade will not require repairs for several years. During a parkade restoration, areas of concrete, which have sounded with the hammer or chain, are repaired. However, areas where the corrosion process has not progressed to the point of sounding are not restored. These areas will continue to deteriorate and should be repaired at the point of sounding. Maintenance repairs of a parkade are recommended biannually after a major restoration has been undertaken. A parkade is a major investment, and its upkeep of it is a reality and a necessity.
During parkade restorations, improvements or additions to the parkade can be conducted in conjunction with the restoration. Examples of which are electrical or mechanical upgrades, re-painting of the parkade itself and/or the addition of drains to facilitate drainage.
Most underground heated parkades are situated beneath the existing buildings. Typically, the confines of the parkade extend beyond the perimeter of the building with landscaping or parking situated over the confines of the parkade below. These areas are referred to as the exterior plaza area. During the 1970s, two protective coatings used over these plaza areas were liquid rolled applied material and inter-mopped asphalt felt. As time progressed, these materials were found to deteriorated, resulting in water ingress into the parkade. Success has been achieved using epoxy or urethane injections into the soffit (ceiling) of the plaza deck. Success has been dependent on the product used, the skillset of the applicator and the severity of the water ingress.
There are instances where soffit injections cannot be conducted or may not be economically feasible due to the quantity required. In such circumstances, complete removal of the existing plaza landscaping and concrete topping are required. After concrete repairs are conducted to the plaza slab concrete, a new waterproofing membrane and new insulation are installed. The landscaping, new concrete topping or alternatives can then be installed. Success has been achieved with the use of multi-urethane injections. These injections are costly but have been proven to be effective in preventing water ingress into the parkade. Typically, multi-urethane injections are conducted in conjunction with plaza waterproofing replacements. Costs for the complete removal and replacement of the plaza waterproofing can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A consultant can then direct the condo board or strata corporation as to which method is best suited for the site.
Complete closure of a parkade during a restoration is sometimes required due to structural concerns. Also, there is a cost-benefit and a timesaving’s factor for allowing complete access to the parkade by the contractor. However, restoration can also be achieved by phasing parkade repairs. During the restoration, sections of the parkade are closed while allowing tenants to have access to other areas while the work is in progress. After each area is repaired, another section is closed, and the process repeats itself until all delaminations are repaired. The same process for the installation of the traffic decking system can be repeated. It is imperative to note that each parkade is unique, and there are instances where total closure of the parkade is necessary for brief periods to complete concrete repairs or to install small sections of traffic deck coating. However, this complete closure may be for a few days in comparison to a total shutdown for weeks or months.
Regardless of the concrete removal method used, dust and noise are a reality of restoration projects. Care can be taken to hoard these inconveniences in work areas; however, dust attributed to sandblasting will be present but to a lesser degree. Noise associated with hydro demolition is standard during restorations. With residential complexes, hours of noisy work are typically completed during typical business hours. On Saturdays, noisy periods of work can be conducted starting later in the morning until mid-afternoon. Typically it is recommended that no noisy work is completed on a Sunday.
Exterior Unheated Parkades
These structures experience similar concrete deterioration as those of heated parking garages. However, they do not experience the frequency of continual melting as do underground heated parkades. Evaluations can only be conducted during the spring, summer and fall months when temperatures permit for proper chain dragging to occur. Below certain temperatures, the hollow sound of delaminated concrete fails to be heard. Typically, such assessments can be conducted from April to October, weather permitting. Delamination repairs are also typically conducted from April to October when temperatures are conducive to allow the new concrete to cure and for the proper installation of the new traffic deck coating system.
Consultants & Contractors
The first step in beginning the restoration process is to retain a qualified consultant who can conduct the initial evaluation. From the evaluation, a budget and a project plan can be developed and provided to the respective board or strata as to how the restoration should proceed. A complete engineered specification with drawings is then competitively tendered to two or more reputable contractors. When the restoration is underway, the consultant conducts restoration site reviews and monitoring of the overall project. The vast majority of boards or strata corporations prefer the consultant to carry out the project from start to completion. Structural engineering is part of parkade restoration projects. Of course, the client is notified and kept abreast of the project at all times during the process. It is extremely important that a reputable contractor is chosen who has a track record of proven and reputable experience in parkade concrete restoration. Any prospective contractor should provide a list of previous restoration projects as well as references.
Suspended parking structures and exterior parking/plaza areas represent a major investment for any condominium complex. A concrete parking structure is prone to deterioration due to climatic changes and the conditions associated with these changes. Neglect of maintenance will amount to high costs for repairing the structure and potential disruptions for many stakeholders. Maintenance repairs and evaluations are a necessity to prolong the serviceability of the structure. Good guidance from a consultant and skilled workmanship from a contractor can protect these investments.