Five Ways to Preserve your Parking Garage

Major repairs on parking garages cause several issues for property managers. Disrupting tenants, unexpected costs, and safety concerns are just some of the challenges to deal with. So, how do we avoid these unwanted headaches? Below are five key indicators that your garage could use preventative maintenance, so you can avoid major repairs.

Signs of Water Leakage

Leaking water is a clear sign that your parking garage is in need of a tune-up. The longer it is left unattended, the more expensive the consequences become. Two indicators that water leakage is occurring are: exposed metals rusting and rust stains along the walls.


Water and parking garages just do not mix well, so sitting water is obviously not something you want present in your garage. A simple drain installation or surface overlay will prevent future, larger problems.

parking garage 2

Failed expansion joints provide another avenue for water to penetrate and reach the reinforcing steel and “T” to “T” connector plates. Repairing expansion joints is much simpler than resolving issues created by corroded reinforcing steel and connector plates. Detecting expansion joint problems and reacting quickly will be very beneficial in the long run.

Delaminated, Spalled, Horizontally Cracked, and Vertically Cracked Concrete

Concrete is bound to crack at some point. Delaminated or spalled concrete is when a piece of concrete detaches from the structure. Along with delaminating and spalling, vertical and horizontal cracks in the concrete also represent threatening areas of weakness. These issues are problematic as they can lead to structural damage because they allow water to reach the garage's reinforcing steel.

parking garage 3

Exposed Rebar (Reinforcing Steel)

If you can see rebar, you have a problem that deserves swift attention. When rebar is introduced to water, it corrodes and expands up to eight times its original size. This undesirable introduction usually is the result of a crack in the concrete that allows water to travel through and reach the rebar. The force of the expanding rebar causes more damage to the concrete around, which creates greater access for water and more corrosion. It is imperative to stop this compounding cycle as soon as possible.

Essentially, the goal is to keep water away from the parking garage's reinforcing steel. The damaging and compounding cycle never gets better on its own, and the longer these warning signs are ignored, the more serious and costly the repairs become.

Recent strides in technology have provided Western with effective new ways to extend the life of parking structures. These advances include conventional means, including better coatings and sealants, as well as all new methods of handling challenging concrete repairs.

Here is a list of concrete restoration services that Western Specialty Contractors can perform:

  • Concrete Repair/Replacement
  • Structural Repairs
  • Expansion Joint Installation/Replacement
  • Clear Sealer Application
  • Deck Coating Installation
  • Post Tension Repair (Strand & Button-head systems)
  • Epoxy Injection
  • Chemical Grout Injection
  • FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer Systems)
  • Cathodic Protection
  • Shotcrete (Spray Applied Concrete)

Iconic Eads Bridge | Mississippi River | St. Louis, MO

The iconic Eads Bridge crossing the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois was the first steel structure bridge of its kind in the United States when it was designed by James B. Eads and opened on July 4, 1874. A significant engineering feat for its time, the historic bridge was in desperate need of rehabilitation from decades of use, repairs, and environmental exposure.

In May 2012, the Bi-State Development Agency/Metro (BSDA/Metro) launched a monumental Eads Bridge Rehabilitation project, largely funded through $34 million in federal support, which includes $25 million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. All phases of the project are scheduled to be completed in 2016 and are expected to extend the life of the bridge by 50 years. The top deck of the bridge which supports vehicle and pedestrian travel is owned by the City of St. Louis. BSDA/Metro owns the superstructure and the lower deck which is the rail deck that supports the region’s MetroLink light rail system.

Photo from Bi-State Development 2

The multi-faceted restoration project includes:

  • Replacement of support steel dating from the 1880’s.
  • Refinishing and repainting the bridge’s superstructure using a rust-inhibiting coating.
  • Upgrading the MetroLink light rail system.
  • Restoring the brick archways under the bridge that support its foundation.

St. Louis Bridge Company, a large bridge company working throughout the Midwest, hired Western Specialty Contractors – St. Louis Masonry Restoration Branch,  as a subcontractor on the project due to Western’s past expertise in bridgework.

Beginning repairs (5)
Beginning repairs (3)

Western’s scope of work focused on restoring the bridge’s brick archway supports on the Missouri side, which is located about 100 yards from the waterfront and allows roadway traffic under the bridge.

Western’s scope of work included:

  • Demo of all concrete patching on the brick archways.
  • Removal and replacement of all damaged bricks.
  • Tuckpointing of all deteriorated mortar joints.

We were contracted to remove and replace 1,256 square feet of bricks and tuckpoint 1,256 square feet of mortar joints. We ended up removing 1,824 square feet of bricks and tuckpointing 469 square feet of bricks,” said Western Department Manager Rick Kerperien.

Repairs on 12-16 feet side walls (2)
Finished project (2)

Challenges and Solutions:

One of the challenges that Western’s crews faced on the project included installing bricks in the overhead arches, which reach 30 feet high at their centers. Western found an innovative solution to the vertical challenge.

Ceiling repair (2)
Ceiling repir (1)

We overcame that obstacle by cutting wood strips and anchoring them to the arch ceilings which would hold the new bricks securely in place while being installed. Once the bricks cured, we would remove the wood strips and fill in the holes where necessary,” Kerperien said.

Western crews also had to bring in water for mixing the mortar and cleaning and used generators for electricity on the project. Western’s phase of the project was completed in four months.