Treating Reinforcement Corrosion in Parking Structures

Mar 01, 2014

Why: Although parking garages are subject to more deterioration than other building types, their maintenance is typically not considered of primary importance to building owners or managers, who often are compelled to prioritize high-profile facade issues or roof leaks above a patch or two of unsightly concrete. Still, deferred maintenance eventually means costly repairs. One of the greatest issues related to the deterioration of parking structures is the corrosion of embedded reinforcement.

What: Ordinarily, surrounding concrete protects this embedded steel reinforcement bars (“rebars”) from the corrosive effects of water and dissolved salts in the environment. However, breaches in the concrete, whether due to cracks, flaws, thin coverage, or poor concrete composition, can allow steel reinforcement to come into prolonged contact with corrosive elements. As the steel corrodes, it expands, leading to further damage to the concrete, greater water infiltration, and additional corrosion in a self-perpetuating cycle of deterioration. If not arrested early on, the progressive nature of the cracking and corrosion can eventually lead to an unsafe structure.

How: This article presents preventative measures that building owners, managers, and designers can take to protect against the onset of this type of corrosion. It also outlines treatment options that can stop the cycle of damage and restore structural integrity to garages already exhibiting signs of corrosion, It offers design and construction practices that are central to the prevention of reinforcement corrosion, along with types of products and materials that help prevent corrosive elements from reaching embedded steel. Finally, it explains how creating favorable conditions that overcome corrosion-inducing electrochemical reactions can also be helpful.

Steven J. Susca, PE, Hoffmann Architects
Hoffmann Architects Journal
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Hoffmann Architects

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