Proper removal of snow from a parking garage is usually the first thing on the owner’s mind after a snowstorm to the allow the garage’s top deck to become operational again. However, some owners may not realize that improper removal of the snow could jeopardize their structure, particularly if all the snow is stored on a single location on the top deck. Most buildings within the surrounding area are designed to withstand a code-prescribed snow load of approximately 30 pounds per square foot (psf). However, stacking large amounts of wet, melting snow in a concentrated area can cause loads double or triple the design load to be applied to the structure, risking its structural integrity and, in the worst case scenarios, leading to failure.
There are several more building-friendly ways to remove this snow and get the parking open again. One way to remove the snow would be close the top deck to vehicular traffic until the snow melts; however, given the amount of snow and conditions following the storm, this could take several days. De-icing salts could be used to accelerate the melting of the snow, but if the slab has never received a protective coating, the chloride-heavy melted snow could penetrate into the slab and accelerate deterioration of the steel reinforcement within the slab. If the owner chooses to remove snow off of the top deck through use of shovels and plows, special equipment may need to be used to ensure any coatings on top of the slab are not damaged. Ultimately, the best way to remove snow following a storm depends on the needs and composition of your specific structure.