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Requirements Differ for Parking Lot Sweeping and Parking Garage Maintenance

Parking lots and parking garages have similar requirements regarding maintenance including parking lot sweeping, but there are some vital differences of which owners and managers should be aware when contracting out maintenance work.

There are Structural Differences Between Parking Garages and Parking Lots

Parking lots usually encompass only one level even if, at times, they may have lower and/or higher sections connected via ramps. Parking garages are multi-level and may have many different configurations:

  • Walls (which may need frequent painting and touch-ups)
  • Open Sides
  • Location under building or with buried levels
  • Connecting footbridges or walkways on multiple levels
  • Air circulation and ventilation systems, and heating and/or cooling systems
  • Complex ramp systems
  • Elevators and stairwells
  • Innovative self-parking configurations

One of the most significant differences is in the construction materials used. Most parking garages use steel-reinforced concrete decks, while most parking lots are primarily asphalt and often incorporate concrete in walkways, drainage, curbs, dividing walls, etc.
Either type may use brick, blocks, stone, or other additional materials. Parking garages often include steel I-Beam construction in deck support, or concrete and “rebar” (reinforcing bar).

There are Structural Similarities Between Parking Garages And Parking Lots

Both parking garages and parking lots include similar structural features:

  • Lighting
  • Drainage control
  • Signage
  • Paint striping
  • Parking meter or parking admission measures
  • Steel or concrete bumpers, guards, and barriers
  • Walkways
  • Gates
  • Fencing or walls
  • Security surveillance systems

Check out the Differences Even in the Similarities

Maintenance concerns for many similar features will differ. For example, the type, number, and placement of security cameras, lighting, drainage control, and many other common concerns are made less common because of the differences between an indoor, multi-level versus an outdoor, single-level application.

Be Aware of the Special Concerns for Cleaning Parking Garages

Cleaning parking garages might appear to be a simpler task than for parking lots since parking indoors means protection from the elements. Yet, in fact, there is actually a greater need to assure frequent cleaning, power washing, and structural inspections of parking garages than lots:

  1. The more enclosed the space, the more likely it is that pollutants and toxins from exhaust, leaks, and other sources will accumulate and become concentrated. There are often high levels of heavy metals in the particulates deposited in parking garages.
  2. The air inside parking garages is often quite dry and very dusty, which creates not only a cleaning issue but a health hazard.
  3. Road salt and other de-icing chemicals are tracked into the parking garage by cars and accumulate on the parking and driving surfaces, and may also be transferred to walkways and other areas. These chemicals promote the deterioration of moisture membranes, the concrete and the rebar, which reduces the life of the structure itself.

While parking lots are also exposed to these chemicals, rain and melting snow help dilute them. Also, since most lots are constructed of asphalt, they do not contain rebar, which is a construction material that is very negatively affected by chemicals. In addition, deterioration in rebar causes it to corrode and expand, which causes flaking and splitting of concrete. This is a serious safety issue in which support for multiple decks can be compromised and must be corrected before failure results.

Furthermore, there can be a serious dust issue if the maintenance company isn’t using up-to-date equipment. Newer sweepers include a water system which keeps dust down. In a semi-enclosed or fully indoor parking garage the dust can cause fire alarms and sprinkler systems to go off. It is very important to have a cleaning company which works in close coordination with property management to avoid such disasters.

Use Only Competent Maintenance Professionals

Maintenance people must note when there is a need for service by specialists, for example, when there are signs of rust seeping from concrete members or the fragmenting of concrete or asphalt, indicating a need for replacement of moisture membranes. 

It is vital to have parking structures and lots properly inspected, serviced, and repaired to ensure their safety and endurance, particularly with parking garages, where failure can be catastrophic.

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