Preventative Maintenance Challenges


By Paul Whetzel, CAPP 

The City of Charleston, South Carolina, is a coastal city offering a different set of challenges for staff when it comes to preventative maintenance.  With the close proximity to the ocean, salts find their way into the garage in a variety of ways.  The county garages are also prone to coastal flooding from both tidal and rain events.   Anyone who has visited Charleston during an extremely high tide or during a rainstorm knows about the challenges of navigating its flooded streets.  The county Parking Office is located on Church Street close to the Market Area, and we have witnessed individuals kayaking on the street during these events.  During these events, brackish water floods into the garage infiltrating our office and maintenance storage areas.  The county maintains a 53-year-old precast garage and a 42-year-old post tensioned garage.  The above attacks on the garage structure means spalling concrete is a major problem within the garages.  We are constantly performing repair projects to extend the life of the garages, however, “rust never sleeps.”

At Charleston County, we are very fortunate to have a structural engineer within our department to assist us with repair and preventative maintenance projects.  Our engineer has overseen several rehabilitation projects at the garages.  These projects have included post-tension cable repairs, precast double tee repairs, concrete spall repairs, elevator modernizations, office renovations, railing repairs, traffic coating replacement and repairs, and public restroom renovations to name a few.  We work closely with an appropriate consultant to prioritize these repairs to the parking garages.

As mentioned earlier, our main parking office has been located on Church Street since 2020.  During construction, we opted to include several resilient construction details to mitigate water intrusion and mold issues. Feature examples include:  polished concrete flooring, mold resistant drywall, and elevating electric outlets. We have had several small flooding events both natural and manmade, and the cleanup has been super easy.

Paul Whetzel, CAPP is the Parking Operations Manager for the County of Charleston, South Carolina. He can be reached at .