Facility Dude

How to winterize your walkways and parking lots

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 02, 2015

Facilities Management, Safety and Risk Management

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How to winterize your walkways and parking lots Winterizing your sidewalks and parking lots might get overshadowed by preparing your buildings for winter. It's certainly important to make sure your buildings are ready for the freeze, whether they are new or old. However, walkways and lots are just as important - if they aren't prepared properly people could get injured or vehicles could become stuck or damaged.


Slip and fall injuries are very serious. During the winter months, sidewalks can become covered in ice, causing unsuspecting pedestrians to take a fall. This could cause broken bones, concussions, and even fatal injuries. After shoveling, ice can form over the concrete, making walkways look clear, but are still dangerous. According to the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the winter weather often drops to below zero degrees, there are several types of salt to consider when it comes to clearing away ice.

Most products that are specifically labeled for ice removal will work on concrete until the temperature drops below 25 degrees below zero. If it gets any colder than that, you may have to physically remove the ice build up with an ice chopper. If you're worried about the salt wrecking nearby grass, consider using magnesium chloride. It's more environmentally friendly and lessens the chance of finding yellow patches in the grass after the snow melts. For newer sidewalks, you might not want to use salt at all, as it could damage the appearance of the concrete. Instead, throw down some sand or grit on top of the ice, it'll give the surface more traction and make it safe to walk on.

This information can be easily stored in a computerized maintenance management system, so that it's easy to remember each year. Plan out maintenance orders ahead of snow and ice storms and make sure your sidewalks are ready for traversal by the time staff arrive at work. In the case of an unexpected storm, you can quickly get in contact with maintenance workers and assign them duties as the situation calls for them.

Parking lots

In areas where the weather gets very cold in the winter, parking lots can take a considerable beating. They emerge from the snows the following spring worse for the wear, covered in new potholes and cracks, and their lines faded. To mitigate some of this damage, considering patching any holes at the beginning of winter. Mike Condon, a facility manager, suggested that you should use cold patch to flatten out potholes. It's not a permanent solution, but it will get your lot through the winter.

In addition to potholes, you should seal up any cracks in the asphalt, as winter weather will only cause them to widen. Seal up cracks at the beginning of winter to keep out moisture - if the temperature drops below freezing, the water trapped in the cracks will freeze, expand and cause further damage. If your lot sees heavy use during the winter, apply a coating to the seals to keep them from disintegrating. You need to do this early, however, as most coatings won't stick in temperatures under 55 degrees.

When winter really settles in and there aren't any more chances to do preventative work, save your lot by removing snow often and laying down grit and salt. By using grit, you won't have to spread as much salt around. Plus, it'll help vehicles enter and exit the lot more easily. By winterizing your sidewalks and lots, you'll keep staff safe and prevent vehicle damage.

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