"Rubber-Tipped snow plow blades--nice idea but it'll never happen,"
is a frequent comment we hear when making this recommendation.
On the contrary,
rubber or polyurethane tipped blades are in frequent use and are not an unreasonable
requirement to make of a decent snow removal company.
Yes, they wear out
more quickly than steel, but the contractor doesn't have to put them on
vehicle--only the ones that will be used on top decks of parking
polyurethane edges from
plows come in different shapes and sizes and are readily available.
One supplier is
Lacal Equipment (click here)
Here are a few we've
come across from Canada, to Utah, to New Jersey:
(click images to
That's not to say that
there are times when the snow-removal contractor forgets or doesn't
brief a new driver, in those cases it is critical that your expansion
joint is forgiving of occasional errant plowing. See EMSEAL's bulletin
on Aggregate Loading
of parking deck nosing materials for more on how thoughtful material
selection can serve the owner's interests.
I. GENERAL MAINTENANCE
In general, little if any maintenance is required for EMSEAL's parking
and plaza deck expansion joint systems. The following practices, however,
will aid in extending their service-life.
A. Once a year, the joint should be swept out, vacuumed and inspected for
any damage. If any component of the joint system is damaged, EMSEAL and/or
the qualified installing contractor should be contacted to evaluate and
perform the necessary repairs.
Snow removal poses the greatest hazard to the long-term service of expansion
joints as well as other deck elements such as traffic-bearing deck coatings,
sealants, toppings, and even the concrete itself.
For this reason, warranties on EMSEAL's materials when used in decks or
roadways are contingent on the use of rubber-tipped snow plow blades. In
addition the snow removal practice recommendations made by EMSEAL follow
those of the National Parking
Association, and the Precast
Prestressed Concrete Institute, i.e.:
--From: "Parking Garage
Maintenance Manual", National Parking Association.
"The snowplow blade must not be allowed to
damage the concrete floor, sealants, toppings, or expansion joints. A heavy
rubber cutting edge may be fitted to the bottom of the plow's steel edge,.... A snow-broom attachment is useful for light
--From "Maintenance Manual
For Precast Parking Structures", PCI-Precast Prestressed Concrete
Institute, Publication MNL-136-04, 2004
"Plows and other snow removal implements
that come in contact with the driving surface should have well-maintained
rubber blades to minimize damage to the deck surface.
D. Snow Removal Procedures
The following guidelines should be followed during the snow removal process.
1. Snow plow blades should not come in direct contact with expansion joints,
deck membranes, or joint sealants. Blades should be kept a minimum of ½ in.
above these sensitive materials. Blades should also not impact vertical
offsets between adjacent deck surfaces. Plows must be equipped with
well-maintained rubber blades to minimize impact damage.
2. Reduced equipment driving speed should be used at changes in floor
slopes, such as the ends of ramps, washes (i.e., raised areas of the deck
surface), at the ends of double tees, and at handicapped ramps.
The following recommendations must be followed to minimize damage to
expansion joint systems.
A. Whenever possible, remove snow from the expansion joints either by
sweeping, shoveling or snow-blowing.
B. If snow plows are to be used, the
blades must be equipped with suitable
rubber edges. It is also recommend that the location of the joints be
clearly marked and the plow drivers instructed to lift their plows slightly
when crossing the expansion joints.
C. Never plow with the length of the blade parallel to the joint. Either
plow down the length of the joint with the length of the blade perpendicular
to the joint or plow across the joint with the blade at an oblique angle to
D. If possible, it is wise for owner's include in snow plowing contracts
that the snow plowing contractor is responsible for any damage to the
expansion joint caused by plowing not in accordance with the recommendations
herein and for any expenses that may be incurred in repairs as a result of
voiding the expansion joint warranty."