Large warehouse freezers need special attention to avoid frozen soils in the floors. Available systems to prevent damage include liquid (glycol) antifreeze systems, vented air systems, and electrical heat systems. In this case, an air system was used that was intended to draw ambient exterior air through large pipes under the slab so that the floor could be warmed. However, the air didn't move quickly enough, and the air exiting the system was too cold. The soil below the warehouse froze, and distress occurred in the freezer walls, which allowed moist air from the outside. Once inside the freezer, the warm, moist air caused icing issues.
In addition to the heaving issues, the exterior of the building had settled, and the anchorage between the slab and wall panel failed. Once the anchor failed, the wall panels started to shift out. The solution included removal and replacement of a portion of the slab, and a flexible sealant at the freezer panels with extra consideration for potential movement.