Consult an Expert When Selecting Appropriate Waterproofing System for Any Structure
By Carter Pogue
Western Specialty Contractors,
Severe weather can cause extensive damage to a structure’s roof, foundation, interior and more if not properly waterproofed.
Waterproofing plays an extremely important role in protecting every aspect of construction. Knowing which waterproofing coverage to specify for a particular structure is more than just a science; it is an art form. Consulting with an experienced specialty contractor for the best waterproofing options available will ensure a quality job that will extend the life of any structure.
The exterior walls of a building can be a significant source of unwanted water leakage. It’s easy to forget how many openings are required in commercial buildings—from plumbing and irrigation connections to lighting, HVAC system elements, exhaust vents, air intakes, joints around windows and doors, and fire alarms, to name a few. There also are unplanned holes caused by aging brick joints that need re-pointing, vanishing sealants, damage from acid rain, and settling cracks.
A structure’s first line of defense is above-grade waterproofing, which includes the use of caulks and sealants to seal the perimeters of windows and other openings. The amount of sealant needed on a new or existing structure depends on exposure and expansion/contraction problems that may be identified. Common sealants include elastomeric breathable wall coating systems, protective/decorative surface coatings, and clear water repellents.
Concrete, Terrace Areas and Decks
In the winter, freeze/thaw cycles can cause big problems with concrete structures. In fact, ice can occupy nine percent more volume than water. This expansion causes distress in the concrete, which can lead to fractures that will continue to grow exponentially as saturation of the material increases.
A wide range of restoration, repair, and reinforcing services are offered by certified, specialty contractors who can repair cracks, spalls, rust spots, deterioration, pot-holes, and heaves in concrete and masonry. More often than not, concrete repairs are made before they become a more serious or costly issue, but there are measures that you can take to actually prevent future damage. Applying hot-applied or below-grade waterproofing to your buried structures, a urethane waterproof traffic coating to your parking decks, and protective acrylic coatings to your pedestrian areas and exterior facades will extend the life of the repair, protect adjacent areas that are currently in good condition, and significantly improve the aesthetics of the area treated.
A commitment to good roof maintenance can prevent overflowing gutters, clogged downspouts, and excessive ponding, which can lead to costly damage.
Decaying leaves, pine needles, and dirt run-off can all contribute to ponding water and clogged gutters and downspouts. In addition to the risk of water pouring into the tenant spaces should a breach in the roof occur, the freezing and thawing of ponding water can cause extensive roof damage. Applying waterproofing to a structure’s roof is important and requires a professional’s expertise to determine which option will work the best. Some available roofing systems include synthetic rubber materials, hot rubberized asphalt, and insulated roofing membrane systems.
A number of excellent below-grade exterior foundation waterproofing systems are available in the marketplace. These materials may be applied on the inside or outside of the wall or foundation and include the following:
- Fluid-applied elastomeric membranes, mastics and coatings that form a tough, seamless membrane to withstand abuse and high levels of hydrostatic pressure.
- Hot-applied rubberized asphalt for horizontal waterproofing in split-slab construction and insulated roof membrane assembly roofs.
- Single-ply sheet systems such as rubberized asphalt sheets, EPDM synthetic rubber, PVC, CPE, CSPE, Butyl rubber, and Neoprene.
- Bentonite clay panel and sheet systems that swell when they become saturated to block moisture from entering a building.