Waterproofing: The Basics for Managing and Maintaining Your Building’s Health

Waterproofing is a process designed to prevent moisture from penetrating into a building structure. It is part of the original construction phase of a building focused on walls, windows, doors, wall penetrations, and sidewalks.

Many waterproofing sealants have a manufacturer’s warranty, but deficiencies can accelerate with extreme temperature swings and weather conditions. Proper maintenance can be the key to limiting the impact of weather-related wear and protecting the life of your building.

Why is waterproofing important?

Waterproofing deficiencies cause 80 percent of a building’s defects. These failures can cause concrete cancer, mold, interior damage, and serious structural issues. When waterproofing deficiencies lead to structural damage, a building is no longer safe, leading to liability and insurance issues for the property managers and building owners.

How to spot waterproofing deficiencies?

Anytime you are onsite at a property, look for waterproofing deficiencies. Typical indicators of waterproofing deficiencies are present in the sealant in the form of splitting and holes. You may also see the product detaching from the substrate, feeling gummy to the touch, missing altogether, or exposed to the backer rod. Likely, the most common problem you will notice is moisture penetrating the building at the wall joints, windows, or doors. Cracks in concrete walls and stucco finish also attract moisture penetration.

Where are common waterproofing focus areas?

Waterproofing focuses primarily on these three areas:

  • Window and door sealants – including wet glazing, window perimeter, door perimeter, and frame connections.
  • Building sealants and caulking in joints and connections – such as tilt-wall joints, brick control joints, transition joints, and wall penetrations.
  • Site Sealants – including concrete paving, concrete sidewalks, base of wall joints, and cracks in horizontal concrete surfaces.

Who should you call if you have waterproofing deficiencies?

It is always best to consult a professional. Waterproofing professionals are trained in sealant installation to meet the warranty requirements. In addition, when you work with a waterproofing professional, look for a maintenance program that provides ongoing inspections and repairs to give you peace of mind. Beyond peace of mind, regular inspections and maintenance can extend the life of your waterproofing, meet your warranty and insurance requirements, and protect the structural integrity of your building and preserve its value.

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