Signs Your Building Envelope Has Moisture & Water Infiltration

Adam Robinson | Sep 09, 2021

Building management and facilities management involves many important aspects and services. One of the most critical of these falls under building envelope maintenance. As the first line of defense against water infiltration and related damages, the waterproofing envelope must stay high on the list of priorities for building owners and managers to frequently monitor.

Identifying and monitoring common problem areas can help building owners and managers stay on top of water damage. However, it is not always as easy as it sounds. As Buildings.com explains: Water infiltration is the biggest culprit in envelope failures, but its causes range widely. Frequently the result of multiple factors converging over time, leaks can take years to show up – and if you can see water on the inside, significant damage to your envelope is likely. By the time water shows up on the inside of your building, it has had to pass through a lot of materials to get there.” And this hidden damage can cause significant issues throughout the building system with two major types of expenses:

  • Direct costs: These refer to the expenses involved with directly fixing the issue and dealing with the water damages. Examples: wall repairs, replacing ceiling tiles, replacing insulation, and cleaning mold out of the carpet and walls.
  • Indirect costs: These refer to the expenses that seem somewhat secondary but just as devastating. Examples: medical bills due to illness or injury, lost work hours due to closures, and lost customers due to poor facility appearance.

Avoiding direct and indirect costs lie at the heart of waterproofing efforts. For this reason, building envelope restoration and protection against water infiltration and damage continue as some of the top ways facility managers can protect their property. Warning signs not to ignore include the following:

1. Movement of Ceiling Panels, Windows or Other Building Materials

Anytime supports or other materials within the building shift out of place, swell, warp or otherwise change, it often signals a serious issue with the building envelope

2. Damage to Building Materials Where Water Drains

Even when the draining system appears to be functioning normally, leaks and seepage can occur in the areas where water comes into contact with building materials.

3. Humidity Trapped Within Windowpanes

Many commercial windows have two or more panes put together, so moisture in the walls can form condensation within the glass. This signals higher moisture levels.

4. Signs of Mold and Mildew Growth, Including Odors

Any discoloration of materials, noticeable surface mold and mildew, or odors that indicate musty or rotting materials should warrant immediate attention.

5. Paint and Coating Damage

A common but lesser-known sign of water intrusion and water damage is cracking and peeling paint and changing interior and exterior coatings.

6. Water Stains and Discoloration

The most common indicators of water damage in a commercial building are water stains and marks on ceilings, walls, floors, and any other visible surface.

7. Rotting Trim and Roof Components

Water intrusion at higher levels, such as the roofing system, can show warning signs of rotting trim, facades, and unusual wear and tear on the systems.

8. Efflorescence of Stonework

White residue on stonework may indicate the wicking and absorption of moisture into materials over long periods due to building envelope breakdown.

Know the Signs of Building Envelope Water Infiltration, and Have the Right Partner to Address Them

All commercial buildings need protection against water intrusion. This type of commercial water leak dilemma becomes more common all the time. Part of this comes from financial pressure to save money and delay specific maintenance and repairs. It is also partly due to the sheer age, level of neglect, and deterioration of many older buildings. Staying on top of building envelope maintenance will help reduce damages caused by water infiltration. Contact Valcourt to schedule your consultation today. 

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