Even after decades of technological advancement we are still facing weather induced problems contaminating our constructed buildings. The most destructive weather element to concrete, masonry and natural stone structures is water. The only way to prevent this is to 'envelope' your building by waterproofing it using water resistant products. It sounded simple but again it's not. Most waterproofing work done during the construction stage was most often done recklessly. This happens for many numbers of reasons and for one, the construction companies aren't able to monitor each and every one of its construction workers work so the quality may differ or if you are unlucky they skip a step. Most contractors outsourced their construction workers who speak other languages than English so you tend to wonder about their comprehension of things and what about cutting corners? Some irresponsible company dared to cut corners in the name of cost saving and maximizing profit margins. Either way, once the building is done, all beautifully concealed with coatings of plasters and all you can see is a gorgeous looking house or building. Buildings must be made waterproof or water-resistant from roof tops to vertical above grade walls to below grade floors.
Did you know that almost 90% of water intrusion problems occur within the 1% of building's exterior surface area? Reason being is that during construction, from the process of design, construction, maintenance and 99% of building envelope will typically function properly. It is the remaining 1% that needs attention and time by owners, designers, architects, engineers and contractors to ensure an effective building envelope. The most common reason of waterproofing problem came from the discrepancies of the designs and installations.
The building 'envelope' that I was referring to means a combination of roofing, waterproofing, damp proofing and flashing system that act cohesively as a barrier, protecting interior areas from water and weather intrusion. Waterproofing does not only prevent water penetration but also prevent structural damage to building components. It prevents the passage of pollutants that cause steel deterioration and concrete palling, such as chloride ion build ups into structural components. Once water are able to seep through and in contact with the steels inside the concrete, oxidation occurs. This will result into the expansion of steel and creation of cracks (or even bigger cracks). Building envelopes also acts as weather barrier - the wind, the cold and the heat. These forces with combination of water can multiply the magnitude of damage to building structures as well as its interior. Direct exposure to the wind can force water deeper into a building structure through cracks or crevices where water may not normally penetrate. In order to prevent this, building envelope must not only be water resistant but also weather tight against the wind.
Waterproofing system does not last forever. It usually lasts between five to ten years depending on the contractor's workmanship as well as quality of products. However the lifespan of waterproofing barriers may be shorten even more due to weathering, U.V rays and earth movements. Most of us are oblivious about the fact that waterproofing barriers can be compromised when we do physical alteration towards the external part of the building for example; renovations or even minor alteration or repair works - so long that it leads to physical alteration of the building's surface.
As far as remedial waterproofing is concern, there are four main areas that are usually problem prone which are the roof, wet areas such as toilets, kitchen and balcony, subterranean areas and lastly external walls. Should you have leakage from the roof note that if you are a flat roof or other wise.If you are a flat roof, you should check if your roof is having an active leakage or not. If it is active there is a possibility that there is 'ponding' on top of the roof which means that you might have problem with the gutter or leakage from water tank but if it only leaks when it rains then it is just the roof that is problematic. Many contractors take advantage of this situation to cheat owners into thinking that it is a complicated problem and over charge them.
There were countless times when we face mind boggling leakage problems. Water penetrations are visible but the source was unknown as there was no water source nearby. The Owners would usually call for a plumber to solve the problem as they thought that it was plumbing problem. Plumbers are great at solving plumbing problems when they know and see a clear cut case. It is usually not the case for waterproofing. Seepage and leakage are most often random an inexperience person would blind hack the seepage area in attempt to remedy the problem and we would see that a large part of our walls have been torn apart. The traditional way of rectifying leakage or seepage on wet areas usually involves extensive hacking, removal of existing tiles, pumping of PU grouting with a high pressured compressor. These processes are a nuisance to owners as it is messy, expensive and would usually frowns the 'lady of the house' because they had to remove their designer tiles and most of them did not survive the removal process. After the expensive and troublesome remedial process owners would usually come across another leakage elsewhere and that area is not covered by the contractor's warranty.
In the end, this encumbered owners from getting their waterproofing problems repaired immediately. Most owners allow their problems to spread and cause further damage to the building structure. Not only that, toxic mold would grow on damp walls and ceilings making the house or building hazardous to health. Some people simply result to covering up discolouration's, molds and efflorescence instead of rectifying the problem. This act is reckless and irresponsible because if there toxic molds spawning somewhere it could possibly cost you a life as toxic or black molds can cause respiratory problems and it can worsen an asthmatic condition, can cause allergic reaction and possible bronchial infections.