When it comes to checking the integrity of existing waterproofing systems in commercial buildings, it’s important to first examine the entire structure for water damage and plan to make the right repairs and additions to prevent trapping or redirecting any water that is discovered, which can cause more water damage in the future.
A building’s waterproofing should have the same design life as the building itself. But given the likelihood of damage, design mistakes or poor installation techniques, many types of waterproofing materials can fail before that point.
Before deciding which type of spray-applied waterproofing membrane to use for restoration or rehab in a building, there are a few ways to determine what the building may require from a product standpoint.
Evaluating Waterproofing Needs for an Existing Building
When evaluating the condition and effectiveness of the installed waterproofing on an existing commercial building, a thorough review should be conducted including the following.
Consult With a Professional
The source of water intrusion is not always obvious, which is why the first step in any restoration or rehab project should be consulting with professionals. Completing a forensic investigation will help find the root cause of the water intrusion and select the right type of remedial waterproofing approach to solving the issue.
Know the Building’s Construction
When dealing with an older building, always examine the existing waterproofing system as it might have deteriorated over time or been compromised by factors not related to the actual waterproofing, such as concrete cracks due to repeated cycles of thermal expansion and contraction. Even the most superficial leak can lead to larger problems.
Review and Consider Building Site Conditions
While knowing a building’s site condition is an important part of knowing the building’s history, it also plays an integral part in the process of choosing the right waterproofing system.
Here are some quick things to know about site conditions that will help in choosing the right waterproofing product:
- What is the overall area of the space that needs waterproofing repair?
- How accessible is the site?
- Is it known what type of waterproofing was originally applied?
- What remedies have been attempted to this point?
- Are slope and drainage included in the building design?
- Are there contaminants in the water near or around the site?
- What are the desired durability and the necessary levels of redundancy?
Does the Waterproofing Need To Be Repaired or Replaced?
As outlined above, there are many things to evaluate first before deciding the best approach to any waterproofing restoration project. Remember, always consult with a waterproofing professional, as they can determine whether the issue can be quickly resolved, or if the structure will require a more comprehensive restoration. Here are some tips to help determine the severity of water damage to an existing building.
- What is the building’s history? Find out how the building has responded to various weather events and temperature fluctuations over time. These factors can impact a building’s integrity and its ability to prevent leaks.
- Does it have ambient moisture? Always know where moisture is originating in a building. Controlling the level of ambient moisture can be as easy as upgrading the HVAC system or as difficult as finding a leak in the building envelope or plumbing system.
- Is “patching” from inside the structure ever a viable solution? In most cases, patching will not work. While cementitious coatings and crystalline topical treatments may solve minor issues, it is typically only a temporary cosmetic solution that can redirect or trap moisture and create another problem that could potentially be worse.
Before Deciding, Conduct a Cost Analysis
Building owners should consider more than initial costs in waterproofing materials since higher quality products will help to prevent excessive maintenance or having to repair water damage. Doing a life-cycle cost analysis might help building owners determine where to invest more in building materials.
Upgrading the Drainage System
Sometimes improving the drainage system or installing additional drainage is necessary to protect the building envelope.
Above-grade drainage panels help channel water away toward drains to eliminate build-up. Below-grade drainage panels help serve a few purposes:
- They help divert water away from the structure to designated discharge points.
- They help alleviate direct hydrostatic pressure against the existing waterproofing.
- Drainage strips can help collect and expel methane gas and other contaminants from underneath structures. EPRO provides a wide variety of drainage composites to address several different conditions.
Fixing the Waterproofing System of Existing Buildings Using Polymer Rubber Gel
The use of polymer rubber gel is ideal for both horizontal and vertical applications, which means fewer products need to be used for a single repair or restoration project. It bonds well to challenging substrates and conforms well to irregular substrates due to its unique physical attributes as a highly adhesive material. Additionally, it is one of few products that can be applied directly over coal tar pitch.
Minimal surface preparation and rapid single liquid applied-layer application techniques also make polymer rubber gel systems a highly productive option over traditional materials and methods. The gel-like consistency of the product allows it to be a truly self-healing and self-sealing monolithic membrane, mitigating potential water intrusion concerns from punctures or damage to the installed system.
Because the polymer rubber gel never completely cures and remains flexible, it’s also ideal for construction sites where foundation settlement, structural movement or vibration, temperature changes, or seismic events are a cause for concern.
Effective, Permanent Waterproofing Using HydroGel
EPRO’s HydroGel polymer rubber gel is ideal for the restoration and rehab of older buildings because it adheres and conforms well to rough substrates reducing surface prep time while speeding up production times. This permanent waterproofing option is a horizontally and vertically applied, 99% solids, highly elastomeric, single-component, hot spray-applied polymer rubber gel that can also be applied by pour and squeegee method.
HydroGel’s unique polymer rubber gel characteristics include self-healing, self-sealing, superior flexibility and exceptional adhesive properties and can be used for post-applied waterproofing systems for above- and below-grade construction.
The HydroGel Composite Waterproofing System combines a spray-applied polymer rubber gel membrane with a durable HDPE protection sheet. This system protects the polymer rubber gel and provides an immediately trafficable surface for follow-on trades. The flexibility of polymer rubber gel, combined with the durability of the various protection sheets, creates a high-performance, substrate-responsive waterproofing system.
EPRO has a proven history of performance with over 25 years of experience ensuring that every project is a success. That’s why we are the company of choice for building envelope consultants and building owners.
Contact an EPRO Representative Today
EPRO has experts who are ready to help with answers about choosing the best waterproofing and contaminant systems for restoration and rehab projects and can help ensure their integrity through proper testing.
Have questions or want to learn more? Reach out to EPRO about collaborating on a project.