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Fall Ideal Time to Prepare Structures for Winter From Roof to Foundation

in News

Routine inspections in the fall can prevent costly repairs in the future

Winter is right around the corner. With the changing seasons comes freeze and thaw cycles, falling pine needles and leaves, organic growth and harsh weather conditions that can wreak havoc on a building or structure’s exterior if not maintained properly. Conducting an annual fall building inspection will help to identify potential maintenance issues before they become problematic and lead to costly repairs for the owner.

“Maintenance of buildings or structures, whether it be the interior or exterior, horizontal or vertical construction, or a hi-rise or single-story, is a necessity across the country,” said Bob Gender, Branch Manager, Western Specialty Contractors. “Many times a quick check today on your properties can help save building owners and managers headaches during the harsh winter months ahead when getting repairs done can be complicated by low temperatures.”

Facility managers can protect their buildings and structures throughout the winter by identifying a few red flags early in the fall and addressing those problem areas quickly and effectively before the winter sets in, says Gender.

Repairing and Protecting Concrete

In the winter, freeze and thaw cycles can cause big problems with concrete structures. When water infiltrates concrete, it can freeze, causing the water to occupy nine percent more volume than in its liquid state. This expansion causes distress on 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, such as Western 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 facility managers can take to actually prevent future damage. Applying hot-applied or below-grade waterproofing and urethane or acrylic protective coatings to traffic decks, pedestrian areas or 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.

For facilities with a concrete parking structure, the fall is an ideal time to survey for damage. Vehicles regularly entering parking garages leave water, oil and muck behind. Not to mention salt and de-icers tracked in during the winter months that can corrode the structure’s concrete and steel support system.

An ineffective maintenance routine on a parking structure can quickly lead to costly repairs and restorations that can be disruptive to tenants and cause unexpected costs and safety concerns.

All types of parking structures are subject to deterioration. Western’s experts have identified five key indicators that a parking garage is in need of preventative maintenance: water leakage; ponding water; expansion joint failure; exposed rebar; and delaminated, spalled or horizontally/vertically cracked concrete.

An experienced concrete maintenance and restoration specialist can identify specific problem areas and recommend a repair plan and maintenance schedule for the structure.

Preventing Unwanted Water Leakage

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 building walls – 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 are also unplanned holes caused by aging brick joints that need re-pointing, vanishing sealants, damage from acid rain and settling cracks. All wall penetrations provide easy access for water, bugs, field mice, birds or other unwanted pests to enter a building and cause damage.

Checking for changes in a building since last year is also recommended. Do you have abandoned pipe penetrations from a tenant upgrade? A new tenant demo? Or maybe just a deteriorated building joint which can make the building joint vulnerable to the elements and unwanted pests?

If a building is seriously damaged, specialists may be needed to bring a wall system back up to its expected performance level. Regular inspections by the property manager or a trained professional will help identify these potential problems early and save the owner money.

Protecting the Roof

The fall often brings falling leaves, pine needles and organic growth on building roof tops. A commitment to good roof maintenance practices can help facility managers avoid overflowing gutters, clogged downspouts and excessive ponding water which can lead to costly roof, facade and foundation damage. A weekly routine roof inspection is recommended during this time of the year.

Decaying leaves, pine needles and dirt run-off can all contribute to ponding water and clogged gutters and downspouts, which is why it is essential that all roof drains remain clear of obstructions. 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 during the fall and winter months can cause extensive roof damage.

Make sure that all organic debris is completely removed from gutters, downspouts and drains before the winter arrives.

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com.

Comprehensive Evaluation of All Roof Components, Structures Recommended Before Making Decision to Re-Roof

in Companies/News

Roof leaks are often a nuisance for a building owner or property manager. Often difficult to track down, leaks can cause damage to interior finishes and lead to tenant complaints – and, if not resolved, unhappy tenants. Those leaks can become a nightmare when a financial decision is made to replace the entire roof of the building…and it still leaks.

“Frequently, an exterior building restoration company, like Western Specialty Contractors, will get a call to come out and try to resolve the leaks. The conversation usually starts with an explanation that this is a brand new roof, that it has had issues from day one, and that the roofer has been out numerous times to satisfy the warranty to no avail. The roofer now says that the problem is not the roof, but something else. That news may be hard for a building owner to accept – after all, it was probably a significant financial investment – but most of the time the roofer is right,” said Thom Belgeri, Department Manager of Western Specialty Contractors’ St. Louis Roofing Division.

Most structures today are constructed out of many different materials that move at different rates. Marrying all of these components together is complex and, at the same time, can make the roof more vulnerable to errors and failure when re-roofing.

“In roofing, details around penetrations at the parapet walls and around building systems are very critical to successful projects,” said Belgeri. “Those are points where the majority of leaks occur. However, in a re-roofing project, even if all the details are done correctly, it may not be enough.

Often the materials located above those details has aged and weathered as well, leading to deterioration and allowing moisture through. That moisture then finds its way behind the newly installed roof.”

Belgeri says it is important to review the condition of the building’s components that rise above the roof level such as a penthouse, elevator shafts, stair towers, parapet walls and coping and to evaluate the parapet walls from both the interior and exterior. The most visible signs of potential avenues for water infiltration are broken/missing masonry, deteriorated mortar and sealant joints, deteriorated concrete, etc. Sometimes moisture can penetrate even what looks to be a solid wall, but may be porous. If those signs exist, there is most likely a leak.

When such repairs need to be performed, it is extremely important that the new roof is well protected and the original installer is notified, Belgeri said. If the re-roofing project is just in the budgeting phase, it is important to evaluate those building components and make the repairs prior to installation of a new roof. It is not only the right way to do a re-roof, but the most cost-effective technique as well.

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com.

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