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Staying Dry Waterproofing Buildings the Right Way

The sound of drip, drip, drip from a leaking faucet can drive most co-op or condo homeowners nuts. Especially if you hear dripping in the middle of the night and you just know it’s probably trickling through windows, ceilings, doors and floors, and perhaps to the units below.

From rooftops to basements and spaces in between, water poses an ongoing risk to the structural and aesthetic health of any building; and indeed, architects, builders, and engineers commit ample time, energy and resources to sealing and waterproofing homes during the building process. “Most of the waterproofing activities take place during construction,” says Tosh Tricas, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, and vice president of field services for national property management firm Associa, which has several offices in Chicago.

These waterproofing activities are focused on the most vulnerable aspects of a building, including the roof, the likeliest contender for trouble, “because it is always exposed to the elements,” continues Tricas.

The Main Causes

“Age is the most common cause of roof leaks,” says David Leger, CAM, service manager for Associa. “Roofs wear out; they are the one part of the building that endures the most dramatic elements. In the North, ice will tear a roof apart and in the South, the sun’s ultraviolet rays will deteriorate a lot of roof systems.”

Other building components can cause leaking problems, as well. “Windows are vulnerable if the proper ice and water shield is not installed,” says Tricas. “Basements are vulnerable if the block is not waterproofed; no drain tile system is installed, and no rain gutters direct the water away from the foundation. Parapet walls are vulnerable if the flashing is installed incorrectly.”

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