Do you know the damage that water can cause to a building? Do you know what signs to look for when water is causing damage to your building? By understanding where your building is susceptible to water damage and the signs to look for when inspecting those areas, you can prevent further damage if seepage is found upon inspection.

Understanding your buildings envelope components is the first step in being able to effectively asses your buildings existing condition. Your building envelope, simply stated, consists of the roof, an above grade wall system and a below grade wall system. With various types of materials used for each component it is important to understand that each serves the same purpose. To provide adequate protection from moisture air and temperature.

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Roof systems

Roofs are an area of high concern in regard to building water damage. There are a variety of roofing materials that are available for commercial buildings. Whether you have a liquid applied roof or an EPDM system all roofs should be inspected regularly with a proper maintenance plan in place. A failed roofing system can cause major problems for the building, such as:

  • Damage to structural building components
  • Pre-mature material failure
  • Stains on ceiling/walls
  • Visible cracks near roof
  • Leaks into occupied space

The best means of protection against the above issues is inspection, specifically, inspection by an expert.

Above Grade Wall Systems

All façade systems have a lifespan which can be extended marginally with proper and frequent inspections and repairs. Although there any many types of wall systems they can generally be categorized into barrier walls and mater managed walls. Older structures were typically built using load-bearing mass masonry barrier walls. Modern structures generally consists of exterior veneers that employ a drainage plane that allows water that penetrates the veneer to be captured and redirected. This would be a water managed wall.

Water damage to any wall system can be serious as it can cause damage to units and surrounding common area, as well as safety concerns for the structure itself. A proper inspection and repair schedule is the best way to ensure the facade’s longevity.  The following is a short list of common signs that exterior repairs are needed.


  • Staining of wall/ceiling surfaces
  • Stains at window soffits
  • Damage to window trim
  • Wet stains on floors
  • Mold/odors
  • Wall cracks


  • Cracks in wall
  • Bulges in wall
  • Spalling at vertical surfaces
  • Visible rust
  • Deflection at lentils or other steel
  • White haze on masonry surfaces

Water intrusion through any façade system will lead to destruction at ceilings, walls, carpets, and hardwood floors, as well as mold in the walls of the building. If not regularly inspected by a professional, building leaks can go undetected as the water doesn’t always make its way into an area visible from inside the building.

Below Grade Wall Systems and Flooring

Below grade wall systems are generally barrier walls consisting of concrete, block, stone or a combination of these materials with the concrete floor poured into the wall. Problems are often found at the juncture of the concrete slab and the vertical wall. This cold joint will leak under hydrostatic pressure if there is not a water stop in place.  In walls subject to high level ground water it is important to maintain proper concrete and waterproofing materials to mitigate any excessive leaking. Cracks and seepage in the vertical walls can be addressed from the interior or exterior using appropriate positive or negative side weatherproofing measures.  Floor cracks or deteriorated flooring can be repaired from the top side. Signs that there may be issues with your below grade wall system include:

  • Seepage
  • Discoloration
  • Rust spots
  • Cracks

To resolve these issues, masonry/waterproofing experts can install a variety of both positive and negative side repair materials including injection grout and epoxy, cementitious repair mortars and negative-side crystalline coatings.

Are you experiencing water intrusion issues? Do you have questions about waterproofing? Need to schedule an appointment for an inspection? Give Atlantic Restoration a call, at 617-622-5946.

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