Condition Monitoring Helps Detect Building Envelope Problems

  September 3, 2012

I’m Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic discusses building envelopes.

Experienced forensic building envelope consultants know water infiltration is the most common problem for building envelopes on institutional and commercial buildings. While some cladding assemblies might be inherently more vulnerable to damage from water infiltration than others, the problem can affect any cladding system.

Water-infiltration problems commonly take place where cladding systems meet other envelope materials and systems. The challenge for maintenance and engineering managers is to develop maintenance and repair strategies — both proactive and reactive — that effectively target these areas.

Whether a manager employs a proactive or reactive strategy, one good place to start looking for problems is the interfaces of systems and components. Sealant joints might outwardly exhibit failures where the sealant has cracked or split open or has simply aged due to long-term exposure. Adhesive failure occurs when the sealant's bond to the substrate at one or both sides of the joint deteriorates.

But overall, when it comes to minimizing building-envelopes repairs if problems develop, a proactive strategy for the inspection and maintenance of building envelopes is always preferable to a reactive strategy. In situations where a leak is reported and a reactive approach is required, proper diagnosis of the leakage source allows managers to more effectively and appropriately allocate repair funds.


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