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It may seem obvious, but there are many ways a multi-storey building is different to a house. A major difference is the waterproofing issues, as there are many more threats to the businesses using the development as opposed to a single-business structure.

Additionally, it’s up to owners of commercial buildings to ensure the building is up to scratch for tenants and correct waterproofing is part of the process. In fact, research has shown thatwhile waterproofing accounts for only one per cent of a building’s overall costs, damage from water leaks accounts for up to 80 per cent of a building’s defects.

Not only does correct waterproofing and ensuring all leaks are plugged the moment they’re spotted ensure building safety, it also helps prevent the loss of rent caused by a building becoming uninhabitable.

1. Issues from above

Regardless of where the business space is situated in a building, there are always risks from above.
If it’s on the top floor, puddles can form on the roof. This is especially true of flat roofs, which collect water when it rains. This water can potentially seep into the ceiling space causing a leak. Any water that remains standing on the roof has the ability to damage the structure through wear and tear.
Alternatively, the lower floors may have issues when it comes to faulty workmanship on the floor above. Deficient tiling or defective plumbing can result in huge issues for the floors below, including cracks, mould and structural defects.

2. Incorrect waterproofing

Correct installation is key when it comes to waterproofing. Many leakage problems are caused by poor waterproofing, which can result in moisture. If the waterproofing is done incorrectly, the building can degrade much quicker due to the moisture build up. It can also lead to direct damage to the property and in the case of businesses, damage to equipment, especially those occupying the lower floors.

3. Balconies

If the building has external areas, it’s an absolute necessity that balconies and terraces are waterproofed correctly. Regardless of the direction of rain, if the outside area is open to the elements, it’s going to get wet when the weather hits. If not waterproofed correctly, water can get straight into the building through the openings, regardless of how small.

4. Windows

The other most obvious place for water to get into buildings is through the windows. And we’re not talking about open ones. Windows are extremely vulnerable to water, especially from rain driven by strong winds.

5. Ignoring the need for maintenance

Perhaps one of the biggest problems though, is ignoring the situation when something goes wrong. Even the smallest leaks should be dealt with immediately as they have the potential to grow to much bigger ones that will cause much more damage. This also means checking balconies, windows, cracks and any other issues that may crop up, and immediately dealing with them. The longer these issues are left, the more damage they’re going to do.

Tips and tricks

Not all hope is lost though. There are many things one can do to minimise water damage.

1. Inspect your roof regularly

Even though flat roofs are the most vulnerable, regardless of the grade the roof should be inspected on a regular basis. It also doesn’t matter what material it’s made from.Experts recommend that a commercial roof should be inspected at least twice a year. During the inspection vents, drains and any rooftop elements where water may be able to enter the building should be checked. If there are any water stains, these should be thoroughly inspected, as should any cracks, as these are a good indication of where water may be pooling or even getting into the building.

2. Regularly check the drains, plumbing and irrigation

These types of leaks can sometimes be hard to spot so regular inspections are an absolute necessity. Draining systems and plumbing should be checked for any blockages or drips. Remember, even if a leak seems small, it has the potential to grow to a much bigger problem so deal with it sooner rather than later. And always consult an expert to fix the problem. Unless you’re a plumber yourself, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the expertise to fix the issue. In fact, it may get worse.

3. Ensure all seals are maintained

This goes for all window seals, door seals and even wall systems. Concrete is a porous substance so water commonly gets through. Remember, while leaks may sometimes not be visible, moisture is still getting through the wall. If water damage is found, again, get the experts.

The Projex Mission is to source and supply technically excellent products to meet the needs of owners, designers, insurers and operators of buildings and structures for specialist protection against water, industrial liquids, impact and corrosion risks.