According to the insurance industry, waterproofing failure is one of the biggest claims when it comes to residential and commercial properties, and construction-related issues. Failures in waterproofing and sealing can severely affect a business’s reputation, and work to rectify the problem is time-consuming and complex. Waterproofing failure also comes at a huge cost, and the extent of the damage can present serious risks. So what are the main causes of failures when it comes to waterproofing, and how can you avoid them?
Three main causes of waterproofing failure
1. Poor preparation
It’s little surprise that poor planning and workmanship account for 90% of all waterproofing failures. As with all types of craftsmanship, prepping the surface is paramount for producing a perfect finish. One of the main causes of poor preparation is a lack of time – there’s often insufficient time allowed for the correct preparation before the application of waterproofing membranes. When left to the last minute, the installation of the various ancillary and critical components of waterproofing can fail or greatly affect the membrane performance.
Poor workmanship, including incorrect installation, can lead to leakage issues as well as the wrong product or method used. Poor preparation and installation of critical junction points in vertical and horizontal surfaces is also a major cause of failures since poor detailing and inadequate curing of the bonding solution can adversely affect a membrane’s effectiveness, where the membrane can shift and crack with the differential movement occurring over time.
It is integral here to properly assess if the surfaces are smooth, clean and free from any distortions or debris. Ensuring that manufacturing specifics are properly followed will result in optimum performance of waterproofing membranes.
2. Incorrect selection of material
Choosing the incorrect material can rapidly cause the failure of waterproofing to occur on any structure. When a material is used differently to what it was intended for, treatment will either become less effective or will fail to function entirely.
Similar to the last main cause, incorrect selection of waterproofing materials, liquid or sheet membranes, can be linked to poor preparation, with the individual in charge of sourcing the materials failing to look over the details. There are a plethora of choices available in the market that have waterproofing capabilities. Nevertheless, these are often used for specific cases, scenarios and environments. Thus, when used incorrectly, this is where the waterproofing issues arise.
In addition, failing to follow the instructions defined by the manufacturer can cause the material to malfunction and remedial work may be required to fix the problem. For example, when waterproofing a commercial building – from green rooftops to the roof and balcony, the waterproofing material needs to be compatible with all materials used. However, by not following the instructions and using the product on an incompatible surface, problems are guaranteed to occur.
3. Adhesive failure
The third most common failure of waterproofing is residual moisture that leads to adhesive failure or the de-bonding of the waterproofing material. Australian building standards specify the need for substrate dryness for the installation of all floor covering materials over concrete and mortar screeds. It’s crucial that a builder or waterproofing contractor is knowledgeable in testing the dryness of a surface before applying a waterproofing system.
This moisture problem common to liquid waterproofing can therefore be avoided by choosing Wolfin or Cosmofin from Projex, a waterproofing membrane that can be laid over damp substrates.
Waterproof contractors should be equipped with the knowledge to choose a waterproofing membrane that suits the surface being worked on. Making sure to choose a complete waterproofing system that includes a sheet membrane with all the ancillaries that will allow the membrane to resist environmental factors and/or building movement.
Work with professionals in remedial waterproofing
Choosing a trained, professional waterproofing expert that’s certified and licensed in waterproofing will prevent any issues or failures when it comes to your property’s waterproofing. Avoid trying to fix the issue yourself and call in the help of an expert to inspect your site and ensure the correct products and methodology is applied.
Waterproofing failure can have significant effects on the safety and value of a property. A skilled contractor will make sure that the site is prepped and waterproofing materials are applied in the correct way, specific to the manufacturer’s recommendations. With the correct workmanship and application of waterproofing membranes, you can be confident that your buildings’ waterproofing solution will stand the test of time.