Water infiltration is a common problem among New York City buildings. The range and severity of our weather test the integrity of the buildings materials and affect its envelope over time. The age, quality, construction methods used, and maintenance of the exterior components will determine how the building performs over time.
Among the weather challenges, exterior water infiltration in a building is usually located along the rooftop floors (due to exposure), rooms below terraces, sidewalks, vaults, and interior areas around facade penetrations and openings such as windows, doors, A/C sleeves, balconies, ducts, etc.
Interior leaks within apartment units also exist and may be caused by plumbing deficiencies or ventilation issues, and are usually located along bathrooms, kitchens or areas near HVAC ducts/ systems. Condensation along the bathrooms due to lack of ventilation can sometimes be mistaken as exterior infiltration.
Do new buildings leak less than old ones?
Not necessarily; new construction usually presents larger wall openings. Windows and curtain walls systems can leak worse than a solid mass brick wall due to improper frame/drainage design, or if sealant and waterproofing is incorrectly installed or designed.
Window wall systems and infiltration through frame joints
Despite lack of waterproofing, the mass offered by older masonry buildings may sometimes hold significant amounts of exterior moisture before signs of infiltration are noted along the interiors.
How to prevent moisture infiltration?
Maintenance of materials along the sensitive areas noted above is fundamental to keep a water tight envelope.
Mayta + Sebastian recommends:
1. Periodic review and cleaning of the roof drains, scuppers and/or gutters. Drains must remain accessible at paved terraces and roofs for an easier maintenance process.
Paver removal needed for drain review/ maintenance
2. Review and replacement of sealants along Window and Door perimeters, parapet copings, A/C sleeves, and other roof/facade joints.
3. Review and repair of facade cladding surfaces, and maintenance of exterior coatings (stucco, EFIS, brick faces). Open (unsealed) facade penetrations must be avoided and protected with appropriate sealants and Flashing systems.
What should I do if I notice a leak?
Report the issue to your building manager. A professional should then assess the area and determine potential sources of infiltration and repairs. Temporary protection can be recommended by the professional to protect obvious sources of infiltration while permanent repairs are scheduled.
If you suspect the presence of mold, contact an Environmental Hygienist. Appropriate ventilation must be provided at areas of interior leaks. The use of the dehumidifiers can expedite the drying process, but will only be effective if the exterior source of infiltration has been repaired. Interior repairs should wait until the source is addressed by the professional/ contractor.
How can sources of leaks be located?
The use of moisture meters, infrared cameras, probes, and water tests help to track patterns of moisture movement.
A good understanding of the building's construction details is critical to pinpoint the infiltration source and potential repair options.
Typically, the affected area is located and investigated, and moisture percentages and infrared anomalies are recorded by The Professional. The related exterior areas are then reviewed for visual signs of potential infiltration sources.
If the source cannot to be found visually; closely monitored water test can be conducted to pinpoint the source.
M+S conducts all infiltration investigations using the latest equipment and technology. Our staff is well acquainted with NYC construction standards and all our reviews are performed by our registered architect in order to expedite a solution to infiltration issues.
Should you suspect water infiltration issues in your building please feel free to call us for a free consultation, we are here to help. At Mayta + Sebastian Architecture we care for your building.
68 34th Street, Suite B541 | Mailbox 37
Brooklyn, New York 11232
Copyright 2015 M+S Architecture