How to Protect Property from Water Damage
may be essential to life, but, as a destructive force, water can diminish the value of your home or
building. Homes as well as commercial buildings can
suffer water damage that results in increased maintenance costs, a decrease in the value of the
property, lowered productivity, and potential liability associated with a decline in indoor air
quality. The best way to protect against this potential loss is to
ensure that the building components, which enclose the structure, known as the building envelope, are
water-resistant. In addition, you will want to ensure that
manufacturing processes, if present, do not allow excess water to accumulate. Finally, make sure that the plumbing and ventilation systems, which can be
quite complicated in buildings, operate efficiently and are well maintained. This article provides some basic steps for identifying and eliminating
potentially damaging excess moisture.
and Repair All Leaks and Cracks
following are common building-related sources of water intrusion:
and doors: Check
for leaks around your windows, storefront systems, and doors.
Improper drainage systems and roof sloping reduce roof life and become a primary source of moisture
intrusion. Leaks are also common around vents for exhaust
or plumbing, rooftop air-conditioning units, or other specialized equipment.
and exterior walls: Seal
any cracks and holes in exterior walls, joints, and foundations. These often develop as a naturally occurring byproduct of
differential soil settlement.
Check for leaking plumbing fixtures, dripping pipes (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains
(both interior and exterior), defective water drainage systems, and damaged
heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems: Numerous types,
some very sophisticated, are a crucial component to maintaining a healthy, comfortable work
environment. They are comprised of a number of
components (including chilled water piping and condensation drains) that can directly contribute to
excessive moisture in the work environment. In addition, in humid
climates, one of the functions of the system is to reduce the ambient air moisture level (relative
humidity) throughout the building. An improperly operating
HVAC system will not perform this function.
Water Intrusion Through Good Inspection and Maintenance Programs
a qualified InterNACHI inspector to perform an inspection of the following elements of your building to ensure
that they remain in good condition:
and sealants: Flashing,
which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors, windows and roofs, are designed to prevent
water intrusion in spaces where two building materials come together. Sealants and caulking are specifically applied to prevent moisture
intrusion at building joints. Both must be maintained and in good
All vents should have appropriate hoods, exhaust to the exterior, and be in good working
Review the use of manufacturing equipment that may include water for processing or
cooling. Ensure wastewater drains adequately away, with no
spillage. Check for condensation around hot or cold materials
or heat-transfer equipment.
systems are much more complicated in commercial buildings. Check for leakage in supply and return water lines, pumps, air handlers
and other components. Drain lines should be clean and clear of
obstructions. Ductwork should be insulated to
prevent condensation on exterior surfaces.
Except in specialized facilities, the relative humidity in your building should be between 30% and
50%. Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings,
and musty smells are signs that relative humidity may be high. If you are concerned about the humidity level in your building, consult
with a mechanical engineer, contractor, or air-conditioning repair company to determine if your HVAC
system is properly sized and in good working order. A mechanical
engineer should be consulted when renovations to interior spaces take place.
clean off, and then dry all surfaces where moisture frequently collects.
joints are materials between bricks, pipes and other building materials that absorb
movement. If expansion joints are not in good
condition, water intrusion can occur.
from Water Damage
finish materials: Replace
drywall, plaster, carpet, and stained or water-damaged ceiling tiles. These are not only good evidence of a moisture intrusion problem, but can
lead to deterioration of the work environment, if they remain over time.
walls are generally comprised of a number of materials combined into a wall assembly. When properly designed and constructed, the assembly is the first line
of defense between water and the interior of your building. It is
essential that they be maintained properly (including regular refinishing and/or resealing with
the correct materials).
areas should be kept clean. Allow air to circulate to
prevent potential moisture accumulation.
Quickly if Water Intrusion Occurs
shut-off valves so that the water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak. If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the
problem quickly and thoroughly. Immediately remove standing water
and all moist materials, and consult with a building professional.
Should your building become damaged by a catastrophic event, such as fire, flood, or storm, take appropriate
action to prevent further water damage, once it is safe to do so.
This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, and/or removing wet
materials and supplies. Fast action on your part will help minimize
the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.