Mind the Gaps to Avoid Water Intrusion, Structural Damage

Buildings and parking garages are made up of many different systems and components. And just like a subway station where a gap is present between the train car and the platform, there are gaps between the different building components. If the gaps are not addressed, they can lead to water intrusion and structural damage. That’s why it’s always important to “Mind the Gap” when it comes to building maintenance.

Western Specialty Contractors’ experts recommend inspecting a building’s caulk joints and sealants at least once a year to look for any signs of deterioration, which could include cracking, flaking or missing material.

Where a window meets the surrounding wall, there’s a gap. Where a roof meets a building’s wall, there’s a gap. Where window glass meets the metal frame, there’s a gap. These gaps are usually filled with caulking or sealant to keep water from damaging interior spaces. The most important thing to understand for cost-effective exterior property maintenance is that the caulking, sealant or whatever is being used to fill these gaps are the weakest links in your building or parking garage.

On a typical building or parking garage, these gaps only account for about 1 percent of the total surface area, but they’re responsible for 90 percent of all the water-intrusion problems. If you can keep this 1 percent of your building’s surface area functioning correctly, you’ll prevent 90 percent of all future water intrusion issues.

Western Specialty Contractors’ experts recommend inspecting a building’s caulk joints and sealants at least once a year to look for any signs of deterioration, which could include cracking, flaking or missing material. It makes sense why caulking is so often overlooked by building managers. Its size and cost seem relatively small compared to other parts of the building. But what’s staggering is how often contractors overlook this crucial component.

If caulk deterioration is present, Western Specialty Contractors’ experts recommend having the damaged caulk removed and replaced immediately by an experienced specialty contractor. Property managers should not dismiss the importance of caulk maintenance—and not trust just any contractor to maintain this crucial building component.

If one component fails, like the caulk, it doesn’t matter what kind of shape the other components are in, water is going to get into your building. The main thing to keep in mind is that your building is made up of a bunch of different components. The only way your multiple building components can work together is if each one is properly transitioned into the other parts. That transition we’re talking about is usually the caulking.

About the Author

David Grandbois
David Grandbois is assistant branch manager for Western Specialty Contractors Minneapolis branch.

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