Whether you’re a property manager or property owner, one universal truth is clear: Your most valuable asset is the building for which you are charged to care, protect and generate returns. It goes without saying then that as protector, it is your duty to identify and mitigate the most vulnerable parts of this asset.
Weatherproofing is a building’s most structurally vulnerable component. It must be watched over and monitored because it protects the building, its tenants and other assets from Mother Nature. This includes wind, water and, most damaging, the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Weatherproofing components are the products that keep the exterior forces out of the interior of the property. These include the roof, which often includes the thermal barrier, windows, siding and caulking joints. These components constantly are exposed to damaging weather effects and all share common causes of failure.
As challenging as this sounds, there is a way to help protect the building from the torture of Mother Nature. Routine inspections and preventative repairs can increase the life expectancy of the waterproofing materials by as much as 10 years. Most building owners and managers have a service agreement with mechanical contractors, plumbing contractors, pest control companies and many others; however, many fail to have a similar agreement for the waterproofing components of the property. Extending the life of these systems by five to 10 years can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to the building owners.
The best defense against Mother Nature is to protect the weatherproofing from exposure, which can be achieved by sacrificial layers, proper annual maintenance and service to the existing components.
Of all of the forces you contend with, UV degradation is the most unforgiving and damaging. The sun’s relentless rays deteriorate all aspects of the building’s exterior, beginning the day the materials are installed.
Colorado’s Front Range has some of the most severe of all the adversaries. Sitting at 5,280 feet above sea level, the UV rays are more severe than most other parts of the country – not to mention Colorado’s 300 days of sunlight. Therefore, UV degradation occurs at a much more rapid rate on a building’s weatherproofing.
Freeze-thaw damage due to moisture infiltration into the weatherproofing is another relentless stress on the weatherproofing materials. During the freeze-and-thaw process, the moisture causes the materials to expand and contract, creating stress and eventually failure.
Moisture infiltration often is referred to as a “leak.” When the damage becomes obvious on the interior of the building, typically it is the result of damage to the structure and its contents.
Another tool in Mother Nature’s arsenal is thermal shock. This is caused when the materials contract too quickly for the weatherproofing materials to keep up. This creates gaps in the structure that allow moisture to seep into the waterproofing components.
With the rapidly melting snow during the day and the refreezing at night, we see more freeze-thaw than most parts of the U.S. Our most unique force is the rapid temperature changes that occur, most notable during spring rains when the temperature can drop 30 to 40 degrees in a matter of minutes as the clouds come over the mountains and bring freezing rain with them. These rapid temperature changes can have severe consequences, even causing parapet walls to be pulled down and onto roofs.
While the challenges that are presented to you to keep your building and tenants dry and happy seem many, there are options and prevention measures that can keep time on your side and Mother Nature out. Pursuing service agreements with a skilled and knowledgeable weatherproofing professional is one more relationship that will help keep your building generating revenue for years to come.