By: Mike Lopez
Leaks and their subsequent symptoms such as: damaged plaster, peeling paint, staining, discoloration, and of course dripping water, plague many building occupants in the NYC Metro area. These annoyances seem to occur at the most inopportune times. Residents want leaks addressed ASAP and in the most minimally invasive way.
When we are called in to investigate reported leaks, our first step is almost always to water test. To those affected, it might seem counterintuitive to recreate damage or water infiltration to repair an issue. However, what they don’t realize is that water testing provides a process of elimination to rule out or determine the facade elements contributing to the problem.
Similar to a science experiment, leak investigation, coupled with water testing, allows us to establish “how” (how is water getting to the interior); “where” (the point[s] of infiltration); “what” (under what conditions did infiltration occur) and “when” (when did water infiltration last occur). Without these answers, Leak Investigators have little information to answer the question – “how do we fix the leak?” Gathering background information, however, is just the beginning. To resolve most water infiltration issues, we must also attempt to perform water tests.
We are often asked how long we expect water tests to last, but we can’t know that until we actually begin testing. As mentioned, it’s a process of elimination where we have to take a “bottom-up” approach. The building envelope consultant conducting the water tests will begin by eliminating building areas and elements at lower elevations, working their way upwards performing sequential tests until the leak or leaks are re-created. Each location is essentially a new controlled test of a specific area in an attempt to recreate reported water infiltration. Testing duration can range from minutes to hours and is very dependent upon the information provided in the data capturing stage outlined above. By using water tests to recreate the conditions under which the water infiltration occurred, and recreating the leaks themselves, we now have the evidence and supportive documentation to provide smart and long-lasting repair recommendations that clients and building occupants can rely on.