Why Standards? Concrete Sponges

Why Standards? >>
Here's a good example of how the awareness of standards would have avoided an expensive litigation involving damage and repair. A machining company that specialized in medical equipment manufacture, had purchased a newly built building. The building was a concrete block structure which was finished to the style the machining company wanted. This included offices on a mezzanine that created a second floor and a production area and warehouse on the main floor. The exterior walls were coated with a clear water repellent coating commonly used on brick and block surfaces.

During the next month there was considerable rain. Water leakage through the block walls began to damage stored products in the warehouse and tools in the production area. Not fully realizing where the water was leaking from the new owners then contacted the construction company who in turn sent a roofing inspector. The inspector checked the flashing and roof for possible causes and could find no problems. It was suggested that the owners contact the painter who coated the exterior walls with the water repellent. The painter in turn called the manufacturer of the repellent who sent a representative and both inspected the walls. It was agreed that the water was passing through the walls and most significantly through the south exposure where there was no protection from wind driven rain.

In a meeting with the owners, the painter agreed to re-coat the walls with material supplied by the manufacturer. This satisfied all parties and the re-coating was done on the next dry day.

Within two months after re-coating, the same problem became apparent again. This time there had been a Christmas shut-down of the machine shop for two weeks. In this time substantial damage to equipment and stock had occurred. The owners then started a litigation naming both the manufacturer of the water repellent and the painter who had applied it. Both the painter and manufacturer stated that "this had never happened before on this kind of structure" as well as that the system was used successfully on many occasions.

An inspection service was hired by the owners to evaluate the situation and find a solution to the problem. In examining the block surface it became clear that the type of block used was a lightweight type of product that is very porous. This conformed to the CSA standard H700/N/O which is a block with a compressive strength of 700 psi. and a density that is less than 105 lbs. per cubic foot and water absorption is unlimited. The water repellent would never fill the large pores in the block and there would always be leakage. The best recommendation would have been to apply a high build coating and considering the potential for structural movement in a block structure, an elastomeric coating.

Had the painter, owner or coating manufacturer been aware that there are standards for the blocks and other substrates and how those standards affect their recommendations, there would have been no costly damages from the start. What had been a $22,000.00 job ended up as a $150,000.00 litigation award to the owners due to damage and other real costs such as lost production and sales.