One of the biggest headaches for any commercial building manager is the weather.
Wintry conditions, in particular, create wear and tear that accumulates with each passing season. Melting snow and ice may seep into cracks and other openings. Freeze-thaw cycles and de-icing chemicals may lead to structural issues as well as unsightly cosmetic defects.
Believe it or not, facilities in warm or temperate climates may be less well-designed to handle the occassional cold snap. Those in colder regions are often pre-designed to take Old Man Winter’s abuse.
At Mid America Specialty Services, we work with clients in multiple industries and geographic regions to restore and preserve a number of architectural surfaces. Here’s an overview of the damage cold weather can do, along with ways to lessen the impact.
Moisture Penetration & Freeze-Thaw Cycles
It’s basic grade school science: Water expands as it freezes.
Rain or melted snow that infiltrates cracks and crevices will freeze when the mercury drops. This leads to new cracks or tears forming and existing ones growing larger, which further exacerbates the year-round problem of moisture penetration. Water that seeps into masonry can cause spalling, which is a flaking, chipping or peeling effect that appears on brickwork or concrete surfaces.
There are many points along your building’s exterior that are especially vulnerable to infiltration during this freeze-thaw cycle, including roofing materials and mortar joints.
De-icing products are helpful for avoiding slip-and-fall accidents, but they can be harmful to some architectural materials. For example, they may degrade waterproof membranes, which weakens moisture resistance. In addition, a build-up of salts increases pressure on masonry during freeze-thaw cycles, causing cracks and spalling to worsen. De-icing chemicals can also leave etching on stone surfaces and corrosion of metal assets such as handrails, flashings and decorative elements.
Mitigating Cold-Weather Impacts
The sooner you address weather-related problems, the easier they are to fix. Check the exterior for water damage after each winter weather event. Look for evidence of salt deposits, such as a chalky film on the surface.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the facade between seasons. Look for cracks, stains or discoloration, especially near windows, doors and other openings in the building envelope. Take care of repairs and restoration promptly to correct existing problems and prevent future ones.
MASS technicians will apply a breathable, waterproof coating to create a moisture repellent barrier for exterior masonry. A quality sealer prevents freeze-thaw cycling while letting air flow freely through the structure. Ask about coating products that stand up to de-icing chemicals, and consult with an expert to select a de-icer that is compatible with your building materials.
Metal, stone and glass assets can be cleaned, polished and coated with high performance products to protect against scratches, smudges and moisture damage.
If you need to remove weather-related damage or protect against future issues, contact Mid America Specialty Services.
You can reach us at 800-544-4576 or contact us online.