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What Every Facility Manager Should Know About Inspecting Exterior Caulk Joints before Winter

written by:
Bob Gingrich and John Bagushinski

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

This oft-cited quote from historical icon, Ben Franklin might be putting it mildly. A June 2015 report from Munich Re reports that a total of 11 winter storm and cold wave events resulted in $3.8 billion in overall economic losses in the period from January 2015 to the end of winter. Some of those losses might have been avoided with pre-winter building inspections.

With the harsh winter months quickly approaching, Facility Managers should schedule an exterior inspection of all their buildings. We believe the very first item on your inspection list should be making sure your building(s) are properly sealed. An improperly or outdated sealed building could lead to dramatic energy losses and premature system failures due to moisture and air infiltration, possibly resulting in unnecessary and costly expenses.

To ensure you are ready for the snow, sleet, wind and severe temperatures this winter, complete a thorough inspection of your building envelope. During your inspection ask yourself these questions:

1. Is my building older than 10 years?

The average lifetime of exterior caulking is 10 years. If your building is older than 10 years, be sure to look for aging material along the joints. If weather patterns have been particularly harsh, you may see areas of accelerated deterioration.

2. Is my building constantly in the sun?

UV rays are never the same on each side of a building. Exterior walls that receive direct sunlight (or reflective sunlight from adjacent surfaces) will deteriorate more rapidly. Caulking material will break down over time in varying exposure to sunlight.

3.Is my building located in extremely hot or bitterly cold seasonal conditions?

Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause continued expansion and contraction (freeze-thaw), eventually causing the material to crack.

If you say "yes" to any of these questions, the likelihood of damage or deterioration of your masonry facade is greater, and you should pay close attention to areas that fall into these categories.

 

 INSPECTION CHECKLIST

1. Put it on your calendar

Your exterior building inspection must be a priority. The best way to make sure this gets done is to schedule it in your calendar or into an automated workflow computer program.   It’s even better if you schedule it the same day each year (the first Thursday in November, for example). Facility managers are often overloaded with hectic schedules, overworked staff and challenging environments, so it’s easy to let the inspection slip off your "to do list."

2.Walk the perimeter of each building

Binoculars are a good companion for this task. Make sure you visually inspect the areas where joint sealants are present (i.e., window and door perimeters, building control joints -which are usually located every 15-20 ft. - and areas where two different types of masonry material meet (like where brick, stone, EIFS/stucco or metal come together).

3.Record the condition of the joint sealant

During your inspection, take notice of the condition of the joint sealant in these areas. Record and photograph any area of concern.

You want to look for chalking or discoloration, cracking, softening or splitting of the joint sealant itself. You also want to look for joint sealants that no longer adhere to the substrate and most importantly, joint sealant that’s missing altogether. Keep in mind the most common culprits in the deterioration of joint sealants are caused by the age of the sealant, overexposure to water, ultraviolet light, and freeze-thaw cycles.

4.Schedule any repairs as soon as possible

Don’t wait. The number one mistake is NOT doing ANYTHING. Please be aware that there are different sealants for different situations. Using the wrong sealant and applying the wrong installation method, while at the time might seem the best and most cost effective way to prepare your building for the winter, if done incorrectly, will definitely cost you more to be repaired again…only this time by a professional.

Always remember, a properly sealed building will save you money over the long winter months. If you need help with building inspections or repairs, The Witmer Group can complete the work in its entirety or collaborate with your in-house staff to minimize the impact on your maintenance resources.

Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Brent Miller promoted to Assistant Superintendent

Congratulations to Brent Miller!
promoted to Assistant Superintendent, Waterproofing & Coatings

 

 

The Witmer Group has promoted Foreman Brent Miller to the newly added position of Assistant Superintendent.  Miller will be working alongside Waterproofing and Coatings General Superintendent Bill Kefauver, assisting in the supervision of field operations, coordinating for and interfacing with clients, contractors and field personnel, and monitoring work performance, quality, productivity, safety and scheduling.

Miller has worked in the industry for 13 years, beginning his career in waterproofing/coatings in 2004.  As a Foreman, he was celebrated for outstanding customer service, exceptional workmanship, and consistently meeting productivity and safety goals.

Miller lives in Wellsville, PA, York County, with his Partner Kristin and their three daughters, Mackenzie, Morgan and Madilyn.

Brent Miller crop sm

Learn more about Brent from his Employee of the Month story here!

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