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10-point visual check for water leaks.

Leakage problems? The primary leakage source can often be identified easily by the owner of the property or the building manager if he or she would go onto the roof and do this 10-point visual check: 1) Exterior Parapet Walls 2) Roofside of Parapet Walls: Openings in the brickwork will be obvious. Take comparisons of the joints at the parapet compared with the lower floors in order to determine the extent of the erosion. Pay special attention to the East side wall which usually shows the greatest damage. 3) Coping Stones: Depending upon the type of coping stones, you should look for various things. On all copings, the cross and bed joints should be sealed; the bed joints with cement and the cross joints with cement and an expandable type of caulking, in order to prevent water penetration as the joints expand and contract with the weather.

On clay stones, the joints are the major problem and pre-cast copings should be examined more carefully. As pre-cast copings weather with age, they become more porous. An obvious sign of this would be mildew spots (green moss). 4) Stairway and Elevator Bulkheads: 5) Roofing: The easiest of all areas for a visual check is the roof deck itself. You can observe any large blisters, rotted surfaces, low or high spots, and you can feel soft spots and water blisters underfoot. 6) Flashings: On some of the older buildings the flashings were made of copper. (Because of the value of copper, for many years these flashings have been a collector's item for thieves.) After the copper has been ripped away from the roof, the base flashings were usually just covered over with tar and sealed. Then, after the flashings dried out, they usually separated from the masonry, thereby leaving openings for heavy leakage. If there were no cap and base flashings removed from your property (because they were not copper) check for splitting or dry-rotting. 7) Roof Penetrations: The waste pipe and roof vents will show obvious openings if there are any. 8) Skylights: Skylights should be checked to see if any glass is damaged and the condition of the metal framework should be checked for rotting. 9) Roof Drains and Gutters: Depending upon the size of the building, and how it was constructed, the water drainage system varies from sewer connected drains on the roof to thru-wall scuppers and/or leaders and gutters. Some of these thru-wall areas, (because of the roofs) may have become higher than the roof surface itself, permitting large puddles to form on these roofs. Whether the conditions are wet or dry, the tell-tale signs will be there such as large amounts of residue. Where gutters were used, you have to look for sagging or rotted areas.

The leader pipes that run along the outside of the building can be seen from the ground level. If these leaders are leaking the joints and the brick in the surrounding areas Will look washed out. Even if the leaders look good, if they drain into the sewer, they can clog up. A simple test at ground level, if accessible, is just to tap on the lowest section of the leader. If it sounds hollow, obviously it is clear. If it has a solid sound, it may be filled with debris or water. This is a signal to check further into the sewer system. 10) Chimneys: The exterior surface of a chimney often misrepresents the total picture. Most boiler and incinerator chimneys do not look all that bad if you are standing on the roof, but when you examine the condition of the chimney cap and brickwork below it, the problem often takes on an entirely different dimension.

Incinerator bulkheads are accessible because they have an inspection door. Don't neglect to utilize this to check the interior of the bulkhead and chimney. Unfortunately, the boiler chimney requires that a scaffold or ladder be set-up in order to look down into the interior.

On the facade you may see what looks like an ordinary problem of settlement cracks, open brick joints and coping stone joints. However, on the inside there could be extensive deterioration. In some cases the brickwork may still be salvageable. Obviously, waiting is not wise. It is far more costly to replace the top of a neglected chimney than it would have been to repair open joints and settlement cracks following a periodic examination.

Erik Kinney, Vice President Ace-Jax Waterproofing
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:advice for property and building managers
Author:Kinney, Erik
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 30, 1992
Words:741
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