Of all the problems that can befall a residential building over the course of its long, eventful life, perhaps none is more insidious and damaging than water leakage and infiltration. Water leaks are hard to triangulate and hard to stop, and their long-term aftereffects are often hard to remediate. From the stains and mildew caused by a neighbor's flooded bathroom to a building-wide mold problem triggered by a compromised roof, water damage is frustrating, expensive, and can even pose serious health risks to a building's occupants.
Of course, the first step to dealing with leaks is preventing them in the first place. While a complete roof replacement is a massive, expensive project, keeping the roof you have in good repair can spare your building the capital outlay of a new roof for many fixing consequential water damage in shareholders' apartments.
While a roof-and-faÃ§ade inspection can be done at almost any time of year, spring is the most logical time to bring a waterproofing specialist into your building to check out the condition of your roof and walls. According to Lori Simon, director of marketing for Manhattan's Kay Waterproofing, the most common cause of leaks and water damage in any building is not flooding of Biblical proportions, or a roof torn off by gale-force winds; it's the slow grind of the passing seasons, negligent maintenance of the roof and faÃ§ade, and just plain old Father time.
"Sleet, snow, and wind can damage mortar and caulking sealants, and the weight of snow on a roof can compromise the flashing system, which allows water to penetrate beneath the structural deck. If your roof was in need of attention before the bad weather set in, cracks, damaged seams, and bulges in the membrane just worsen over the course of the season," says Simon.
And if your building ponied up for a new roof that wasn't done with the utmost competence and care trouble spots could certainly lie ahead., according to Andrew Wist, president and CEO of Standard Waterproofing & Roofing in the Bronx. "If a new roof leaks within the first season is up, it'll leak forever. It doesn't matter how often you fix it - if it was done poorly to begin with, it'll be a nightmare," says Wist.