Tackling Waterproofing Stereotypes

What are the construction & waterproofing challenges
Sameer Karkhanis, Founder, Odd Jobs Waterproofing, highlights the areas where waterproofing needs attention, the challenges involved, and suggests appropriate measures and remedies.

What are the construction & waterproofing challenges in High-Rise buildings?
In the constructed and operative high-rise buildings there are many operational challenges such as the following:
  • Elevation/projections of the building are such that it’s not feasible to install scaffolding, material lifts, etc.
  • Working while retaining the exterior look of the high-rise.
  • The cost factor is higher hence service societies and maintenance departments don’t sanction the amount needed for quality work, and look for cheaper options, with the result that cracks and seepages reoccur.
  • Property buyers have already paid many other charges and are reluctant to pay for any extra work.
What are the main factors that lead to waterproofing failure in High-Rise concrete buildings?
What are the construction & waterproofing challenges
The first mistake an owner makes is in not hiring a waterproofing consultant. Waterproofing is a full-time specialized profession and should never be carried out by an unprofessional. You might end up using inappropriate products for the waterproofing job.

Other causes are additives and admixtures not used or, if used, then added to concrete without proper know-how. Wrong diagnostics by pseudo contractors leads to wrong remedies and further leads to failure in solving the leakages. Professional waterproofers not only undertake full responsibility for the work done, but also give warranties/guaranties for an X-number of years. Another issue is the lack of importance given to surface preparation. It is said that a good beginning is half the work done. So, surface preparation is as equally important as a waterproofing application.

Use of old, stereotype practices to solve concrete leakage will not help in solving modern issues that come up due to modern and complicated designs. Architects want their projects to look the best with unique designs and elevations. The beautification of a building’s exterior can only be retained for a long time if a water-proofer is hired at the planning and designing stage; however, this does not happen due to the lack of attention given to waterproofing.

Another issue is of water ponding on concrete surfaces that are not flat enough or where there is an inadequate slope. Even if concrete is freshly laid, preventing water ponding is very important before waterproofing work begins by checking if there are any structural defects, shrinkage, cracks etc.

When it comes to basements and retaining walls, using cheap chemicals can put the entire building in danger. In case of landscaping, swimming pools, and fountains, unethical waterproofing practices and use of low elongation chemicals and membranes can create trouble in the long run.

What are the different types of waterproofing systems being used in concrete buildings and structures?
Epoxy-based waterproofing is done by using the injection method for concrete waterbodies and basement retaining walls. Hot air bitumen membrane sheet and tarfelt should be used on the exposed areas. Unfortunately, these are wrongly used on concrete surfaces where materials fall over it. In polymer coating, cement may or may not be added. These cementitious coatings are diluted with either polymer or polyethylene. What matters here is the quality of the product, its viscosity and elongation properties, and knowing how to apply the product. For PVC membranes used for installing in water bodies, basements, and retaining walls should be installed correctly and with the right methodology.

What are the construction & waterproofing challengesPowder Admixture

What remedial waterproofing solutions would you like to recommend?
Crystalline waterproofing comes in single or double components and is applied mostly on poured concrete surfaces to protect them from dampness. It can be applied on concrete slabs of a terrace, bathroom sunk, water bodies, places below the ground surface, etc.

Alkaline admixtures and glassfiber or liquid admixtures should be used strictly under a waterproofing consultant’s or an applicator’s supervisor’s guidance while pouring concrete by RMC or a hand mixer machine. This will protect the areas from voids, porosity honeycombing, concrete shrinkage, crack formations, and also give excellent protection to the reinforcement.

What are the construction & waterproofing challengesGlass Fiber strands

Water stoppers or swelling bars are used to break the flow of water seepage and are placed in position during the construction phase. These should be used in areas where concrete joints are present and particularly on steel bars before pouring concrete, or after an earlier poured concrete has got set. Its main utilization is in basement walls, retaining walls, shear walls, and in water bodies. Flashing tapes can also be used similarly on horizontal and vertical joints.

The method of injection grouting is done after construction. Silicon coatings, PU, high elongation polymers, and bore packing methods ensure good waterproofing in a building.

What are the construction & waterproofing challengesLiquid Admixture

What special waterproofing jobs does Odd Jobs Waterproofing undertake?
We are an 18-year-old Ahmedabad-based waterproofing company. Our specialized areas of work are stopping bathroom dampness without breaking the tiles; salt-free plasters, moisture resisting wall putty, and exterior waterproofing coatings for bungalows, buildings, apartments, and penthouses. We also provide turnkey projects, and project management consultancy.
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