Water is one of the most powerful forces nature has to offer. Leave it anywhere for long enough and it will trickle its way into the tiniest crack, freezing and expanding in areas with significant temperature fluctuations, seeping into pores and leaching out essential binding ingredients in mortar and concrete. It can turn a solid concrete floor with a rebar core into a buckled, twisted mess. It can carve canyons from solid rock.
And when you build a commercial building, you’re pitting yourself directly against it.
The building envelope, or the protective layer around the outside of the building, is designed to keep out water. Whether your walls are EIFS, stucco or masonry they’re designed to be sturdy and impervious to water. And unless breached, they usually are. But the joints are another matter. And next to doors, windows are the next best joint for water to attack.
Water infiltration around windows
A window isn’t just one seam or joint. It’s made up of multiple seams. Each pane of glass has a seam around it where water can get in. Then the window itself has joints where it’s installed in the hole. Caulking around the edges can loosen or flake away as it gets old and dries out, and that means water infiltration.
Windows are naturally some of the riskiest areas of the building when it comes to leaks. Fortunately with a little bit of attention you can make sure your windows stay leak-free.
Most windows lose the gas that’s trapped inside the panes very slowly, at a rate of around one percent per year, but it can be accelerated. If those seals fail, the windows will get foggy—extremely easy to see from the inside or outside.
Joints around the outside of the window failing will often result in water pooling inside on the windowsill (or the floor, if the leak is bad enough). You may also notice the smell of mold in the area as it begins to grow.
Deal with broken seals
If the seal around the panes of glass is broken, you’ll need to take care of it one way or another, but the route you take will depend on the window itself. Depending on the type you may be able to replace the double pane (installing a new window module with the gas intact between both panes), or you may have to replace the entire window.
Caulking and gaskets need to be checked regularly for signs of aging, cracking and flaking. Flashing and caulking don’t last forever, and usually every few years you’ll need to do a refresh.
Is It the window or not?
There are times you may see water or staining around a window near the top. In that case it might not be the window itself. You might have to check the roof, as leaks can start there and travel along the outside of the building.
Windows are key to the overall integrity of your building against leaks. Make sure you’re inspecting, maintaining and keeping your property safe. If you need a hand, call JK Industries. We can help.