All the best water control strategies are useless if your building is literally under water.
What happens if/when it fails? Water always “wins” entry into our buildings in the long run. Our best efforts to control it are relatively short term, measured in years or decades. Protect the most vulnerable and least visible areas of your building with the best strategies, and consider the effects of a breach in your water control layer. Are the results catastrophic, or is there a way for water to drain and/or dry out before causing damage?
You should be able to trace your finger around the water control layer on your building plans and clearly understand how water is being directed and controlled on each surface, at each transition between surfaces, and especially at penetrations. Think like a water drop! As you are considering the effectiveness of your planned water control layer, remember that water will move by gravity, but it will also be driven by wind, and it will move via capillary action and surface tension in every direction. If at any point you are uncertain about the path of water under different conditions, redesign your water control layer until you are confident it will be effective.
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At the construction phase, inspection of the water control layer is critical, and these inspections should be carried out by a person with direct responsibility for the warranty of the building. Major seams are obvious places to check, but many leaks occur at penetrations, so flashing details need to have positive lapping and appropriate sealants. Photo records of important details can prove very useful in helping to troubleshoot any problems that occur in the future. Be sure to sequence construction such that moisture- and temperature-sensitive materials and sealants can be installed and cured according to specifications.
A rainscreen is the most durable and resilient means of cladding a building in a rainy climate (or even in dry areas that occasionally experience heavy, driving rain). Rainscreen cladding is installed so that there is an air space between the main wall assembly and the cladding. The space is typically %-1 inch (1.9-2.5 cm).
This air space prevents moisture-laden cladding from touching the wall and provides a pathway for drying air to carry moisture away from both the wall assembly and the cladding. The air space must be protected from intrusion by insects or animals at the top and bottom of the wall, and the air space must connect to the outside at the base of the wall and at the top be vented to the outside or into a well-ventilated soffit.
Brick, stone, wood, metal, and even plaster cladding can be installed as a rainscreen.
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