Spalling, a threat for building owners
It can be said that spalling is one of the bigger threats facing building owners in coastal cities, and in higher rise buildings, the risks can be compounded. Spalling can be the cause of multiple challenges in building maintenance.
Spalling is largely a result of moisture ingress from incessant sea spray and high rainfall. In climates such as the Western Cape where winter rainfall dominates the cold season, the evaporation and drying periods after rainfall is so much longer than in other South African cities where summer rainfall occurs. Water has a longer time to find weaker entry points into outer structural walls and roofs.
Waterproofing and correct selection and application of paint and waterproofing products is critical to reduce and prevent spalling. Moisture ingress can be attributed to various reasons, some being the exterior structure and coatings being compromised due to age, damage or incorrect products being used, or the application of products not being done according to manufacturers’ specifications. Over time, this moisture ingress manifests in the rusting of steel reinforcing in the walls bringing on spalling.
Cracks initially appear and soon rust stains become evident. Larger cracks develop and plaster begins peeling off the brickwork followed by bricks splitting, which then can lead to structures failing, posing a significant threat to residents or tenants. Facilities and building maintenance managers must keep a constant lookout for signs of spalling damage.
Spalling is a concern for building owners. It can take time to reveal itself, but once there are signs of damage, it is best to address the problem right way.
In some areas, spalling damage may be limited to a small area, but it can also be a cause of significant damage to not only walls, but windows, doors and even flooring. Keep up with your maintenance regime to avoid costly repairs by identifying spalling early.
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