Problems with waterproofing? 5 causes and how to resolve them


Acknowledged as a crucial element in any construction project, waterproofing plays a vital role in preserving your property and your health by preventing damage caused by moisture and water infiltration.


Over time, it’s common for flaws to appear in waterproofing systems, requiring corrective or maintenance interventions. This raises the questions: why do these failures occur? What are the reasons behind these issues?


In this article, we’ll discuss five common reasons and offer advice on how to address them when they arise. Keep reading to find out more.




1. Inadequate material or system selection

One of the fundamental pillars to ensure the effectiveness and longevity of waterproofing lies in the careful selection of systems and materials composing them. Neglecting this step not only compromises the entire process but also triggers premature failures, leading to additional repair costs that can pose a significant barrier to building owners and managers.


The range of waterproofing materials available in the market is vast, each with its own distinct characteristics and properties. Thus, the choice should be made based on the requirements of the structure to be waterproofed, taking into account factors such as the type of substrate, local climatic conditions, exposure to chemical or environmental agents, and the purpose of waterproofing.


For example, in areas subject to high traffic loads or structural movement, it is essential to opt for suitable systems and materials capable of withstanding these stresses without compromising integrity. On the other hand, in places where the risk is lower, such as balconies, less robust materials can be used, but still ensuring effectiveness.



2. Unqualified workforce


Waterproofing structures extends far beyond the mere application of materials. It demands technical expertise and a profound understanding of the principles involved in the project to ensure lasting and effective results.


Each step must be executed with precision — from properly preparing the surface to applying the product, as any deviation from the correct procedure can compromise the system’s performance. A poorly prepared surface can lead to damage and result in poor adhesion or fixation of waterproofing membranes, while improper application can leave areas poorly waterproofed, creating potential points of infiltration.


Therefore, securing the support of certified professionals is essential to ensure the quality of work. Additionally, ongoing training and supervision by specialized companies significantly contribute to reducing failures and ensuring effective waterproofing.


Regular supervision during the waterproofing process plays a key role in identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate into significant failures. Furthermore, post-service support is essential for dealing with any eventualities after the completion of the work.






3. Surface preparation inadequacy


As previously mentioned, proper surface preparation is a crucial step in the waterproofing process and one that should not be overlooked.


Before proceeding with waterproofing, it is vital to conduct a thorough inspection of the surface, correcting any irregularities, removing impurities, and ensuring a uniform base. Utilizing appropriate preparation techniques, such as correctly creating slopes and applying consistent substrates, helps maximize the effectiveness and durability of the waterproofing system.


It is equally important to highlight the relevance of specific details, such as joints, corners, thresholds, and other construction details, which are critical areas that require special attention during the waterproofing process. If these areas are not properly prepared and sealed, they can become vulnerable points to water infiltration.



4. Underlying structural damage


This poses a significant and often invisible threat. Before proceeding with waterproofing, it is imperative to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the structure, as these can compromise the overall effectiveness of the waterproofing system, even when the best materials and techniques are employed.


During the assessment phase, any existing “defects” in the structure should be identified. Cracks, damage caused by leaks, and other structural issues must be addressed thoroughly and appropriately before applying the materials. Ignoring these issues can prematurely compromise the effectiveness of the system and result in serious failures.





5. Lack of proper maintenance


Over time, wear and tear are inevitable, even for high-quality waterproofing systems. Factors such as prolonged exposure to the elements, including UV radiation from the sun, rain, temperature variations and structural movements, can gradually compromise the integrity of waterproofing materials. This continuous exposure can lead to cracks, drying out, deterioration, and other types of damage that reduce the effectiveness of waterproofing and increase the risk of water infiltration.


A proactive approach is essential through the implementation of a preventive maintenance program. This process not only allows for the early detection of signs of wear and damage but also enables timely corrective interventions. Simple repairs, when done at the right time, can prevent minor issues from turning into major failures that require complex and costly rehabilitation.


So, what should this preventive maintenance include? Regular inspections and timely repairs to identify and correct any issues before they become more serious. It’s also important to conduct waterproofing tests and evaluate the integrity of joints, sealants, and structural details, ensuring that the entire waterproofing system is functioning as expected.




What to do when waterproofing fails?


If you notice any failure in waterproofing, it’s crucial to act swiftly to prevent potential damage to the structure and underlying materials. Here are some steps you should take:


  • Identifying the root cause of the issue is crucial to pinpoint where the failure occurred, involving a thorough visual inspection to pinpoint areas of water infiltration, leaks, or visible surface damage.
  • Assessing the extent and severity of the damage is essential to delineate the necessary approach for repairs.
  • Seeking guidance from qualified professionals can provide expert insights and recommendations on the best solutions to effectively and durably address the problem.
  • Considering preventive measures for future failures, such as implementing a regular maintenance program, applying additional protective coatings, or enhancing the waterproofing system, is advisable.
  • Following corrective action, regular monitoring of the affected area should occur to ensure that no new issues arise in the waterproofing system.





Rely on expertise


Seeking industry experts’ advice is highly recommended to get guidance on the most suitable products for each specific situation.


At Prudêncio, we boast over 40 years of experience in seeking the best waterproofing solutions. That’s why we’re the perfect partner to provide valuable insights, taking into account the structure’s characteristics, safety standards, local regulations, and industry best practices.


With a track record of completed projects nationwide, we’re equipped to make your construction project the next success story. Contact us and schedule a meeting.

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