Expecting the Unexpected when Winter Comes

Unpredictable weather conditions have always been a hallmark of the Western Cape, being known originally as the Cape of Storms, and we Capetonians tend to accept the temperamental climate as the price we pay for living in this beautiful and rich part of the country. Recently, however, the ongoing drought has taken its toll not only on the natural environment, but on many man-made structures as well.

It is quite likely that the current heat and dryness will have far reaching consequences for our buildings over the next several years and that the effects will continue to be felt long after the dams are once again full and water restrictions are only a distant memory.

Cape Town’s mercurial weather tends to be better at exposing a building’s hidden faults and weaknesses than the most rigorous testing. Should you fail to secure your roof sheeting every 0.8m, you needn’t worry about a municipal fine. The Southeaster will carry your roof out to sea long before any inspector has a chance to come knocking. In the Cape, a mild case of rising damp can quickly become a mold infestation thanks to a sudden spike in humidity and many a ceiling has been ruined by an unexpected Summer downpour and the hole in the roof that you intended fixing before Winter arrives.

When we think of what these sudden and extreme turns of weather will do to structures weakened by erosion, heat and general neglect, it is after all hard to justify the cost of repainting the exterior of a sectional title unit surrounded by a dying garden, it is easy to see why the painting and waterproofing industry is bracing for the inevitable onslaught of emergency waterproofing and sealing projects.

The various causes of these looming water ingress issues are going to be just as numerous and difficult to predict as the projects themselves; anything from damaged window seals, deteriorated expansion joints, failure of coatings, incorrect flow of guttering or accumulated debris in the gutters and in some cases just plain poor workmanship. After extensive periods of heat and dryness, as we have recently experienced, it is not uncommon for cheaper waterproofing applications, and fibre coatings to become brittle and start to crack. Very often these cracks can result in delamination or create areas for future water ingress.

When property owners are unaware of these hidden faults and issues, and they most often are, weather events, such as the much-needed rain which we are all so fervently hoping for, always lead to unforeseen property damage and the frustration that comes with it. Sometimes this rain call fall for weeks without letup, making repair almost impossible and thus leaving the victims of a leaking roof trapped until the next sunshine.

Implementing a PMR22 Plan is not only a legal requirement for all Sectional Title Units, but it is also a quick and painless way to protect the value of your property by predicting, planning and budgeting for potential issues before inclement weather forces your hand and causes further damage.

When it comes to painting and redecoration, many people think of paint as purely an aesthetic element, a finishing touch, but it also plays an integral part in the waterproofing system of the structure as a whole, preventing the substrate from absorbing and retaining water and protecting the structure itself from the elements. When water does permeate into the structure it can lead to ingress into the interior of the building as well as structural damage and oxidization of the reinforcement steel. This in turn leads to what is commonly referred to as concrete cancer – rupturing of concrete caused by the expansion of rusted steel reinforcements. All of this is preventable through regular repainting and maintaining the coating by cleaning and mold and fungi remediation.

The first step to implementing a PMR22 Maintenance Plan is the inspection. We call this the Current Assessment. While anyone can walk around your property with a clipboard and tell you that it needs a new coat of paint, a professional maintenance adviser will be able to identify the hidden issues which need addressing and also the precise time frames involved. Knowing ahead of time when you will need to repaint before the paintwork fails and allows water into the structure, leading to unforeseen costs for additional repairs, is what makes a PMR22 Plan a sound investment.

If you are not ready to take the plunge of doing a full maintenance plan, then why not get started with the Current Assessment so that you can at least have a professional opinion of what needs to be done. A Current Assessment will cost you as little as R1,881.00 including VAT.

This article is creative copyright in terms of CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 If part of whole of this article is reproduced or quoted, acknowledgment must go to PMR22 and a full link back to the original article.

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