Roof Leak Testing – Old and New

Roof Leak Testing – Old and New

Roof Leak Testing – Are You Experiencing Roof Leaks?

 Roofing leaks are commonly experienced with any building structure, whether it is a small residential roof, the top of a skyscraper, or the roof of a large shopping mall.  Detecting a leak is difficult enough, but locating it, when the hole could be the size of a pin can be a time-consuming task. Where do you even start to look with roof leak testing if you know you have leaking water?

Generally, roofs in Dubai and the UAE are a very low sloping roof or are flat in nature and usually takes one of two forms; the most common is known as a ‘gravel and tar’ covering used on flat roofs; and others are membrane based, which are effectively a rubber covering which creates a sealed membrane, used on low sloping roofs.

With the ‘gravel and tar’ type roof, two or more layers of bitumen are laid, overlapping each other.  Bitumen asphalt is a type of tar and comes in solid sheets (the same liquid material used on road surfaces).  As the sheets are laid they are fire sealed, effectively melting them together to create a barrier.  Once cooled, the area is then commonly covered in gravel or screed surface, the idea being that these two sealed layers prevent water leaking through but are also aesthetically pleasing.  However, due to the nature of bitumen, these roof coverings can become damaged easily during periods of maintenance; for example, during the fitting of pipework or extra air conditioning units, workmen needing access to the roof, both on foot and with equipment.   As a result, the sheets can crack and bend, resulting in areas where water can leak through.

The other most common choice of roofing are membranes, otherwise known as either EPDM, Hypalon, PVC or TPO, the idea being to create a sealed roofing cover to prevent the water leaking through.  The membrane is created by using layers of material which is laid like a carpet and sealed to a type of backing material or by way of a hot air iron.  This then provides a membrane casing for the roof.

When either of these two forms of roofing are applied, they have to be tested for leaks.  The classic historical form of testing for roof leaks is the gravity test.  In essence, an area on the roof is sectioned off and filled with water.  It is then left for a few days and the inside of the building is monitored to identify any water leaking through.  However, over time it has become apparent that this type of testing is not wholly conclusive or satisfactory.

The more modern form of leak testing is to use new innovative technology that scans the roofing area to locate leaks. By using ultra-violet rays and infrared technology, the smallest of pin-hole leaks can be identified in a roofing structure allowing a swift repair to take place; no need to wait days to see if water seeps through and no invasive equipment, just a simple scan.    With the extensive costs that can be involved with rectifying damage to buildings caused by leaking roofs, companies need to move with the times.

Malls, Schools, Hospitals, Hotels or any large building now need to take advantage of this cost-effective technology, using a preventative approach to maintaining their roofs rather than a reactive measure.  A scan of a newly fitted roof or a periodical scan of an existing roof can give you piece of mind that water is not quietly drowning your business.

For information on how we can help if you suspect a leak, consult LeakDTech’s professionals now!

Staff Accommodation – Start Saving Now

Staff Accommodation – Start Saving Now

Saving Money in Staffing Accommodation

It is well known that throughout Dubai, many construction companies save costs by setting up staff camps for use by their employees.   This benefits the employer by providing low cost, local accommodation that is convenient for working life.

However, some staffing camps can house more than 1,000 workers and as such the Maintenance Team will be looking for areas where costs can be saved and expenses reduced.   Bills will mainly include electricity and water and if any of these utilities are not properly maintained, hundreds of thousands of Dirhams can be wasted each year.

With multiple blocks providing hundreds of rooms, canteen/kitchen facilities, toilet, shower and washing facilities, the potential for a water leak occurring is high.   The problem however, with a site that size is where do you start?  With such a large area to monitor, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to be aware that you have a water leak, let alone identify its location.

With the camp facilities in constant use, given that many will be shift workers, the water supply will be continuously used day and night.  Management need to confidently maintain the water system as a whole and know that all the facilities are working as they should be; poorly flushing toilets, leaking taps or low pressure showers are not hygienic or appealing when returning home from a long shift.

So the question is how can you manage the site, identify issues and rectify them swiftly.  Whilst a burst pipe can cause immediate costly damage, a leaking pipe that is in a wall or ceiling cavity going unnoticed for months or years could cause a wide spread amount of damage, not only to the aesthetics of the building but the internal structure, with the remedial costs being extensive.

A regular low-cost system of monitoring and inspection would assist the staff camp’s management in keeping costs under control.  With new advanced state-of-the-art technology, a two-staged approach could be set up:-

  • Phase 1 – (Annual Inspections & Monitoring) would be to commence an overall level of monitoring. The equipment uses sensors to quickly identify leakage and easily offer information on the exact location of leaks even over large areas.  Along with technology-based investigations looking for indications of damp or wet patches.
  • Phase 2 – (In-Depth Inspections) would be a staggered, more in depth inspection which would concentrate on scanning key areas such as roof, chilled water lines, kitchens, water & drainage pipes, shower cubicles and toilet facilities. Scanning/Inspecting the building’s structures periodically would allow a problem area to be identified.

The two phased approach not only indicates if a problem is detected, but the sensors can specifically identify the location of the leak to allow a swift, low-cost repair to be carried out.

The potential benefits of this approach for operators of a typically sized staffing unit, annual savings could be as much as 500,000 AED or more in water-related operational costs alone when a full review and prevention schedule has been instigated.

Staff camps are designed to assist both employer and employee by providing affordable, clean, safe living accommodation enabling key staff to live close to their working environment.  What you do not want is mouldy, stale smelling, damp rooms, creating huge financial concerns and causing unhappiness and sickness throughout the working community.

For information on how we can help if you suspect a leak, consult LeakDTech’s professionals now!

Interstitial Condensation – Why should we worry?

Interstitial Condensation – Why should we worry?

Interstitial Condensation you say? Why should we worry?

When it comes to the safety of buildings and their ongoing maintenance, sometimes it just feels like an endless list of worries, especially for the bigger property owners with their hotels, malls and office blocks. Where is the time to sit and research all of the problems that you might experience when some of them you have never heard of or have no way of identifying?

So one to add to the list is…..yes you guessed it…..Interstitial Condensation…..not just good old fashioned condensation.

So why is the ‘interstitial’ bit important? Okay, we all know and understand normal condensation……you have a steamy situation combined with a cold front and the windows in your building may become moist with water which we all know and term as condensation. It can easily be cleaned away.

However, the problem with interstitial condensation (interstitial meaning forming or occupying), is it cannot be seen. It occurs when warm moist air penetrates inside a wall floor or ceiling structure and when it reaches its ‘dew point’ (the temperature when vapour becomes water), it turns into liquid and pools, soaking into and rotting timbers and other materials. As it is not visible and not cleaned away, overtime the condensation simply lingers (occupies) which can result in mould as well as long term structural damage.

With large buildings such as hotels, there is every chance that interstitial condensation is happening somewhere inside, the question is where. Any hotel owner for example, certainly does not want damp and mould issues causing maintenance expenses, as well as the associated health risks to the their visitors. A few bad reports of guests smelling damp or becoming ill from mould-spore based infections, is not good for business.

So what can be done to help detect and remedy this potential problem, which is hidden from the naked eye? Reassuringly, new innovative technology has been created to assist with all types of water and leak problems within building structures. As well as sensors that can be fitted to an internal water system to alarm you to the presence of water leaks, as well as newer technologies, an infrared system or similar alternatives can now be used to scan walls, ceilings and floors and identify damp patches indicating the potential presence of internal condensation.

Once the internal location has been identified, further technology such as smoke or ultrasonics can be used to locate the external leak.  This allows the opportunity to carry out a small area of maintenance to rectify the issue before it becomes a large scale problem.

A key warning to look out for is damp paint work, peeling walls or a musty smell. If you identify one of these problems or you simply want some piece of mind, arrange to have your building scanned providing you with the knowledge that you are not infected with……oh what’s that word again….Interstitial condensation!

For information on how we can help if you suspect a leak, consult LeakDTech’s professionals now!

Malls, Schools & Hotels – Is Your Atrium Leaking?

Malls, Schools & Hotels – Is Your Atrium Leaking?

Is Your Atrium Leaking?

When we envisage water leaks the images that spring to mind are burst pipes, leaking taps, and holes in roofs. Maintenance programmes are designed for large buildings, particularly hotels, to try and ensure that all areas are regularly inspected, maintained and repaired.

However, with our hotels becoming more and more glamorous given the fierce level of competition in today’s tourist industry, the fight is on to try and become the most eye catching, awe-inspiring place to stay, particularly in the favourites such as America, Paris, Australia and the hotter climates such as Dubai. What we are seeing more of, to a lavish extent, is the designs of hotel atriums and reception halls. The entranceways to some of the larger hotels can actually take your breath away as you enter them. They can be huge, many of which are made of glass in all types of colours and fashions with beautiful sofas, reception halls, meeting areas, cafes and bars and, let’s not forget, the greenery. Some atriums can make you feel like you’re walking through a rain forest with plants and small trees all around, creating an atmosphere of relaxation.

Hotel atriums can be low, just covering the ground floor, or can be as high as the hotel itself, a glass corridor leading up to the sky, a window to the stars.

So, back down to earth, the leading question here…… what are the implications for creating such beauty? What do you do if you find you have wet floors meaning the atrium is leaking? Somewhere in that huge, complex elevated structure made of beautiful glass panes, you have a leak. Not a pipe that just needs a new valve or some sealant that needs to be replaced; you’re looking at a puzzle of huge interlinked panes of glass. The maintenance man cannot simply just walk up to the top floor and identify the culprit. The more realistic likelihood would be towers of scaffolding erected throughout your reception area in order to allow for a thorough investigation of the roof.

So what are you left with……. leaking water onto a beautifully smooth marble floor equalling slipping hazards for guests; having to section off areas of your beautiful indoor rainforest to allow for works reducing social space; the noise and disruption associated with workmen using tools and machinery all around you, putting a dampener on that tasty gin and tonic and, in essence, ruining that tranquil atmosphere and creating an ugly, unsafe, unwelcoming environment for new and existing visitors.

The answer to avoid all of that…… have the roof immediately scanned by experts utilising new innovative technology that uses either smoke, ultrasonics or smoke from the ground to scan the atrium and pinpoint that leak. This provides the opportunity, on a small scale basis, to reach the specific area of the atrium for repair. Get your atrium scanned now. Don’t let your panes become a pain!

For information on how we can help if you suspect a leak, consult LeakDTech’s professionals now!

Asbestos Plus Water – A Lethal Duo

Asbestos Plus Water – A Lethal Duo

Asbestos Plus Water – A Lethal Duo!

As with Dubai, a lot of Middle East buildings are new compared with the rest of the world, being less than 20 years old Asbestos is not considered a problem as much as in other regions of the globe, where thankfully asbestos awareness has changed globally over recent years. However, contractors still come across a few legacy buildings that contain asbestos, naturally occurring fibrous materials, extremely hazardous to health. Asbestos is not only a strong material but also heat resistant and, over many decades, was a material of choice in building products used in the erection of many commercial and residential properties, schools and office blocks being a common example. Asbestos fibres can commonly be found in ceiling tiles, textile products and cements.

Following decades of doubt, it became confirmed around the 1960s how poisonous and harmful asbestos was to people, with the inhalation of fibres over a long period of time causing serious illness and cancers, in particular mesothelioma. As such, the costly and consuming eradication process to try to remove asbestos from buildings by renovation or demolition began. However, a further risk which was not so obvious was the combination of asbestos fibres with water leaks.

Schools, in particular older schools, are more likely to have asbestos fibres in the building foundations, particularly in the roofs, ceilings and walls where asbestos lagging may have been utilised, as well as the asbestos based cements which are also water resistant.

If you have a water leak within the building’s framework that is seeping through the ceiling and walls, the water will contain these long hidden asbestos fibres, contaminating the walls and floors. Once the water dries, the fibres will become loose and create an airborne health hazard to be inhaled by all. This could have been happening in buildings for years and previously there was no way to identify the risk. Even now, the presence of asbestos can only be confirmed by way of laboratory testing. However, if the leak is identified and repaired, the process may more than likely identify the presence of asbestos and allow renovation works to take place.

The problem faced with buildings as large as schools is how to identify a leak. The pipes will run throughout the entire complex and many will be invisible to the human eye. Fortunately, new innovative technology has now been produced which can detect damp patches and water leaks through physical inspection or by installing sensors into your pipework system, alerting you to the presence of escaping or leaking water. By using this system to help you manage water issues, you will be splitting this lethal duo and affording you an opportunity to identify and remove the problem for good.

For information on how we can help if you suspect a leak, consult LeakDTech’s professionals now!