The Role of Corrosion Inhibitors and Applications for Concrete Repair

The need to extend building longevity is universal, and society has created vast skylines and massive concrete structures that are seemingly impermeable and able to withstand whatever forces Mother Nature can dish out. But there’s a reality to the biggest concrete assets; concrete—even when it seems perfect—is subject to risk through the introduction of ions and contaminants that move through the micropores in the material and lead to corrosion of reinforcing steel rebar. The right strategy for extending concrete longevity must begin with preventing the degradation of the metals contained within it that add to its tensile strength. That is where corrosion inhibitors become vital to building management, and as reported by Kathy Riggs Larsen of Materials Performance, “To control and remediate rebar corrosion in new and existing concrete structures, multiple methods are available. These range from changing the concrete’s cement chemistry to using corrosion inhibiting techniques such as pozzolanic cement, surface sealers, corrosion inhibitor admixtures, cathodic protection, and surface-applied corrosion inhibitors.” But to understand how the different approaches to corrosion inhibitors work, it’s first important to understand how corrosion occurs and its real impact on the future and integrity of your concrete structures.

How Does Concrete Corrosion Occur?

Concrete corrosion refers to the degradation of reinforcing steel within a structure. As the importance of corrosion inhibition has increased, more companies have prioritized this area during the design phase of building assets. However, corrosion is inevitable. It is accelerated by harsh environments, including those with extreme temperatures or high salt levels. Furthermore, concrete corrosion is comparable to cancer, gradually spreading throughout a concrete structure and often invisible until cracks form on the surface.

It affects buildings and structures around the globe, and it usually begins with an improper pH balance on reinforcing steel rods. Now, concrete usually forms a film on the surface of steel rods that prevents corrosion, but with time, degradation of the concrete may lead to the exposure of additional materials, including water, chlorides, and other salts that result in the degradation of this passive film.

Carbonation is another catalyst of corrosion. Carbonation results when carbon dioxide dissolves within concrete pore fluids. This reaction is inevitable, created by the natural presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The reaction forms carbonic acid that then reacts with materials in the cement paste to create calcium carbonate. 

While this may not necessarily seem like a major issue, it effectively lowers the total pH of the concrete. And since the passive film on the steel rebar depends on a highly alkaline environment to maintain its integrity, the rebar becomes more susceptible to the effects of moisture and ions in the environment. As a result, the rebar begins to react to other contaminants, like oxygen, salts and water, producing damaging results. 

It’s at this point when degradation begins to affect the reinforcing steel. It’s the presence of oxygen and moisture that result in rusting, which is where the true cause of concrete degradation begins to grow.

Rusting steel rebar expands due to the chemical changes within it. The expansion is up to six times greater than the original volume occupied by the intact rebar. As a result, this forces an expansion within the concrete that will slowly crack and open the door to additional means of entry for water, salts and oxygen. The problem becomes self-propagating, weakening the concrete infrastructure and leading to spalling. Furthermore, this is a process that takes years to occur, and by the time it becomes evident, the problem is vast and much more severe than many realize.

What Is a Corrosion Inhibitor?

Left unchecked, corrosion of steel within concrete reinforcing structures will lead to massive costs for your company and may require complete replacement. However, the use of corrosion control, leveraging inhibitors for corrosion, early in the design and throughout the maintenance program of your building is the best way to extend the life of your concrete assets. A typical approach to repairing concrete that has cracked is to remove the damaged sections, replace the rebar and patch where needed. This helps to reduce the advancing of oxygen, water or salts into the concrete. Therefore, it is best to use a corrosion inhibitor in tandem with a waterproof seal to prevent exposure of rebar to the elements. 

There are also products manufactured specifically to reduce the risk of chloride ions from coming into contact with reinforcing steel and even modifying the concrete mixture to increase its impermeability. Essentially, waterproofed concrete means little risk for entry of corrosive agents. However, highly corrosive environments, like the salt-laced winds along coastlines, require a specialized approach to preventing degradation.

This includes materials applied directly to rebar to increase the strength of the passive film on the metal, leveraging chemical agents to mix with concrete that will help to strengthen that film and even increase the electrical resistance of the metallic surface of rebar. Obviously, early protection at the time of design and construction is preferred. However, repairing damaged concrete and sealing cracks with corrosion-inhibiting materials is necessary when spalling or other signs of degradation appear.

A few examples of companies that manufacture concrete corrosion inhibitors are Cortec, Degussa, Sika, and Masterbuilders. However, there are always differences in product specifications and formulation. Thus, it’s important to have a quality engineer evaluate the unique structures and concrete requirements prior to selecting a product. This ensures that the chosen inhibitor will serve its purpose the best and avoid future repairs or failure. 

Another way to approach corrosion prevention is through electrochemical means, using both anodic and cathodic materials. These electrochemical means are usually found in concrete applications that are subject to continuous exposure to different liquids, such as the holding tanks in sewage or water treatment plants. 

Such applications require a means for managing the flow of electrons associated with certain ions, like those of salts, and rendering them inert. Other options for adding the electrochemical protection include an impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) that can effectively stop spalling and prevent further damage to rebar. 

Both still require a power supply, even if temporary, and cables to supply power to the anodes/cathodes. As a result, it creates an added expense and complicates the process of preventing corrosion. Of course, this is a permanent solution that requires the proper selection of both anodes and cathodes, as well as in-depth specifications for current strength, to cause ions to move away from rebar and effectively prevents future oxidation (rusting) of the steel. However, this is perhaps the costliest approach to corrosion prevention other than total replacement due to the added equipment it entails. 

Thus, working with a chemical-based inhibitor for concrete that leverages an applied material or chemical additive within a concrete mix is usually preferred. For reference, here are some of the most common admixtures used that may be referenced in engineer repair specifications:

  • Amine carboxylate
  • Amine-ester organic emulsion
  • Calcium nitrite
  • Organic alkenyl dicarboxylic acid salt

There are also materials that can be applied directly to the surface of the concrete to provide corrosion resistance to rebar. Ironically, this method takes advantage of slightly porous concrete to provide a way for such materials to penetrate concrete and restore the integrity of the passive film on the surface of rebar. In a sense, these corrosion prevention materials take on a dual-purpose with waterproofing as well.

What to Consider When Choosing a Concrete Inhibitor or Sealer

Waterproofing membranes are perhaps the overlooked side of concrete repair and damage prevention strategies. While focusing on corrosion inhibitors is great, the waterproofing membrane that’s applied to the surface of the concrete is the first line of defense against the penetration of corrosion-inducing materials. Furthermore, the waterproof seal on the surface of concrete actually serves a purpose in inhibitors for concrete too. As explained by Adhesives & Sealants Industry (ASI), “Concrete sealers come with a variety of different features. The most basic function is to protect against the ingress of moisture, carbonation, and other potentially damaging elements. Others add stain resistance or corrosion inhibition.

Inhibiting corrosion is especially needed in applications where there is exposure to sea air with elevated humidity and chloride levels or in northern climates where there is a need for deicers. 

As cities, counties, and states that experience harsh winters are switching to liquid deicing brines instead of granular ones, more chlorides are entering concrete surfaces at a faster rate than ever. This trend is accelerating damage due to freeze-thaw cycles and the corrosion of reinforcing steel, leading to the heightened need for sealers with corrosion inhibitors.” 

To ensure your team chooses the right sealant or other admixture for preventing corrosion, it’s important to take a few considerations into account. These include:

  • Liquid vs. powdered corrosion inhibitors. Depending on the scale and specifications of the repair, a liquid or powdered corrosion inhibitor may be appropriate. Of course, both materials are usually mixed with concrete or grouting materials to fill cracks and damage. Regardless, the key is to ensure your team can store and transport the materials properly based on their liquid or powdered state. 
  • Substrate integrity and extensivity of water penetration. Another critical consideration is the extent of damage to the substrate. If excessive water penetration has occurred, a corrosion inhibitor may need to be sprayed directly onto the replaced rebar prior and allowed to set prior to completing the repair. 
  • Setting time and weather conditions necessary for application. Like all types of concrete repairs, the setting time and weather conditions will affect the efficacy of corrosion inhibitors, so planning is critical for ensuring the products work as expected. 
  • Effective against carbonation and chlorides. Given that carbonation and chloride are two of the primary causes of corrosion, it’s important to choose your inhibitors for corrosion based on the conditions that the concrete is subjected to. This may include corrosion inhibitors against both or one type of corrosion agent.
  • Ease of application and reapplication expectations. It’s always important to think about the future repairs and whether corrosion inhibitors will require reapplication. This is especially true when looking at corrosion inhibitors applied directly to the exposed surface of concrete, taking all above considerations into account along the way.  
  • Other specifications of the repair as determined by the engineer. Even if everything looks great, the most important consideration when selecting an inhibitor is how well it aligns with engineer specifications for the repair. Fortunately, the engineer will usually specify the specific chemical and physical components of each inhibitor to eliminate all uncertainty. 

Advantages of Corrosion Inhibitors in Concrete Repair

The advantages of using corrosion inhibitors for concrete repair are very easy to understand and include:

  • Less spalling and fewer repairs. As rebar remains strong, the concrete is less likely to become subject to damage, resulting in lower total maintenance costs, provided the proper waterproofing barrier and surface corrosion inhibitors for concrete are used. This effectively prevents the further degradation of steel and concrete structures too.
  • Ability to target multiple causes of degradation. While some buildings may be subject to more of a specific type of corrosion-causing material, there are some that will always be present, such as carbonation. As a result, a core advantage of using an inhibitor is targeting multiple causes of degradation and corrosion in the same repair. Furthermore, the corrosion inhibitor admixtures can also offer increased adhesion between substrates to increase the impermeability of the concrete and prevent future corrosion.

Extend the Longevity of Your Concrete Assets by Partnering With an Expert in Concrete Repair and Maintenance

While seemingly the strongest building material, concrete is actually a protective covering for the real strength of a building—its rebar reinforcements. Without that reinforcement, concrete will inevitably fail and even worse, the rebar itself can cause untold damage to your concrete structures if left unchecked. As a result, it’s important to extend the longevity of your building assets by choosing a top-quality partner for handling concrete repairs, corrosion prevention programs, and all other maintenance needs.

Connect with EDSWaterProofing to request a consultation to remedy damaged concrete and prevent corrosion of reinforcing steel today.

waterproofing membranes

What Are Waterproofing Membranes, the Types, and Applications?

When a building shows signs of water damage, waterproofing membranes can provide an easy and cost-effective fix. Waterproofing has different variables and steps to ensure the best integrity and longevity for your building and the people inside. Unfortunately, failures within the waterproofing membrane can have a disastrous effect on the integrity of your building’s structure, lead to health risks for building occupants, and increase total cost of ownership. Meanwhile,  having knowledge of the types of membranes, application methods, and how to choose a service provider can make the process even easier. Let’s take an in-depth look at these key things to know about waterproofing membranes, including:

  • The fundamentals of waterproofing membranes, the value in the modern building.
  • The value of waterproofing membranes in maintaining your assets. 
  • The differences between various membrane materials, including chemical vs physical, sheet membranes.
  • How to approach selecting a membrane material and a few best practices for ensuring its proper application.

I. What Are Waterproofing Membranes

A waterproofing membrane is a layer of water-tight material that lies on a surface to prevent water leaks or damages. The process usually consists of liquid-applied or pre-formed sheet membranes. According to Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York, “The global waterproofing membrane market size is set to gain momentum from the increasing investments by renowned companies in the development of eco-friendly products for green buildings, as conventional membranes can cause harm to the environment by releasing toxic chemicals. The report further states that the market stood at USD 27.17 billion in 2020. It is projected to grow from USD 28.05 billion in 2021 to USD 42.85 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 6.2% during the forecast period.” 

II. Why Is It Important?

The objective of waterproofing is to secure a building from all kinds of water damages and prevent further repair work on the structure. Excess water exposure can enlarge the foundation cracks and joints, leading to issues with leakage, deterioration, and spalling that will require repairs. Before water damage leads to bigger issues in a building, waterproofing can provide:

  • Safety: Damage due to a lack of waterproofing can be so severe that it impacts the integrity of the building, resulting in an unsafe environment.
  • A way to strengthen the structure: Waterproofing membranes prolong the lifespan of a building by limiting any moisture that may intrude and cause rust, rotting, corrosion, structural defects, or other damage to property and contents.
  • A healthier environment: Waterproofing can help provide a space that is well-maintained and protected from different elements. The buildup on the walls and ceilings can cause fungus and mold growth, leading to allergies and health issues. 
  • A way to reduce maintenance costs and increase property value: Quality waterproofing — done right the first time — will safeguard property from water damage and limit the need for costly repairs or maintenance services. 

Fixing water damage before it becomes a greater issue is extremely important. As further explained in relation to the movements of air within materials, Energy Saver said “air movement accounts for more than 98% of all water vapor movement in building cavities. Air naturally moves from high-pressure areas to lower pressure areas by the easiest path available — generally through any available hole or crack in the building envelope. Moisture transfer by air currents happens quickly, and carefully and permanently air sealing any unintended paths for air movement in and out of the house is a very effective moisture control strategy.” Waterproofing can fill the paths for such air movements and stop water vapor from causing more harm to the building structure. This is particularly vital in terms of keeping building occupants safe from airborne pathogens.

As the CDC explains: “Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.  We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.”

Considering that many of these materials are basic construction materials, any water entry, even in vapor form (such as humidity), could lead to an added risk of mold growth. In the case of commercial buildings, such factors essentially open your business to the liability of illnesses associated with these pathogens. Furthermore, the CDC notes how there is evidence to suggest that deterioration of work and living environments due to mold spore exposure can lead to memory loss, lethargy, and more. And in commercial buildings, this amounts to less productive workers and even worsening customer experiences. It’s for these reasons that a proper waterproofing envelope protects against water in any phase, whether liquid, solid (ice) or gas (humidity), is critical.

III. The Difference Between the Membranes & Key Aspects to Selecting a Waterproofing Membrane Type.

Different buildings will require different types of waterproofing membranes to ensure no water damage will continue. Waterproofing membranes can help protect any building;  basement or roof membranes can help prevent water damage from happening. This long-term decision can save building structures from potentially costly consequences such as joint problems and cracking. Moreover, the type of membrane may either be chemical and liquid upon application or be made up of multiple layers of prefabricated sheet membranes. 

As further noted by Raja Haria via LinkedIn: “Liquid Applied Waterproofing is a process of waterproofing application using special liquid. It’s used for roofs like flat roofs, pitched roofs, domed roofs and walls also. A liquid applied membrane involves Fully bonded monolithic coating application. This coating, once cured, forms a rubber-like elastomeric waterproofing membrane. Liquid applied membranes are flexible enough to take any shape they are laid to, also they have properties like strength, tear resistance, weathering resistance, UV stability & elasticity to bridge the cracks developed underneath the surface.” 

Of course, that only begins to scratch the surface of the true scale and variety within waterproofing membrane options.

The different types of waterproofing membranes consist of the following primary materials.

1. Self-Adhesive Modified Bituminous Membrane

Self-adhesive modified bituminous membranes are composed of asphalt, polymers, and tackifiers, and may contain mineral stabilizers. The product may be reinforced with fiberglass, polyester, or a combination of the two. Products designed for exposure to the elements typically will be surfaced with mineral granules, coatings, films, or other opaque surfacing.

2. Polymer-Modified Bitumen Membrane

The most widespread materials for the creation of the waterproofing layer are the polymer-bitumen roll-fed sheet membranes. These materials could also be used as an underlay for pitched roofs and as a vapor barrier.

3. EPDM Membrane

It is a preformed elastomeric waterproofing membrane made of high-quality EPDM rubber. It exhibits high tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, and resistance to weathering, heat aging, ozone, UV rays, acids, alkalis, and oxygenated solvents. 

4. Thermoplastic Membrane

Thermoplastic roof membranes are distinct from other commercial roofing systems. It is a blend of polypropylene, ethylene-propylene and is often reinforced with polyester. Sheets of TPO can contain UV absorbers, colorants, flame retardants, or other add-ins to achieve the required physical properties. 

5. Bituminous Membrane (Asphalt)

Hot melt liquid bituminous rubber blend structural waterproofing systems with an interlaid reinforcement can be used in roof and podium deck applications to provide a seamless waterproofing membrane for high green roofs and podiums, and are sometimes specified for winter applications where low temperatures are common. 

6. Polyurethane Membrane

These products come with a fiber-enhanced, water-based polyurethane membrane that has been designed for a range of waterproofing applications where the membrane is to be covered with tiles, screeds, concrete beds, and more. These membranes offer excellent adhesion properties for use on building substrates, including concrete, masonry, renders, cement sheeting, wet area sheet surfaces, and plasterboard surfaces.

7. Chemical Grouting to Seal Cement Structures

Hydrophilic chemical grouts have flexibility and resilience after full cure. This will allow movement to occur in the structure without damaging the seal. Hydrophobic resins are rigid after curing and do not recover from compression. If the structure moves, there is a good chance the cell structure will be damaged and leaks will reappear. Hydrophobic chemical grout is low viscosity and permeates loose and non-consolidated soils readily.

IV. Application Process for Waterproofing Membranes

Regardless of the scale, size, location, or type of building, waterproofing membranes provide an essential component to protect the structural integrity of a building. The longer a leak is allowed to progress unchecked, the more extensive the underlying deterioration can become. Stopping a minor leak is far easier than rehabilitating the damage resulting from a major one.

Thorough Inspection of the Materials Used and Prior Membranes

Noting how the building responds to weather events and temperature fluctuations can affect the building materials used. Inspect the prior membrane used and see how the weather affected it or what problems continued to happen. Then, form a game plan to determine which type of membrane to use.

Cleaning of the Area

Preparation requirements vary by the type of material used and the application methods. Make sure the surface and materials are well-prepared and ready for membrane application. Cleaning provides for good adhesion to the substrate. Also, the manufacturer’s guidelines include instructions for cleaning the substrate to remove dirt, debris, and other surface contaminants. 

Application of the Chosen Material 

Waterproofing membranes generally consist of liquid applied or preformed sheets. Liquid-applied membranes must have the correct thickness or installation errors will occur. For sheet membranes, joints between sheets are critical and must have a perfect application to avoid leakage.

Complications to Watch for During the Application Process

If any complications pop up during the waterproofing process, the membrane will not work properly and therefore will not solve the leakage. A few examples of installation errors to look for:

  • Poor workmanship can result in improper application or the wrong waterproofing membrane being used. confusing
  • Excessive thickness may result in re-emulsification and splitting while the membrane cures. 
  • Uneven film thickness during the application process, thicker coats restrict movement and thinner coats can result in tears under minimal movement.
  • Coating materials must be abrasive, resistant, and accommodate the building movement. Any thin spots, weak points, or high spots can result in excessive wear, forming ruptures and blisters.
  •  If the waterproofing is applied prior to the completion of the structural elements, it may prompt negative effects such as deflections or other imperfections in the waterproofing.

Destructive Testing to Ensure Its Integrity 

Destructive testing can confirm a successful installation and determine if water leaks will continue to cause issues. This is the literal process of attempting to remove the material, apply water to it, and rigorously ensure the seal is working properly. 

Routine Maintenance & Inspection to Keep It in Tip-Top Shape

Keeping up with maintenance can prevent damages from happening again and once again verify that the installation was done correctly. In other words, maintenance and inspection are critical. And checking for signs of installation failure can save the building from costly future repairs. No crack, stain, or visual cue should go without proper inspection to make sure water damage has not come back. 

V. After Application and The Role of Inspection in Maintaining the Membrane

After waterproofing takes place, certain steps can prevent recurring water damage and will not require further work. Closely monitoring the building and inspecting the membrane can ensure the water leak has stopped. 

Constantly monitoring the membranes and looking for future signs of leakage can prevent the need for replacements. Pay close attention to signs that may indicate deterioration of the waterproofing membrane, such as staining and cracks; most problems have visual cues when water damage happens. 

VI. How to Select a Waterproofing Service Provider 

Effective waterproofing requires an action plan designed to preserve the structural integrity of a building while being cost-effective at the same time. Finding the right professional with the proper expertise will help ensure the job gets done right the first time. Here are some things to consider when selecting a waterproofing contractor:

Company History

A reputable waterproofing service should have an established, verifiable history of satisfied clients. This can help prospective customers learn the expertise level of the company while also checking references or reviews. When checking references, ask about the company’s services, their level of professionalism, the quality of the work, and the availability of follow-up support once the job was complete.

Awards & Certificates

This can show companies that excel in the industry and showcase the talent and ability to provide quality customer service. This can also go back to the company history and show the service goes above and beyond the bare minimum. 

Licensed and Bonded

Make sure the company has proper licensing for the area and has the correct liability insurance. Many of the warranties on the products used by waterproofing companies may cancel out if not installed by a certified professional waterproofing contractor.

Written Contracts

Contracts can protect the customer and the contractor. Every contract should provide details of the proposed work, an estimate for the time it will take to perform the job, and the estimated cost. Before the job begins, ensure any guarantees and warranties have been documented in writing.

Prioritizes Safety 

The contractor should take the proper steps to ensure the safety of their team, the customer and the property itself. The equipment and machines needed for waterproofing require skill to operate and come with a level of risk. Choosing a waterproofing team that prioritizes safety should always be of great importance, and doing so can prevent delays, mistakes, and unnecessary costs.

Offers Inspection Services

A professional contractor should have the option of conducting an inspection whenever water damage becomes apparent. A skilled waterproofing company should have the knowledge to pinpoint the source of the water and take the appropriate action to resolve the issue. Having the proper skill set is essential to ensuring that the issue can be resolved whether from the interior or exterior of the building.

Understands the Various Waterproofing Materials

Some of the more common signs of water damage in a building are more obvious. These include peeling paint, damp spots on basement walls, and rust on tools or appliances. However, some less obvious signs may be harder to identify such as cracks in walls, an unusual odor, or the presence of a chalky white substance on the walls. Choose a contractor that knows how to carefully inspect the entire area in order to address potential problems and know the proper solution.

Guarantees: Will Repair the Membrane If It Fails Prematurely

Ensure the contractor will come back if additional membrane service is needed. This will save the customer from having to pay a second time when the first service should have worked. Having this claim in writing can make sure the contractor will hold up their end of the bargain if the time comes. 

The Big Picture: Waterproofing Is Vital to Your Business and Building Integrity

To save a commercial building from water leaks and damages while ensuring maximum integrity, waterproofing can provide the best answer. According to RJ Lometa of Vents Magazine, “Lack of waterproofing measures leads to increased risks in building integrity! Today, many urban construction projects are adversely affected because of this. Often building structural failures are an off-shoot of weak waterproofing measures.” The presentation and integrity of a building hold just as much value as the people in it.

Ensure the Best Waterproofing Service Provided

Keeping up with the maintenance of a building can add stress to any manager or employee. Waterproofing helps building managers stay a step ahead of the mess. To prevent future damage and improve the integrity of your building’s waterproof envelope, contact EDS

cement grout

What is Cement, Concrete & Chemical Grouting and its Role in Building Waterproofing?

After finding cracks and leaks within a building, taking the proper steps to save the structure and costs is critical. When companies begin to look into waterproofing services to ensure the concrete strength of the building, questions may arise like what is chemical grouting? What does pressure chemical grouting have to do with the process? Knowing the background of waterproofing and what the service pertains to will help you choose the best company for the job. Understanding the differences between cement, concrete, and chemical grouting, and knowing the importance of grouting and what to expect in building waterproofing services, can provide insight that will help you save the structure of any building. 

What Is Cement, Concrete, and Chemical Grouting?

When a structure requires concrete restoration, grouting can be used to repair concrete cracks, fill seams and gaps in tiles, gaps for sealing and waterproofing, and for soil stabilization. Cement grouting with pressure is injected to fill voids or fractures in the soil, rock unit, or concrete structure. Looking at the chemical grouting specifications, the chemical grouting transforms granular soils into sandstone-like masses by filling the voids with low viscosity, non-particulate grout. An example TunnelingOnline uses to describe when to use chemical or cement grout, “For example, Portland and ultrafine cement grouts are predominantly used to stabilize soil and/or control water in civil projects, including earthen dams, levees, mines, tunnels, subways, vertical shafts, below-ground structures or waste encapsulation. These types of large-scale projects will often require significant volumes of grout to be injected. Chemical grouts will often complement the cement-type grouts and in some cases will be the predominant grout used for a particular situation.” 

Why Grouting Is Important to Maintaining the Whole Building Envelope

Once the building envelope has obtained moisture, waterproofing must become a priority for building owners and managers. Having a preventative approach can save money in the long run to avoid a full-scale removal and replacement. It is important to take important steps to mitigate the problems early. For example, every five to eight years, have the building’s waterproofing service redone. 

Grouting offers several advantages:

  • Grouting does not induce vibration, which can be controlled to avoid structural damage.
  • Grouting can help control seepage, groundwater flow, and hazardous waste materials.
  • Pointing out areas for repair and periodic check-ups, which can help with budget planning.
  • Grouting and keeping up with inspections positions owners to plan capital expenditures effectively. 
  • Grouting can resolve the issues of cracks and stains, rather than just painting over the real problem. 

According to GrandviewResearch, “The building structures application segment is expected to expand at the fastest growth rate of 8.4%, in terms of revenue, over the forecast period. The growth is attributed due to its high application in building to improve the shelf life and protection at varying temperatures.” This segment indicates the importance of prioritizing the structure of the building and using waterproofing now rather than later as the market becomes more expensive. 

Common Causes of Grouting Failure

Waterproofing can save the structure of a building and preserve its value, but what happens when poor waterproofing service occurs? Taking the time to do a water leak investigation can help identify where the critical issues lie. Any issues in waterproofing may happen due to:

  • Issues from higher levels: In multi-level buildings, the higher floors may be more susceptible to waterproofing issues. For example, the top floors can experience problems with puddles forming on the roof from rainwater. Flat roofs especially frequently collect excessive rain that can lead to leaks and eventually damage to the structure of the building. On higher floors, poor workmanship with plumbing can also lead to waterproofing failures.
  • Poor waterproofing work: Incorrect installation or poor workmanship of waterproofing can cause issues. Places that are trickier, such as balconies and windows, require professional waterproofing services. Additionally, wrong product specifications can result in insufficient substrate preparation, meaning the preparation before the waterproofing membrane was incorrect.
  • Lack of maintenance: Continuing to check waterproofing areas on a regular basis will help identify any problems early, avoiding significant issues like concrete cancer. Tiny leaks, cracks, and stains should be a priority for immediate remedial steps.. Maintaining seals on windows, doors, wall systems, balconies, and roofs can provide time to formulate a proactive approach that decreases the risk of a developing issue. 
  •  Incorrect waterproofing membrane: Make sure to choose a waterproofing system that includes a sheet membrane with all the ancillaries. Also, consider the flexibility of the membrane to allow building movements and to resist UV rays, chemicals, harsh salt air, and in some situations root penetration.

Poor waterproofing can fail, leading to cracks, mold issues, and structural defects that can have a high price tag to fix. Additionally, poor waterproofing can cause safety issues, significantly reduce the property value, and lead to unfitness for occupation. Partnering with a waterproofing and sealant services provider that ensures optimal solutions can remedy the problem. 

What to Expect in Grouting Maintenance

To obtain a great remedial waterproofing outcome from grouting, find a professional you can trust. Taking important steps to having frequent updates on the structure of the building can save costs down the road. Here are a few steps to take to ensure the proper maintenance that will reduce the risk of bigger issues:

  • Perform an annual or biannual walkthrough to examine the overall condition of the exterior wall system.
  • Remove or replace sealants that appear to be torn, deteriorated, or inelastic.
  • Remove plant growth that can contribute to moisture penetration or deterioration of any brickwork.
  • Install remedial anchors and ties in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
  • Repoint with prehydrated mortar, mixed drier than conventional masonry work.
  • When repairing mortar joints, surface grout hairline cracks and repoint damaged or deteriorating mortar joints.

Paying attention to the maintenance of the building, never dismissing cracks, and taking notice of any visual discrepancies like water damage can preserve the building. Maintenance and performing minor repairs can help avoid replacement and the need for drastic projects.

How to Pick the Right Waterproofing Service

To prevent a water problem and resolve issues associated with a faulty structure, a good waterproofing company can help. According to VentsMagazine, “Water damages can lead to massive problems in the building’s appearance and structure. It will affect the building surface and also lead to security and health issues for the members inhabiting the building.” Upon deciding to waterproof, the next important factor is finding a partner you can trust A few tips to help pick the best company for building maintenance services can include:

  • Ensure the company has the proper paperwork and permits for the job, such as insurance, bonding, or licenses. Bonding will ensure the costs of any risks or accidents will be covered.
  • Find a company that specializes in waterproofing structures.  
  • Ensure the company has the necessary infrastructure to complete the job. This will help ensure quality and reliability.
  • Hire an experienced company, one that has a documented history of success.
  • Due diligence should extend to reading online reviews of the company. This can help you eliminate companies that have a less-than-stellar reputation.

Properly protecting a building from different kinds of water damages, such as leaks, moisture, and rain, can help retain its structural integrity and value. Without waterproofing, the foundation of the structure may suffer and force cracks and joints to become bigger. Stay up to date regarding local building codes and reviews of companies, especially for high-rise buildings, and preserve the time spent on designing, planning, and building the structure.

Guarantee Building Integrity With Expertise in Building Waterproofing. 

Having more concrete background knowledge on waterproofing and the aspects of the service can help you make an informed decision when choosing the best company to trust. Waterproofing failure can have a drastic impact on a building’s safety and value but it does not have to. Following the tips above and keeping a close eye on the maintenance of the building can lead to fewer long-term damages. To keep water leaks and other potentially costly issues from happening, enlist the professional waterproofing and sealing services offered by the EDS & JOBS Group.

High Rise Window Cleaning

A Comprehensive Guide to Skyscraper or High Rise Window Cleaning System

Skyscrapers with sparkling glass windows can give the skyline and any business an elegant look, but how do they clean windows on skyscrapers? To keep the windows pristine, high-rise window washers take the time and follow the proper safety measures to scale up the side of the building and clean the glass. Snow, smog, debris, bird droppings, rain, and sometimes even food can leave an industrial building’s appearance looking messy and unkempt. With the proper climbing and safety tools, high-rise window cleaning can provide a better appearance for the building and windows, resulting in a building that projects a high-quality aesthetic.

A Primer on the High Rise Window Cleaning Industry

The Industry Is Recovering

The high-rise window washing industry continues to gain momentum after a 5.2% decline in activity in 2020 due to Covid and other disruptions. As the industry of skyscrapers grows and society slowly returns to normal after dealing with the pandemic for almost two years, there is a 2.2% annualized rate, including an increase of 6.9% in 2021 alone. This upward trend indicates that more buildings will need high-rise window washers. As the recovery process continues, more people will look to join the industry. As of this writing, the industry has employment of 123,000+ workers with 40,000+ businesses receiving service. Those numbers are not exact, due to how the US Bureau of Labor Statistics combines window washers and all janitorial services into one category. Thus, sources vary widely on the exact number of workers and growth rates in each group. 

Safety Is a Top Priority, Resulting in a Massive Decline in Fatalities Over Recent Decades

There was a time when the high-rise window washing resulted in many, many fatalities, and this is due to old ways of approaching safety. Today, safety takes a top priority when scheduling any high-rise services, and the emphasis on safety has resulted in the risk of fatalities declining over time. However, that lower risk is not an excuse to forgo proper training and experience when looking for a high-rise building services provider.  

Seasonal Change Also Influences Demand for High rise Window Cleaning.

There are many factors that contribute to making it more difficult for high-rise window cleaning, including seasonal-related concerns and fluctuating demand for services. Wind alone causes issues for high-rise window washers. Now consider how hurricane season will influence the demand for services; still, professionals must take care when cleaning windows. Meanwhile, heat waves and periods of extreme precipitation can also affect the demand for window cleaners, due to the safety issues and added difficulty of reaching the actual windows. A heatwave increases the potential risk of heat stroke or dehydration because workers have no shade while suspended or on the platform. 

FAQs About High Rise Window-Cleaning

Seeing window washers high in the air on the side of a building can raise some questions about the job, such as how much is a skyscraper window cleaner paid, or what is the average salary for a skyscraper window cleaner? Most business owners of high-rise buildings and glass-front offices choose to outsource window cleaning to professional services to save a considerable amount of time and effort. Window cleaning requires specific skills and training, and anyone scaling a building must make safety the top priority. Looking into the window cleaning business can raise questions as to exactly how the process is done and how much risk is involved. 

How Often Do High Rise Windows Need Cleaning?

To determine how often a building requires cleaning will depend on the type of businesses in the building, the surrounding environment, the amount of foot traffic within the building, and whether smoking is permitted inside the building. In addition, if a building is a clean, non-smoking office space that is located on a clean street, the windows will require cleaning less frequently. However, the windows will need more frequent attention if the building is:

  • For industrial work or a medical facility.
  • Subjected to a larger amount of foot traffic
  • Located on a busy street or near a large body of water
  • Subjected to frequent smog or avian visitors.

An example of a building that requires window washing more frequently is the Empire State Building in New York City, where the windows open and employees on higher floors will actually dump food or beverages out the windows.

What Types of Risks Do Window Washers Face with a Tall Building?

Having to scale a building that can reach over 15 meters in height can quickly add a significant risk factor to the job of window washing. Working at higher elevations requires a specific set of skills along with keen instincts (much like those associated with rock climbing) to handle the height with proper mobility and follow the proper safety measures. Aside from the extreme heights and risk of falling, wind can affect the stability of the scaffolding and suspended platforms, which increases the chances of an incident. The scorching sun, heavy precipitation in the form of snow or rain,  lightning, and colder temperatures are all weather conditions that can add difficulty and risk of injury for workers. In the colder months, window washers use cool or lukewarm water because using hot water in lower temperatures may cause the glass to break and possibly cause serious injury. 

How Long Does Cleaning Take?

It all depends on the building, equipment, and the window team’s level of training. Every building presents unique challenges because of its design and every team member brings their own set of skills and experiences to the table as well.  Depending on the tools, equipment, and products used, cleaning can also become more involved and detail-oriented.

Every building window washer has his or her own approach to the job. And naturally, a larger building will take longer than one with fewer floors, fewer windows, and less space to cover. However, the types of cleaning services required can also increase cleaning timelines. More in-depth cleaning may take longer and require specialized high-rise window cleaning gear. Also, checking and repairing seals and waterproofing envelopes may be a more involved process than anticipated.

The best way to get an accurate estimate on how long your building’s cleaning services may take is to discuss it with the window cleaning team. They usually can provide an estimated timeline for completing their work. They will have access to the finest high-rise window cleaning equipment and supplies to ensure the results meet or exceed expectations and standards. Additionally, work can be planned and scheduled so as to make a minimal impact on business operations. 

How Much Do Properly Trained Window Washers Make?

According to a recent survey highlighted on, high-rise window washers in the United States currently can earn an average of around $22 per hour as of August 27, 2021. The normal pay range for general window washing falls between $19 and $27, depending on location, the level of education and training, specializations, and other factors.

Window cleaners might charge less because they have limited experience washing windows or in the building maintenance services industry. Or they may be offering a baseline cleaning service with no additional perks like inspections and leak testing. The high-rise window washing equipment they use can also impact services and rates. Therefore, checking rates and services and looking at more than one provider helps building managers find the best building window washer services for their unique set of needs.

Professional high-rise window washers bring added value to the building maintenance team and are worth their weight in gold. For instance, the Empire State Building, with its 102 floors, takes six men about four months to clean — and once they’re done, the window cleaners must start all over again. The act of window washing is a highly specialized job that requires additional pay.

What Type of Certification Should Window Cleaning Crews Maintain?

To ensure the continued safety of all workers on site, window cleaning crew members must have several critical safety certifications and meet specific training requirements before work can safely begin:

IWCA Certification

The IWCA Safety Certification Program is made up of five essential training focuses that keep window washers safe: Route/Residential, Commercial Ground, Rope Descent Systems, Suspended Scaffold, and High Rise Specialist. Window cleaners who receive certification complete all courses, during which they learn about the safe use of basic window cleaning equipment and chemicals, as well as the safe completion of more complicated and hazardous high-rise cleaning services. This comes together to ensure the safety of both workers, occupants, and street-level passersby when window washing high-rise buildings.

OSHA 1910 Training

For any team member whose job requires working in an area where there is a higher risk of falls, the employer is required to provide proper professional training and safety certification for each employee before any work commences. Certifications include the use of equipment, proper inspection and maintenance of equipment, utilization of PPE and safety equipment, hazard identification and mitigation, and proper safety reporting protocols. All high-rise window washers must have this training and certification(s).

IRATA/SPRATA Certification

The Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) are internationally recognized standards when it comes to rope-related work and safety protocols. Certification is attained by completing a 4-day course and passing both a written and hands-on test. The grading parameters for both tests constitute a simple pass or fail. Failure to pass the building window washer tests means no certification and the course must be retaken.

Working with a trained and experienced professional makes it easy to get the best services and answers to all your questions, such as how often do skyscraper windows get cleaned, how much should I pay for window washing services, and do I have to provide the high rise building glass cleaning equipment myself?

The High Rise Building Glass Cleaning Equipment Needed for Window Cleaning

As with any job, producing professional results requires using professional-grade tools and equipment. For commercial building window washers, three are three main categories of tools that make their jobs safer and easier. Together, high-rise window washing equipment and quality high-rise window cleaning gear enable these individuals to do the best possible job. Here are a few examples of the common skyscraper window washing equipment utilized for these aerial feats:

Climbing Tools

Skyscraper window cleaners utilize these tools to navigate a building’s exterior:

  • Movable platform: While fixed scaffolds can be useful for short buildings of only a few stories, a high-rise window cleaning platform allows window washers to access higher windows while keeping them safe and secure. The platforms can be automatic with an electric motor to power them or they can be moved by hand. This is the most common way for high-rise window washers to move about the building.
  • Bosun’s chair: If the window washer is not standing on the platform, they typically use a bosun’s chair. This is a one-person-sized platform where the window washer can sit as they are moved along the exterior of the building. Often there are hooks and attachments for the bucket and other tools, so they are easily and safely accessible.

Cleaning Tools

High rise window cleaners typically use these kinds of cleaning tools with most jobs:

  • Toolbelt: Keeping vital tools and accessories within easy reach helps window washers stay efficient and it also keeps them safe while they work.
  • Bucket: The bucket holds whatever cleaning solution is being used on the windows, whether it is a simple soap-and-water mix or a solution with ammonia mixed in.
  • Sponge or T-bar wand: Window cleaners often gravitate toward one of these two tools to get the window wet with the cleaning solution.
  • Squeegee: A window cleaners’ best friend, squeegees are used to wipe the dirty water away—and it is key to getting a clean, clear, and streak-free window.
  • Glass scraper: The glass scraper often comes in handy as it allows window washers to easily remove caked-on dirt and grime, such as bird droppings or tree sap.
  • Towels: Rags and towels can help remove any remaining drops from the squeegee and are useful for buffing and final polishing of the windows.
  • Spare accessories: The bars of the squeegee and other components of common tools can wear down over time, so having a few spares on hand is always good.

Safety Tools

All building window washers use different safety tools during their work as well:

  • Safety belt or harness: This is one of the most critical pieces of gear a window washer can have. If the platform falls, the safety harness is set up to be attached to the building itself to prevent them from falling.
  • Protective gloves: Window cleaning is a wet and messy business. Gloves will protect against possible skin irritation from the cleaning supplies and from the wear and tear of repetitive movements. Most professional washers also wear gloves that help protect against frostbite when working in cold and windy conditions.

Additional High Rise Services That Accompany Window Cleaning

Often, window washers are doing more than simply throwing soapy water at windows. It takes a lot to get someone up on the side of a high-rise office building or skyscraper. Making the most of that time is critical, so many window washers also work as frontline inspectors as they work. Here are just a few of the other jobs that a window washer may do during their time up in the air:

  • Building Envelope Inspection. Visual checks for obvious damage are a given when someone will be getting that close to every window in the building. Window washers can check seals, the facade, and window casings for signs of wear-and-tear damage.
  • Painting and Metal Refinishing. Every building will need some occasional advanced cleaning and touch-up work. Routine cleanings are an excellent time to make note of faded paint or rusty areas that need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
  • Minimal Facade Repairs. Small cracks and chips can often be treated with some caulking and a well-applied patch. At times, the window washers themselves will be trained to do these minimal repairs using high-rise window cleaning equipment.
  • Temporary Waterproofing. When leaks and problem areas are identified, it is often necessary for the window washers to use some sort of temporary waterproofing seal to keep things secure until a more permanent solution can be provided.
  • Penetration Testing. While it is not as commonplace as other secondary services, the window washing crew may be able to perform basic penetration testing. These tests check for water and air movement into the building through cracks.

Benefits of Working With the Right Team for High-Rise Exterior Maintenance

For every business, the importance of presenting a pristine aesthetic appeal is a priority and can leave a lasting impression. This should also extend to the building’s exterior and curb appeal. The ability to immediately scale the outdoor workforce to meet changes in demand, such as during periods of severe weather, like hurricane season, is crucial. Depending on the provider, outsourcing puts all needs in the hands of a single entity. By teaming up with a high-rise exterior maintenance company, you can focus on growing your business on the inside with the customers, with the peace of mind that the exterior is being well cared for as well. 

Extensive Experience in Building Management

Facilities managers can rest assured that the needs for grounds and exterior maintenance will be addressed as planned, and third-party contacts between the building management team and the contractor will increase collaboration. Working with a company with experience can ensure the ability to execute the plan and bring peace of mind that any unplanned maintenance will be handled by a professional.

Integrated Building Services, Including Inspection & Repairs

Staying up to date on services and repairs needed around the building can ensure the building’s structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. Maintaining a building’s finishes such as stone and metal and even waterproofing requires specialty services that only the best can provide. High-rise maintenance systems work best with routine and scheduled services like pressure washing to ensure the proper condition of the exterior. 

A High Focus on Safety to Keep Your Liability in Check

Choosing the best team for exterior maintenance services will help in ensuring and analyzing the safety of the building and even bring in solutions to further improve that safety. For instance, outdoor lighting accents continue to be used as functional design elements along pathways, walkways, and entrances. This helps add a safety element to areas that would otherwise be dark.

Quality Results That Last

Everyone wants fast results, but the quickest way may not provide the best quality for the long run. This raises the potential of additional spend down the road to correct any errors. Going with the best option for exterior maintenance, both speed and quality can easily be achieved without causing damage to the building or the need to spend more money fixing errors.

Lower TCO Over Time

High-rise window cleaning systems also help to lower the building’s total cost of ownership (TCO) over time. This occurs by identifying at-risk areas of the building that may be susceptible to deterioration that results in water or air penetration and potential damage to the building. 

Increased Building Aesthetic

A natural benefit of hiring a professional, experienced, and safety-compliant window cleaning company to clean a building’s windows is that it will keep your building looking great. The upkeep in window cleaning will present a professional look and help building owners and commercial real estate agents attract potential new tenants.

Summary: Know the Reality of Skyscraper Window Cleaning and Maintenance

The right strategy for high-rise window cleaning and maintenance begins and ends with experience. And figuring out the various nuances of window washing is much more than choosing a single cleaning solution or trying to find the best way to reach the windows. It’s the culmination of experience that can help your building look its best, work with the right professionals, leverage integrated high-rise exterior maintenance services and more. 

Connect With the Right Company to Ensure the Highest Standards of High Rise Window Maintenance

Skyscraper window cleaning and maintenance must not be an afterthought, and failure to consider the risks and needs for each job will result in added liability and safety risks. Fortunately, the experts have already done all the legwork for you, and you can create a turnkey strategy for exterior building maintenance by choosing the right partner.

Contact EDS Waterproofing to schedule your window washing consultation today.