Effects of Carpet on Exterior Masonry Balconies

By Mitchell H. Frumkin

Balconies can be a promotional highlight of a building, giving residents an opportunity to step outside and enjoy the view. While sipping evening coffee and reading a good book, most residents will notice the cool breeze long before thinking about their balcony’s stability.

However, structural stability should be aforethought in the owner’s mind because balconies are more vulnerable to deterioration than any other building element. Balconies can be a nightmare if water penetrates the concrete base and compromises its structural integrity. For this reason, water-retaining carpets are strongly discouraged and waterproofing paints and sealants are recommended for new and existing decks.

Impermeable paints or sealants are required to prevent concrete corrosion. However, when constructed, the vast majority of balconies are

left without any waterproofing protection. Water is destructive because when combined with concrete and steel, an electrochemical reaction results in oxidation. The by-products of oxidation take up more space than the base metal and cause the concrete to spall away from its reinforcing steel. Simply put, when balconies are not waterproofed,

water can seep into the porous concrete and rust the structural steel reinforcement within it.

Rusted, steel expands which then causes the concrete to crumble and fall.

Deterioration rates vary due to the specific circumstances of the building. One of the most damaging factors leading to the rusting of reinforcing steel is outdoor carpeting. Like a sponge, carpets absorb moisture and remain damp for long periods of time. Carpets keep the balcony in a state of perpetual wetness, speeding up the deterioration process. Shallow concrete over reinforcing steel, water infiltration in railing embedment and insufficient drainage also accelerate the corrosion process. In winter months, the water that has seeped into the concrete freezes and expands then melts and returns to its normal mass. During these freeze/thaw cycles, the potential

increases for the reinforcement to corrode and the concrete to crack and spall. Once the decay begins, small cracks can worsen and lead to an accelerated attack of the balcony’s structural integrity.

To prevent water damage, the surface of outdoor balconies must be protected. Latex-based paint provide water protection for concrete with moderate wear. More durable alkyd, epoxy, or poly urethane- based paints are designed to rain-proof balconies that are subject to heavy foot traffic and patio furniture. Painting also allows for caulking, sealing and patching of any cracks or worn sections to further prevent possible moisture and ice damage. Take it a step further with surface sealers that penetrate the concrete surface and fill cracks to provide even more protection from water damage.

Whichever waterproofing finish you choose, it will be a vast improvement over any moisture trapping carpet sold as an outdoor product. Each layer of protection will help prevent further moisture absorption, enhancing the longevity of the concrete balcony and the property value of the unit. By reducing the amount of water reaching the concrete imbedded steel, owners/ managers can prevent the most common types of deterioration so that residents enjoying the open air can continue to drink their coffee and reading a book without a thought about the steel reinforced concrete beneath their feet.

The Key to DWV: What You Need to Know about Drain, Waste & Vent Piping Systems

By John Griffith

Your drain waste and vent (DWV) system is probably one of the most important components of your plumbing system, allowing the flow and removal of grey-water and sewage down drains and through waste pipes. Unfortunately, as buildings age, the corrosion of cast iron DWV piping can become a severe problem. Depending on the external environmental conditions and the corrosiveness of the liquid waste and gasses within the pipes, major blockages and even complete structural collapse are not uncommon.

One of the keys to protecting your property is to educate your staff on the signs of potential problems. Knowing what to look for can help

avoid excessive obstructions, total system failure and extensive water damage.

Here are the top four things to look for as DWV pipes age:

  • RUST forms on the inside of the pipe, creating a crust of “tubercules.” Tuberculation slows water flow, eroding the metal and increasing the chances of
  • CORROSION appears in different forms: long cracks can form on horizontal sections. Pipes can disintegrate in certain sections. Fittings can often be problematic, and occasionally, pipes can become entirely blocked due to lack of maintenance.
  • CHECK the vent side of your Often, the vent side is in worse condition than the drain side, contributing to the release of sewer gas inside your building.
  • REPEATED backups, slow draining or unexplain- able odors are signs your DWV piping system could be

If your property is more than 20 years old  and you are experiencing any of these signs, we

recommend a camera inspection of the DWV lines to investigate any issues. Another best practice is   to keep a record of leaks and blockages, reviewing them  every quarter.

This report can help you determine when pipe replacement may make sense.

Eventually, all drain and waste systems need to be replaced. Timely cast iron replacement will prevent recurring problems, system failure, extensive damage and toxic water contamination.


Lead-Based Paint Final Rule Update

Lead-Based Paint Final Rule Update

By Judy Sullivan

On January 13, 2017, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Office issued a final rule amending the lead-based paint regulations by reducing the blood level in a child under the age of six that triggers an environmental intervention if the child lives in federally-owned or federally-assisted housing constructed before 1978. HUD adopted the revised definition of “elevated blood lead levels” established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The final rule also establishes more comprehensive testing and evaluation procedures for housing where children live.

Scientific studies have shown that even low levels of lead in the blood can cause lifelong ill effects. The adverse health effects of lead in children include decreased bone and muscle growth, damage to the nervous system, kidney damage, blood anemia and damage to the brain, including behavior problems, lower IQ, hearing loss and learning disabilities.

The Lead Based Paint rule was published as a proposed rule for public comment on September 1, 2016. The Final Rule was effective February13, 2017 and enforceable July 13, 2017.

Major changes in the rule:

  • Brings the definition of Elevated Blood Lead Level in line with CDC’s threshold (reduce to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) or greater);
  • Enables HUD to change the Elevated Blood Lead Level in the future should the CDC threshold change;
  • When a child is found with an Elevated Blood Lead Level:
  1. Enhances the assessment in that child’s unit from a Risk Assessment to an Environmental Investigation;
  2. Adds a requirement that every assisted unit in the building occupied by a child under 6 years old receive a Risk Assessment with Lead Hazard Control of any lead-based paint hazards;
  3. Adds a requirement that HUD be notified for all types of housing assistance that have an Elevated Blood Lead Level requirement.

The final rule is at: http://bit.ly/2jh1eIE

Requirements for Notification, Evaluation and Reduction of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Federally Owned Residential Property and Housing Receiving Federal Assistance; Response to Elevated Blood Lead Levels (24 CFR Part 35, [Docket No. FR–5816–F–02], RIN 2501–AD77). 

Judy Sullivan is NAHC’s government relations representative.