By Jamie Shelley
Even block buildings can suffer when water gets into an area that is not supposed to be exposed to the elements. This looks to most people as a "sweating wall." Removing excess moisture from cinder blocks is not an easy process and requires specialized training and equipment. Although it can take a long time before a structure is compromised, it will be very expensive to repair and or replace. Restoring cinder block helps prevent mold damage as well.
SERVPRO has the experience to identify this particular type of storm damage to a Nashville business and the training and equipment to remove it and restore the structure to its original state, even if the building is sitting right on the banks of the Cumberland.
The first thing our inspectors look for is the type of paint applied to the surface. Gloss and semi-gloss paints can actually serve as a vapor barrier. This limits the amount of moisture that the cinder block transfers from the inside to the outside where it evaporates. If this is the case, our technicians will drill holes in the mortar joints at the bottom of the affected wall. This will help to both drain the water from inside the wall cavity formed by the cinder blocks and increase air circulation. The size and number of the holes will be determined by how long the wall has been submerged.
The drying process becomes more difficult if the wall cavities contain insulation. If it takes too long, there is always the possibility that the insulation may have to be removed. This is also true if there are bond beams present. Bond beams are made of concrete and can also retain a large amount of moisture of exposed to the elements for a long period of time.
Our technicians use non-penetrating moisture meters to determine when the drying process is finished. This is accomplished by comparing the affected wall or area to a section that has not been affected. When the moisture content numbers match, then the holes in the mortar joints are securely filled and patched. The process for exterior walls is very similar. The same problems are present regarding insulation and the lack of proper airflow, but it can be accomplished using the same techniques of drilling holes and if the water being removed is still fairly clean. This process can be more difficult if there is a vapor barrier (usually plastic sheeting) behind affected drywall.
Damage to a cinder block structure can take a long time, but it will be very costly to repair once it happens. Our inspectors can quickly tell you if there is a problem that needs to be addressed or if you just have to deal with a "sweaty wall" for a time. To determine which it might be, call SERVPRO of Madison / Goodlettsville at 615-868-5324.
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