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ServiceMaster of Portland(503) 483-4036

Due to differences in construction, various building types have specific design characteristics that make deterioration more likely to occur.  Some of the defects that appear may be due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the original architects or engineers about how facades work.

Deterioration makes buildings more prone to damage in the case of a disaster involving water or fire.  As Portland water damage experts, ServiceMaster of Portland has seen many types of building deterioration as the result oflack of maintenance.  However, if there is one thing we have learned it is that knowing the history of your building can help you be better prepared for a disaster.  Here is what you need to know:

Post-World War II buildings tend to have corner cracking and parapet movement because their walls are thinner than those of earlier buildings. Thinner materials are more vulnerable to deterioration and depend more on caulking than on redundant details like overlapped flashings. Tall buildings of the World War I era are subject to the corrosion of their structural frames that causes brick bulging in localized areas because flashing was not always used at spandrels (floor line), beams or columns to protect against water infiltration.

In addition, before 1950, no provision was made for water, which is always present in building walls, to weep to the outside. As a result, low-rise buildings constructed during the early 20th century suffer from the rusting of decorative elements and appurtenances, although they have no metal frames.

Traditional stucco buildings with stucco applied directly to block have a surprising durability that is due to the integral color in the stucco. The urge to paint such buildings should be resisted since the original color can be quite long-lived, whereas paint would require maintenance every two to five years. Instead, an effort should be made to clean the stucco to improve its appearance.

One of the most common problems that occur on a building facade involves non-structural metal pieces or elements such as fire escapes, flagpoles or lights. These elements corrode and come loose, and the masonry cracks above windows and at corners. Items such as lintels — the horizontal steel elements that support the brick above windows — corrode, causing the masonry to crack.

Parapet corners tend to “walk off” the building because they lack the rods to anchor them to the roof slab, causing step cracks to appear at parapet corners. Limestone, granite and marble on facades can move or crack as well, a common symptom of inadequate initial design or the deterioration of anchors. White staining of a facade (dusty salts called efflorescence or thick, grayish crusts called carbonates) is a sign of water movement through the masonry from above or behind. It indicates that the roof, cornice or gutter flashings may have gaps or that parapet coping joints have aged and shrunk, allowing water to enter.  By maintaining your building however, you can prevent further damage and the need for Portand water damage services.