“A few drops fell last weekend ” and ” that was enough for water to get home,” says Miguel Jurado on Clarin ARQ .
It is an experience shared by all of us: a bit of water and the problems start at home, but the worriest thing is the damage to the building . You know something is wrong and will get worse. It will affect the structure.
In the his article How long do houses live? the cause of water infiltration was a wrong asphalt membrane after seven years. It was misplaced, and some roots of wild plants helped more water to enter and affect the structure.
“If I leave it like that, it can be dangerous. Everybody knows water is the worst enemy of the buildings.”
We all know that buildings are not forever but the key to its useful life is quality that depends on three issues: the quality of materials , the quality of workmanship and the quality of maintenance.
Going on with the example in the article: how much should the asphalt membrane have lasted? About 30 years. According to the National Association of House Builder ( NAHB), which is an US organization that advises builders and has studied how long each item and part of a building last.
Nevertheless for a membrane to have a useful life of 30 years it should have been placed perfectly, and even most importantly: it should have been properly maintained.
It is true that we expect a home to be for a lifetime, a hundred years or more. We reinforce such perception as we have seen our brick buildings for all our lives. Some are centuries old and still in good condition in every city.
And about concrete we feel it is stronger, and it should be forever.
But this depends on the quality of materials , workmanship and good maintenance of the property. Even concrete buildings are particularly susceptible to damage from water leaks. The smallest crack can affect the iron, it oxidizes , it increases its volume and creates larger cracks, which let even more water in. Is solved with paints and silicones to seal surfaces . And so it does for the masonry , water penetrates and destroys coatings, plasters and paints. They must be well dried and painted.
Here you are a few notes of life expected for most common building materials, but it can be consulted full in the above mentioned study of NAHB.
The iron works last for thirty to forty years. To get it wel maintained anti-rust paint is used. If we apply a preliminary polishing and enameling every five years we can still extend their lifetime. Water affects especially.
The aluminum frames usually last forty or fifty years. We must protect and renew the bearings, and accessory parts.
The woodworks can be sound over forty years, and maintenance is specially important as it is very sensitive to moisture and fungi that may appear.
What it most affects PVC joinery is sunlight. With good care it can last between thirty and fifty years. Also in this case it is particularly important to maintain and replace the worn-out parts.
Exterior and interior paintings have last about fifteen. Professionals know how important it is to have the surface well prepared before working.
And as Miguel Jurado says, asphalt membranes last for thirty years, when well placed and inspected periodically.