Moisture intrusion was an ongoing problem at Administration Hall on an Ohio campus. The facilities department discovered a recladding solution to stop the water while also improving energy efficiency of the building envelope.
Danielle Tracy, executive director of operations at the college, revisits the planning and execution of the project.
By Facility Executive Staff
From the February 2019 Issue
Please describe the facility involved in your project.
One of the buildings on our campus is Administration Hall. Built in 1983, this is a two-story, 27,639 square foot building that houses various administrative offices for this 268-acre campus with 22 buildings.
The building has experienced water infiltration though the windows, window reveals, and exterior envelope over the last few years. Moisture was penetrating though exterior walls and had begun to cause interior damage to finishes. There was no flashing put in the building originally when it was designed, and we would get driving rains that would come in through the brick, hit a structural steel beam that runs the length of the building, and from there it would drip down and penetrate the ceilings. Additionally, water was coming in through the windows. This wasn’t just a problem when it was raining; the R-factor of the building envelope was so low without any flashing that condensation would form on the steel beam and would drip throughout the building.
The water intrusion situation was very uncomfortable. Occupants would complain that they had water coming directly in their windows and about water spots. We were constantly changing out ceiling tiles, doing some drywall repairs, and repainting around windows.
How did you research the options available? And how did you arrive at the final decision to implement it?
To help us develop a solution to the water intrusion problem, we hired SSOE [an architecture, engineering, and construction management firm] as our architect, and they in turn hired a forensic investigator to evaluate the water infiltration problem. SSOE and the forensic investigator concluded that the main problem was water coming through the building and hitting that steel beam.
Having determined the source of the water intrusion problem, SSOE brought several options back to us. First, they recommended a metal panel solution from Dryvit that would have been applied directly over the existing brick wall of the facility. The second option was to take out the brick completely, put in flashing, and then re-install the clay brick. We thought that the brick retrofit was a bit invasive and would cause a lot of disturbance to building occupants for an extended period of time, and we weren’t totally comfortable with opening up the building and all of the unknowns that potentially awaited us. Initially we wanted to go with the Dryvit metal panel option, which ended up costing more than we expected. SSOE then came back with the NewBrick solution.
[At 1/12th the weight of traditional clay brick, NewBrick is a lightweight insulated brick veneer that matches the size and appearance of clay brick. The product’s lightweight status provides advantages over clay brick, including faster installation time and the ability to eliminate steel and concrete reinforcements required when clay brick is used.]
The first time I saw NewBrick, I was really impressed that it functioned just like a brick veneer with the added benefit of insulation behind each piece. That would dramatically increase our R-factor. Then as Dryvit started matching NewBrick to the existing clay brick on the building and we started receiving sample panels, I could really see how the finished product would match the look of our existing building. We were pretty excited about it.
We presented it to our President and vice presidents, and they were impressed that the building could look like a brick building even though we would be covering up the brick.
How has the new installation impacted your work? Did any facility procedures or policies need to be updated?
Once the NewBrick had been installed and the grout was applied, people were amazed at how it looked. You couldn’t tell the difference between NewBrick and the original clay brick. So we got a lot of buy-in from the occupants of the building. They couldn’t believe what it looked like as it started coming together.
Beyond the aesthetics, people are happy that water has stopped dripping onto their desks. And, they’re proud of the way that it looks. They’re excited to be in a building that’s more energy efficient and will be more comfortable for us throughout the year.
The NewBrick installation solved our moisture intrusion problems, but we also replaced the roof during this project to ensure we did not have additional leaks from there.
Any other comments on this project, or lessons learned?
I would say don’t be afraid to try new things. Interestingly, my dad worked as a mason all his life, installing thousands of clay bricks over the years. When I was telling him about this project, he had his reservations because, as a bricklayer, he didn’t think that we would be happy with a product that wasn’t clay brick. He asked me to send him the specs, so he could research NewBrick himself. When he saw the product, read the specs, and realized that NewBrick would be installed as a veneer on top of the clay brick, it began to make sense to him. He actually said he thought it was pretty cool. Coming from a lifelong brick layer and mason, I thought that was a good indication that going with NewBrick was the right solution.
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