Brand New and Leaking Like a Sieve

While under construction, the walls of a control building for a new refinery facility were exhibiting considerable leakage during even moderate rain showers. The exterior walls of the building were constructed with single wythe concrete masonry units. CTLGroup was retained to determine the cause of the water infiltration and whether it was due to materials, design, construction, or some combination of the three.

CTLGroup designed an assessment program that included design document review, on-site water leakage testing and laboratory materials testing.

Determination of cause and sources of water leakage, particularly through masonry facades, can be challenging to diagnose, particularly because there is very little standard testing guidance available in the industry. CTLGroup's innovative response to this was to use the few standardized methods that were available and augment them with other reliable diagnostic tools to develop a comprehensive assessment of the problem.

In the field, CTLGroup employed ASTM C1601 chamber testing to evaluate the water resistance of the masonry. CTLGroup augmented the chamber testing with lesser-known Rilem Tube tests. The Rilem tests provide a rapid and simple diagnostic assessment which was very useful to direct and supplement the chamber tests.

In the lab, CTLGroup used a simple but effective water droplet absorption test as a quick and informative quantitative measure of materials performance. The droplet test provided a manner of performance measurement with which to better interpret the significance of results from chemical and petrographic evaluations.

In summary, this novel approach used inexpensive and somewhat informal test methods (e.g. Rilem Tube and water droplet tests) to maximize the usefulness of the standardized field and laboratory procedures.