Tools, Tips, and Resources
Apart from enclosure experts and engineers, Radigan recommends involving energy consultants.
“Energy efficiency firms are somewhat new to the enclosure industry, but they’re heavily involved in diagnosis,” he says. “They can also ensure that your replacement is airtight and if it might yield energy savings.”
There are also unlikely resources outside of the design community.
“Architects like to design buildings, but not necessarily fix them,” Bast notes. “Contractors and window washers – trades that are actually working on the building – can be your eyes and help you notice troublesome things.”
User friendly devices will help you know if the problem is a bigger deal than you initially thought.
“Infrared cameras can be used with some training and they’ll let you know where leakage might be occurring. But at first it’s kind of like looking at an X-ray without a medical degree,” Bast explains. “Crack monitors are an easier device and can let you know if the problem is growing.”
When failures become more invasive and intensive, full-scale recladding may be the best route.
Recladding for Results
“There are going to be more reclad projects coming up. There are a lot of buildings of the post-World War II vintage that are having problems,” Bast says. “Excessive leakage is something that can’t be fixed with the Band-Aid approach. It’s a defect that will never get fixed with sealants.”
Western Facades recently completed full-scale replacement of a facade on a New York rental property. The former system was glazed white brick that had so much water infiltration, some faces of the bricks popped off.
“The system had clearly reached the end of its lifespan. The owner was spending lots of money every few years on little fixes across the building,” Radigan says. “Recladding presented the opportunity to improve the look and function.”
The solution entailed an air cavity, new insulation, and terra cotta rainscreen. Savings will be realized through the efficient barrier and because the system requires less maintenance and repair than traditional masonry.
Many brick and stone buildings are facing the corrosion of their embedded steel support systems, Bast notes. Sandstone veneers such as marble and granite – popular in 1960s construction – are losing strength over time, he adds.
“If the marble starts to bow, it’s starting to fail. Early enough you can post-install anchors to strengthen it, but sometimes that requires full-scale facade replacement,” Bast says. “This problem, like so many others, is fairly common and well-known. But if issues are overlooked for long enough, the remedies can be drastic.”
Chris Curtland christopher.curtland @buildings.com is assistant editor of