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Moisture Issues in Masonry Buildings with Flat Roofs in Chicago

Rotted trusses Chicago
The housing bubble hurt many households when it happened, but it is still affecting families today in a different way. When the bubble was at its peak, the demand for new houses was also peaking, and builders were rushing as quickly as they could to finish up houses and move onto new ones. In the process, they often used sub-par materials and cut corners in the design. The result is that moisture is migrating into the roof systems and the walls of the buildings, and slowly rotting the wood framing work. This is very prominent in masonry buildings built between 2003-2008 that have flat roofs in the Chicago area.

When a house is built, it needs to stick to strict building requirements and specifications to ensure that the building envelope is as air tight as possible. This includes the installation of water proof membranes above masonry openings such as windows and doors, insulating penetrations to prevent condensation with temperature changes, and separation of building elements. When builders were rushing in the peak of construction, the either did less work than required for these elements, or completely skipped them. Without a membrane above windows and doors, any water that enters the structure through that opening will run down the wall, and soak into connected wood members. With time, these wood pieces will rot and lose their strength. Metal penetrations through masonry walls are very susceptible to condensation, as metal is a great thermal conductor. With freezing temperatures outside, and warm temperatures inside, water droplets form on the metal and cause it to corrode. These water droplets can also affect any nearby wood and cause rot. The most common issue we have noticed during our work with these buildings, is that the roofs are not a separate system from the framing/masonry gap. Over the years this allows the moisture that inherently migrates through sub-bar masonry work to enter the roof system, condensate on the underside of the roof decking, and slowly rot all connected wood members. This can in turn compromise the structural integrity of the roof as trusses become rotted and lose their strength.

In some cases where the builder stuck to some of the requirements, and if noticed early enough, the damage is not extreme and can be repaired to the extent that the structure is still safe and sound. In other cases that have been going on for years, and where the work was done as low cost as possible, parapet walls need to be removed, whole trusses need to be replaced along with the roof and decking, and the masonry needs to be redone. These flat roofs in Chicago masonry buildings most often show the issues with moisture around the perimeter of the house. If you notice a musty or wet smell, or see signs on moisture on walls and ceilings, it is definitely a good idea to have your roof inspected. Having dealt with multiple buildings with this issue, here at Smart Roofing Inc., we can tell you exactly what the repair process will be. In almost all cases the roof will need to be replaced to gain access to the roof decking and framing, so avoid wasting time and money on local repairs without having a thorough inspection done.

SMART Roofing, Inc. is a full-service roofing contractor serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Select SMART Roofing, Inc. as your Chicago Roofing Contractor with plenty of experience with flat roofs. From roof assessments and repairs to installations of virtually every type of new residential roof and commercial roof, our commitment to excellence, stellar customer service, and exceptional results are the “SMART” roofing difference. Contact the roofing experts at SMART Roofing, Inc. at (847) 797-0404, to learn more, or email us for your residential or commercial roofing needs.

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