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occurring. Excessive condensation can damage interior surfaces and provide conditions for mould or other fungal colonies to propagate. Some mould or fungal species are toxic to some humans. It is beyond MAE’s area of expertise to comment on mould or fungal colonies. During the course of our interior inspections we noted that all of the units that were inspected have been provided with bathroom and kitchen fans. 4.5 WALLS
For the purposes of this investigation, wall assembles have been categorized into thee types – one below grade wall assembly, and two above grade wall assemblies: stucco on steel stud framing and mass concrete walls. 4.5.1 Stucco on Steel Stud Framing
The components that make up the stucco wall assembly are listed and shown schematically in Figure 1 below. The schematic detail below has been reproduced from the Architectural drawings provided for our review.
Figure 1 - Stucco Wall Assembly – Plan View
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The stucco walls assemblies can be described as face-sealed assemblies. The outer face of the stucco is the primary defense against water ingress with no provision to handle any moisture ingress once it occurs. Historically, face sealed wall assemblies have not performed well in our climate. The stucco appears to be a pebble-dash stucco and dates back to the original construction period. It should be noted that the Construction Drawings do not show the presence of building paper or a sheathing membrane, which is typical for this type of wall assembly. The Construction Drawings indicate that the original sheathing is a rigid mineral sheathing. While performing the invasive testing, plywood sheathing was observed at many locations. Batt insulation along with poly vapour barrier were also typically observed in the exploratory openings. The paragraphs below describe some of the components that are found in the wall assemblies followed by descriptions of the expected behavior of the above grade walls. Wall Sheathing The sheathing provides backing for stucco attachment and also provides lateral support for the steel studs. If the wall sheathing is exposed to moisture for an extended period of time it will deteriorate. Furthermore, moisture may be able to travel through the sheathing to the underlying structural components, causing them to deteriorate. If the sheathing is allowed to deteriorate, the structural capacity of the steel studs, and the fasteners that connect the stucco to the studs, can be compromised. A reduction in the structural capacity of the studs and/or fasteners would compromise public safety. During the course of our investigation we observed no evidence to suggest that structural integrity had been compromised. Steel Studs The steel studs form part of the building’s exterior walls and are not designed to carry building loads. The studs must transfer gravity loads from the weight of the wall assemblies along with wind and seismic loads. Batt Insulation The insulation reduces heat flow between the inner and outer sides of the wall assembly. The batt insulation’s effectiveness would be reduced if it becomes water damaged.
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Vapour Barrier The vapour barrier resists the movement of water vapour through the assembly. If warm water vapour is allowed to come into contact with colder components, such as the inside face of the exterior sheathing, condensation could occur, which may allow liquid water to accumulate within the hidden sections of the wall assembly. Vapour barriers are generally not required within uninsulated wall assemblies that enclose unheated spaces. Expected Behaviour – Stucco Walls This is the wall’s exterior surface and it’s primary defense against water infiltration. Wire mesh is embedded into the stucco and is mechanically fastened, through the exterior sheathing, to the studs. The mesh fasteners must be strong enough to resist vertical, outward, and horizontal forces that may be imparted on the wall. The mesh performs two primary functions: it controls stucco cracking and it connects the stucco to the building’s structural components. Stucco wall assemblies as described above are commonly referred to as a face sealed assembly. In a face sealed assembly, resistance to water penetration is controlled by the continuity of the outer cladding. This system typically incorporates limited flashings not to direct water out of the wall assembly but rather away from the assembly. The disadvantages of these assemblies are: • In a face sealed assembly, in order to effectively resist water infiltration, the outer cladding and penetrations through the outer cladding, such as windows or similar openings, must remain watertight. In practice, complete water tightness of the outer cladding is difficult to achieve. In a face sealed assembly, the addition of flashings is meant to assist in directing water away from the wall assembly. In practice, however, the lack of a drainage plane behind the stucco cladding traps water between the back of the cladding and the sheathing membrane. As such, moisture behind the cladding is unable to flow down to the flashings to be directed out of the wall assembly.
The behavior of a typical face sealed stucco clad wall is described below: The stucco, acting like a sponge, has the ability to absorb a certain amount of water. If the amount of water that the stucco must absorb exceeds its capacity, the excess water may be driven inward through cracks or other breaches in the cladding. The driving force can be supplied by wind, unbalanced inward vapour pressures that can occur if the exterior face of the wall heats up from solar energy, or from other unbalanced air pressures. Once the moisture has migrated through the breaches to the stucco’s inner surface, wind or other unbalanced pressures can
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continue to drive the moisture to the sheathing. The exterior sheathing has a limited a capacity to resist water damage. If the stucco stops being wetted before its capacity to absorb water is reached, a drying process begins whereby the stucco may be able to dry to the exterior and water ingress may desist. This system can work provided the drying process is long enough and the wetting process is short enough. The likelihood of water damage to vulnerable components will increase if a long wet winter is followed by an unusually wet or cloudy summer. Stucco, like other cementitious building materials, expands and contracts with changing ambient temperatures and humidity levels. If appropriate allowances are not made for the expansion/contraction forces, the stucco will crack. If the cracks are deep enough, the cracks will breach the cladding. The expansion/contraction forces are usually accounted for by providing appropriately spaced and detailed control joints. The control joints may be located beside window or door openings. The British Columbia Wall and Ceiling Association, in the 1993 edition of its Stucco Resource Guide, recommends that “On walls, where the length of stucco surface exceeds 4,500 mm provide vertical control joints not more than 3,000 mm on centre.” It is worthy of note that the 1997 edition of the Stucco Resource Guide recommends that “…joints be installed in framed and sheathed construction so as to create stucco panels of approximately 14 m2 to 17 m2 in as square a configuration as possible...” Control joints should be wide enough to accommodate the expected movement in the adjacent stucco panels. The joints should be flexible enough to accommodate the expected expansion and contraction of adjacent panels. The recommended style of control joint is usually “w” shaped and accommodates movement in the materials while being fully embedded in stucco and limiting water ingress. 4.5.2 Mass Concrete Wall
The components that make up the concrete wall assembly are listed and shown schematically in Figure 2 on the following page. The schematic detail below has been reproduced from the Architectural drawings provided for our review.
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Figure 2 – Mass Concrete Wall Assembly – Plan View The exposed concrete walls at Chelsea Terrace have an exterior coating applied to provide protection from the elements. For descriptions of remaining wall assembly components, refer to the descriptions in Section 4.5.1. Expected Behaviour – Concrete Walls If the concrete has not been coated with elastomeric or similar sealer, it will absorb moisture like a sponge. Wind can drive absorbed moisture inward or outward, depending on its direction. Heat from the sun can remove the moisture from the concrete through an evaporation process. Mass concrete walls are generally considered to be robust especially if they are properly coated. Moisture absorption, within reason, is not generally thought to be detrimental to the structural capacity of the walls provided the exposed face of the concrete is maintained in good condition. 4.5.2 Below Grade Walls
The below grade wall assemblies enclose the parking garage and some areas of the suites. The Architectural Drawings do not indicate how the below grade walls resist water ingress; however, typical below grade wall assemblies have some form of dampproofing.
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A thin bituminous damp-proof membrane appears be adhered to the exterior face of most the concrete walls at Chelsea Terrace. The presence of a damp-proof membrane was verified at most exposed walls, and some areas appear to have had more recent repairs performed. If present, the membrane provides the primary resistance to water infiltration. According to the Construction Drawings, a drainage pipe is located below the wall to collect ground water and transport it away from the building. In the event that there is no damp-proof membrane or that it becomes overwhelmed, the concrete wall has the capacity to store a certain amount of moisture within its thickness before allowing water to penetrate to the interior. Below grade concrete wall assemblies can perform well provided that: • The drainpipes do not become clogged. Clogged drainpipes could allow a build-up of hydrostatic pressure; The damp-proofing membrane is present and does not break down. Like all building components, the membrane has a finite reliable life expectancy. In the absence information regarding the existing membrane, it is difficult to estimate its reliable life expectancy. A broad estimate of the reliable service of the membrane would be 20 to 30 years; The interface between the above grade framing components and the below grade concrete wall remains watertight.
WINDOWS AND DOORS Windows
The exterior windows at Chelsea Terrace are double glazed, aluminum-framed assemblies. The operable windows are predominantly sliders and some are hinged awning style. Good quality aluminum windows should provide approximately 20 years of reliable service. Notation on the window frames indicates that they were manufactured in 1981, thus, at 30 years of age, they have reached their expected reliable life span. Aluminum window frames are generally assembled from four separate extruded aluminum components – two jamb components, one head component and one sill component. The four components are connected together at the four corners of the assembly and sealed against water ingress with small joint sealant (caulking). Eventually, the small joint sealant breaks down and is no longer effective.
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Window frames are generally flush with the exterior face of adjacent walls and are typically surrounded by continuous stucco cladding. Photo 4 shows a typical exterior window/wall interface. Head flashing has been installed at window heads, however the lack of end dams has significantly reduced the effectiveness of the head flashing. Windowsill flashing was not present at the building. A good portion of the windows are located directly beneath roof/balcony overhangs, which provides the windows with protection from bulk water penetration.
Photo 4 – Typical windowsill/ wall interface.
Photo 5 – Typical Window head and head flashing detail.
The Architectural Drawings do not indicate how window assemblies interface with adjacent wall assemblies. Sealant has generally been used at the window-to-wall interfaces to provide protection against air and water infiltration. The condition of the sealant ranged from fair to poor. Deteriorated sealant will increase the likelihood of water infiltration and allow air to pass through the window-to-wall interfaces. Water ingress can deteriorate interior finishes and structural components, while the increased air flow will: • • • • Increase the likelihood of water infiltration; Reduce the building’s energy efficiency; Increase the likelihood of condensation on the inside face of the window assemblies, and; Increase the cold drafts in the vicinity of windows.
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Suspended balconies and patios are accessed via aluminum framed sliding glass doors. The majority of the sliding glass doors are located beneath roof or balcony overhangs and are thus protected from wind driven rain. Sliding glass door details are similar to window details. The exterior doors at Chelsea Terrace are typically metal assemblies that have been mounted in metal frames. The overhang varied from door to door, but was generally present. The main entrance doors are glazed storefront assemblies under a large overhang.
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OBSERVATIONS, DISCUSSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This section describes relevant observations and, where applicable, our recommendations to address observed deficiencies. Time frames for implementation of the recommendations are given. Delaying the implementation of these recommendations may, over time, increase the magnitude of the noted deficiencies, which in turn will increase the eventual cost of implementation. Each recommendation is presented with an order of magnitude budget, which has been derived from our perusal of the Construction Drawings and our experience with similar projects. It is difficult to provide an accurate cost estimate without some preliminary design work and a clearly defined scope of work. The actual cost of the work cannot be known until material quantities have been reliably estimated, project drawings and specifications have been produced, contractors have bid on the project, and the extent of any hidden damage is known. Where applicable, budget values account for consulting fees, taxes, and contingency for hidden damages, but do not account for inflation.
All of the completed occupant surveys have been reproduced in Appendix C. A summary of the survey results is presented in Table 4. Table 4 – Occupant Survey Results
Total number of units at Chelsea Terrace: Total number of units that responded to the survey: ANALYZED DATA # of Responses Units reporting signs of interior water stains Possible water leaks Probable window condensation 19 7 14 % of Units That Responded 33% 12% 25% % of Total # of Units 17% 6% 13% 112 57 (51%)
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A review of Table 4 and the raw data that is presented in Appendix C indicates that one third of the collected surveys report some evidence of leakage or condensation, which is 17 percent of the total units in the building.
The low-slope roofs will be divided into two categories for this report: the main roofs and the lower tier roofs. The roofs are comprised of SBS sheet membrane over a concrete substrate. The main roof will include the large roof above the ninth level (including the mechanical room roofs), the roof above the eighth level (west side and southeast corner), and the roof above the fifth level (west side). The lower tier roofs will include all the smaller roofs projecting from the building. Refer to Drawing A2 for the roof plan. The main roofs appear are roughly 14 years old. A good quality 2-ply SBS roof membrane that has been properly maintained should provide 20 years of effective service. The roofs are generally in good condition for their age. Refer to Photo 6. The roofs cover the majority of the building and have few mechanical penetrations compared to their size, which provides a simple roof configuration and drainage plan. No leaks were reported from the main roofs during our investigation.
Photo 6 – Main roof above ninth level.
Photo 7 – Roof penetration detail on upper mechanical roof required some maintenance.
The main roofs should receive regular maintenance to ensure they reach their expected service life. It was noted that some SBS cap sheet is beginning to delaminate at the seams of some penetrations, which should be addressed as a maintenance item. Refer to Photo 7. Additionally, a patio furniture set was observed set up on the roof above the eighth level, west side. Refer to Photo 8. The roof membrane is not designed to accommodate such point loads and foot traffic
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