Understand Moisture Mitigation: Beast's Nature! | Kaloutas

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Understanding Moisture Mitigation - The Nature of the Beast!

 Understanding Moisture Mitigation - The Nature of the Beast!

Did you know that con­crete breathes?

And, not only does it breathe, but its breath­ing can cre­ate mas­sive prob­lems for your indus­tri­al or com­mer­cial floor­ing if it’s not under­stood and controlled.

As with almost every aspect of facil­i­ty man­age­ment and main­te­nance, the key is it be edu­cat­ed and aware of the poten­tial risks and your options for prac­ti­cal solu­tions. With that said, let’s dive into a clos­er look at mois­ture trans­mis­sion, its caus­es, and your options for elim­i­nat­ing a prob­lem before it has a chance to bub­ble to the surface.

At Kaloutas’s indus­tri­al floor­ing divi­sion, we’re big fans of work­ing smarter and skip­ping headaches when­ev­er pos­si­ble, and we’re guess­ing you are too.

An Incon­ve­nient Truth — How and Why Dan­ger­ous Mois­ture Lev­els Occur in Your Con­crete Slab

Behind almost every great floor­ing fail­ure is a mois­ture issue. It’s true. An excess of mois­ture is the #1 con­trib­u­tor to floor sys­tem break­downs.

How does it happen?

Well, as we men­tioned above, con­crete breathes. It may feel sol­id but it’s actu­al­ly porous, and rid­dled with cap­il­lar­ies. The nat­u­ral­ly-occur­ring mois­ture in the ground (thanks to the pres­ence of ground­wa­ter) seeps its way up through the micro­scop­ic net­work of pas­sages in your con­crete, and even­tu­al­ly will make its pres­ence known on the surface.

Your con­crete is also made with water, of course; it’s a pri­ma­ry ingre­di­ent. In fact, builders will often add even more water than is nec­es­sary to make it eas­i­er to work with. Once it’s poured, it doesn’t ful­ly dry out for years — rough­ly one year per inch of thick­ness, to be more spe­cif­ic. This means that in addi­tion to ground­wa­ter work­ing its way up, you also have a mois­ture-laden floor­ing sur­face slow­ly releas­ing water vapor for years.

Con­crete needs to breathe; it’s the nature of the beast. The key is found in con­trol­ling that breathing.

How Do You Know If You Have a Mois­ture Prob­lem In Your Con­crete Slab?

Here are a few warn­ing signs to watch for:

  • Blis­ters on a seam­less epoxy floor
  • Delam­i­na­tion of tiles
  • Stains on bare concrete
  • Test­ing! We can’t empha­size enough how impor­tant it is to have your slab test­ed for ele­vat­ed mois­ture lev­els with a con­crete mois­ture test, even if there are no imme­di­ate signs of an issue (why wait?)

Anoth­er red flag is a con­crete slab that was poured pri­or to the year 2000. Vapor bar­ri­ers became more of an indus­try stan­dard at the turn of the mil­len­ni­um, but old­er build­ings like­ly will not have any sort of bar­ri­er in place. This is impor­tant to keep in mind!

Can You Install a Vapor Bar­ri­er for an Old­er Con­crete Slab?

Absolute­ly! It’s not too late.

A qual­i­fied, expert floor­ing pro­fes­sion­al can deter­mine and install the right mois­ture mit­i­ga­tion sys­tem for your facil­i­ty. These sys­tems will slow or com­plete­ly inhib­it the vapor trans­mis­sion, and recent advances have made them more effec­tive than ever before.

Can You Have a Mois­ture Issue Even If You Do Have a Vapor Barrier?

Not all vapor mit­i­ga­tion sys­tems are cre­at­ed equal, and nei­ther is the qual­i­ty of the instal­la­tion. And, as we men­tioned above, new­er con­crete floors are con­tin­u­ing to dis­pel the excess of mois­ture that is trapped with­in the sub­strate dur­ing the mix­ing and pour­ing process.

To com­pound the issue, most mod­ern indus­tri­al facil­i­ties are well sealed and have some sort of HVAC sys­tem to keep the air flow­ing and con­trol the inte­ri­or tem­per­a­ture, like air con­di­tion­ing. This is where that pesky sci­ence gets in the way once again… As your AC runs, it dehu­mi­dies the envi­ron­ment, and, in so doing, the vapor pres­sure with­in the con­crete begins to fluc­tu­ate. The two nat­u­ral­ly-occur­ring forces then try to equal­ize (the vapor pres­sure in the floor and the air pres­sure in the environment).

Why does this matter?

Well, as the pres­sures try to equal­ize them­selves, even more vapor is drawn from the slab. In short, a mois­ture issue can be cre­at­ed despite hav­ing a well-sealed, mod­ern facil­i­ty with a like-new con­crete floor and cut­ting-edge HVAC system.

Whether your prop­er­ty is brand new or a cen­tu­ry old, mois­ture still finds a way inside through your floor.

What Is Mois­ture Mitigation?

Mois­ture mit­i­ga­tion takes place in an indus­tri­al or com­mer­cial set­ting to reduce the risk of decay and aller­gens in a facil­i­ty. By doing so, you enhance the safe­ty and health of your peo­ple and the longevi­ty of your building. 

Mois­ture mit­i­ga­tion can be imple­ment­ed by the following: 

  • Main­tain­ing caulk­ing through­out your building

  • Main­tain­ing floor coat­ings — Epoxy, cemen­ti­tious coat­ings, etc.

  • Main­te­nance plan­ning for clean­ing and repairs

  • Reg­u­lar inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or paint­ing and repainting 

  • Mois­ture test­ing and the use of dehu­mid­i­fiers and air purifiers

The Tan­gi­ble Val­ue of a Mois­ture Mit­i­ga­tion System

As we men­tioned above, we’re big believ­ers in get­ting ahead of a prob­lem before it real­ly ruins your day (or main­te­nance bud­get). The very best move you can make is to proac­tive­ly iden­ti­fy the mois­ture lev­els in your slab, and ensure that a mit­i­ga­tion sys­tem is in place that will effec­tive­ly reg­u­late just how much mois­ture is mak­ing its way through.

Align­ing your­self with a trust­wor­thy and rep­utable indus­tri­al floor­ing expert is essen­tial. They can help guide you through the process and thor­ough­ly under­stand the solu­tions avail­able to you.

Kaloutas is New Eng­land’s pre­mier con­trac­tor for com­mer­cial & indus­tri­al paint­ing, floor­ing, and relat­ed ser­vices. Estab­lished in 1987, Kaloutas has become a trust­ed resource for gen­er­al con­trac­tors, facil­i­ties man­agers, and build­ing own­ers from Con­necti­cut to Maine. Our team prides itself on high qual­i­ty work­man­ship, jobs done on time & bud­get, and tack­ling com­plex projects that oth­er con­trac­tors don’t have the expe­ri­ence or resources to han­dle. Con­tact us today for a paint­ing or floor­ing esti­mate, or give us a call at 9785321414 to learn more.

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