Sealants Need Regular Maintenance to Ensure Optimal Performance


One of the most critical components of the building envelope is the joint sealant, and inspection and maintenance of sealants are essential for optimum performance. Although the expense when compared to the total cost of construction is small, the results of failed sealant can be substantial. For this reason, a thorough inspection and evaluation of sealant joints on a regular basis is recommended and may result in substantial savings in maintenance cost over the life of the structure. We have compiled a list of four basic steps to follow when inspecting and performing maintenance of the sealant on your structure.

  1. Inspection – the first step is to evaluate the sealant joints and look for any of the five main signs of failure:
    1. Improper installation – a wide range of symptoms that could lead to problems
    2. Loss of elasticity – sometimes indicated by loss of flexibility
    3. Low of adhesion – the sealant is separating from the surfaces to which it was applied
    4. Loss of cohesion – visible cracks or splitting within the sealant itself
    5. Weathering – could include example, blistering, chalking, discoloration, or cracking

 

Check out the following guidelines we have created that may be helpful in determining and evaluating the health of expansion and control joint seals in your structure.

*Most of the above symptoms may be observed visually and identified by minimal physical probing. The use of a probing tool such as an ice pick is useful in making a determination as to the health of the sealant joint. The frequency of joint inspections should be annual and preferably during colder temperatures when joints are opening, and adhesive failures may be noted.

  1. Cleaning – the second step is to perform routine cleaning to remove any mildew or dirt.
    1. For some sealants, the accumulation of mildew and dirt may impair the product’s ability to perform its function. Most sealants are reasonably resistant to dirt pick-up. Pecora Non-Staining Technology Silicone Sealants will not contribute to residue rundown or dirt pick-up on your building. Alcohol-based cleaners should not be used for silicone sealants; a mild soap and water solution is usually adequate.

 

  1. Touch-Ups – the third step is to repair any minor gaps that are apparent in the sealant
    1. The touching-up of problem areas is not a long-term solution. This is because applying a sealant over an existing sealant (even a compatible product) will result in an inferior seal compared to the original installation. Touch-ups should be recognized for what they are –temporary measures to prolong the life of the existing sealant until a more permanent solution (involving replacement of affected areas) can be scheduled.

 

  1. Replacement – the final step is determining when a significant portion of the sealant in a given area shows signs of failure, or when the sealant has lost its flexibility, it is time to consider replacing the sealant.
    1. Different areas of the building envelope may require replacement of the sealant at different times, depending on exposure to weather. For example, sealants usually break down more quickly when exposed to sunlight, so the sealant on the north side of the building (which is exposed to more sun) may require replacement long before the sealant on the south side of the building shows any signs of problems.

 

Sealants inspection and maintenance should be reviewed every one to two years. The action taken at that point – cleaning, touch-up, repair, or replacement – depends on the observed condition of the sealant. Because there are so many different types of sealants and many causes of sealant failure, the inspection and maintenance should be carried out by professional contractors.

Generally, do not try to extend the service life of the sealant past the manufacturer’s recommended interval. Go for quality. In most cases, using the best quality materials will lower future servicing and repair costs.

For more information on our sealant offerings, or sealant maintenance recommendations, we urge you to contact our Pecora Corporation Technical Services Group. Our expert team is highly qualified to recommend the proper solution for your project. Our Technical Services staff offers training in product technology and use, provides the technical assistance you require in the planning and implementation of your project. They can be reached by email techservices@pecora.com or by phone (800)-523-6688.

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