Webinar on “A Holistic Approach to Waterproofing & Thermal Insulation of Buildings”

Indian Buildings Congress on 21st July 2020 at 4.30pm Organized a webinar on “A Holistic Approach to Waterproofing & Thermal Insulation of Buildings”. Shri Pradeep Mittal, President , IBC in his introductory speech welcomed Shri O.P.Goel Founder President, IBC; Shri Anant Kumar, Additional, DG (Tech.),CPWD; Shri M.S.Sudish, Head of Specifications and design division of Dr. Fixit Pidilite Industries limited; Shri H.P.Gupta, Honorary Secretary, IBC; All viewers and audiences who joined the webinar. The President, briefed about the vision and role of IBC in promotion of Built environment. He emphasized the necessity and importance of waterproofing and thermal insulation of buildings in the present day scenario for ensuring leakage/seepage free buildings and comfortable thermal environment to the occupants.

The President, IBC in his address informed that in building construction, waterproofing is a fundamental aspect of creating a building envelope, to maintain a controlled environment.

On account of poor water proofing treatment, faulty construction joints, ineffective water proofing materials used or the improper workmanship there could be seepage and leakage in basement, walls, deck slab of wet areas, roofing, water retaining structures and balconies etc. He further informed that other reasons could be the materials used might have been highly porous. The surface of the walls may be faulty with minute cracks on the walls. Capillary may rise from the ground when the foundation walls absorb water and minerals from the soil. If there is a high humidity level in the building one will observe faint halos /patches of dampness on the walls.

The water proofing penetrations through a building envelope must be built in a way such that water does not leak/seep into the building. Therefore the building needs  quick  waterproofing if it has suffered from water damage or flooding.  To be able to do the necessary waterproofing work one should know from where the problem comes.

He further informed that while taking care of waterproofing, one cannot ignore the importance of thermal insulation in today’s environment of energy crisis. Thermal insulation of an Building is important to reduce energy consumption in buildings by preventing heat gain/loss through the building envelope and to provide a comfortable thermal level to the occupants.

There are many insulation materials employed to slow heat loss, such as: cellulose, glass wool, rock wool, polystyrene, urethane foam, vermiculite, wood fibre, plant fibre (cannabis, flax, cotton, cork, etc.), recycled cotton denim, plant straw, animal fibre (sheep’s wool), cement, and earth or soil, reflective insulation (also known as radiant barrier) but it can also involve a range of designs and techniques to address the main modes of heat transfer-conduction, radiation, and convection materials.

Shri O.P.Goel, Founder President, IBC and former DG(W), CPWD, in his address briefed about how the IBC was formed and its journey since inception. He lauded the role of IBC in its contribution towards promotion of built environment which is sustainable, less costly, affordable, energy efficient. He further informed that water is very important for buildings but water at a wrong place is enemy of the structure. We will hear the experts and will learn further on the topic. In the present day scenario the system of webinar will continue and the profession will continue to grow.

Shri Anant Kumar, Additional, DG (Tech.), CPWD in his address informed that waterproofing is one of the most critical item but most neglected part of execution. The involved engineers and contractors supervisors are not adequately trained in selection of proper product of treatment and supervision of the details of execution of waterproofing meticulously. We have to plan our dry and wet area properly to avoid stagnation of water otherwise it will find its way to wrong places. He informed that there is no excuse for fault in civil engineering. If waterproofing is not done properly at the relevant time of execution, it involves dismantling of all covering items including waterproofing itself for redoing the whole exercise leading to heavy cost and other related problems. If the house is not properly waterproofed, it becomes headache, spoils whole building, and spoils health leads to breathing problems and many more. The leakage/ seepage problem from upper floors to lower floors is more prominent in multi-storeyed housing societies where the occupants of the house from where the leakage percolates are normally reluctant for repairs causing lot of fights among occupants leading to court cases. If waterproofing is done properly, it gives long life to the buildings. Similarly, the thermal insulation gives thermal comfort to the occupants and reduces the CO2 emission.

Shri M.S.Sudish, Head of Specifications and design division of Dr. Fixit Pidilite Industries limited, gave a detailed presentation. He informed even though waterproofing as an activity contributes to 2% of the cost of construction, it is considered as one among the most sensitive aspects in creating a habitable space. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the health of our buildings is more important to our quality of life than ever before. The study says the next generation will spend more than 90-95% of their time inside the buildings. A healthy built environment  is no more a luxury but has become a basic necessity now.

Wet areas are usually the spaces where a lot of plumbing and sanitary fixtures are there or spaces that are exposed or subjected to high moisture, rain or water throughout the year than any other area in a building. Such spaces are mainly the toilets, bathrooms, laundries (washing area of a house), backyard, balconies or even kitchen.

Unlike other areas, leakages in wet areas will cause serious inconvenience to the occupants, stress of repairs and maintenance thereby reduces the property value.Lack of sufficient prevention measure in these areas would lead to leakage and the same if left undetected for a long period, causes damages like growth of mould, which can be harmful to people especially with respiratory problems such as asthma. This can lead to, “concrete cancer”, where the steel reinforcing inside the concrete starts to rust. As the steel rusts it expands, displacing the concrete around it, causing it to become brittle and crack thus ultimately weaken the structure. Decaying of wood/ timber flooring or structures, corrosion of plumbing and deterioration of precious interiors of adjacent room walls are few other additions in the list. It can even lead to a life threating situation by making the electric connections and appliances at home vulnerable to electric shocks.

Wet area (bathrooms, balconies, utilities, kitchen etc.) waterproofing is considered as one among the critical area in buildings where a fool proof waterproofing is a must due to the following reasons.

  1. There will be limited or no access to repair the waterproofing treatment if the system fails.
  2. While the leakage will be on the upper floor, the impact and inconvenience due to the leakage will be experienced by the persons at the lower floor which will always result in frictions and in spoiling the relations.
  3. There is always a hygiene issue associated with the leakage from the wet area.
  4. Costly fixtures, including tiles/granites, commodes, shower partitions etc are to be removed for addressing the leakage issue. This will incur huge cost of removal as well as re fixing.

The practises as followed in the Industry are

  1. Acrylic cementitious waterproofing.
  2. Crystallisation waterproofing.
  3. Polyurethane waterproofing.
  4. Water based copolymer waterproofing.

While all these systems are used in projects as per the recommendations of the manufacturer or the consultant, water based co-polymer systems are supposed to be better than other systems due to the ease of application, formation of watertight film, free from mixing or moisture curing challenges etc.

It is always important to ensure the golden principle of waterproofing “Do first time right” while deciding the system for toilet waterproofing due to the reasons as shown above.

Similarly, it is important to design the right system for roof waterproofing, which is another critical area in building construction. The following are the general requirements while deciding on the roof waterproofing.

  1. Jointless system.
  2. Highly durable.
  3. Should be fast and easy
  4. Should accommodate the movements due to thermal stresses
  5. Should ensure at least a minimum level of thermal insulation properties.

The most widely seen current practises for roof waterproofing are

  1. Acrylic cementitious waterproofing.
  2. Preformed Membrane waterproofing
  3. Polyurethane waterproofing.
  4. Polyurethane Foam (PUF) insulation and waterproofing.

Acrylic cementitious systems are not a good choice for roof waterproofing where thermal stresses are more. As the elongation properties are comparatively lesser with other systems it will develop cracks easily and lead to failure.

Preformed membranes are good but due to lot of joints in the system it carries a lot of risk. These joints become critical while installation and after thus ensuring a fool proof system become difficult.

Liquid applied polyurethanes are better choice considering that the system is jointless and have superior technical parameters compared to other systems.

While various liquid applied and pre formed membranes are available in the market, a spray applied, instant setting high density polyurethane foam will be the ideal system which meets all the requirements as mentioned above.

Dr. Fixit, being the market leader in providing the right waterproofing system for the industry, has various products to meet the growing needs of the market. We at Dr. Fixit will be happy to provide any assistance in meeting the requirements of clients in waterproofing and insulation.

At the end of the webinar, Shri Pradeep Mittal, President, IBC presented the vote of thanks since due to connectivity Problem, Shri H.P.Gupta, Honorary Secretary, IBC could not be joined to present vote of thanks.  The President, IBC thanked the panellist and all the attendees in the webinar to make the webinar successful.