How to Proactively Spot Signs of Water Infiltration: A Guide for Property Managers

Water infiltration, a silent yet potent threat to building integrity, demands vigilant attention from property managers. Recognizing and promptly addressing water infiltration is essential to prevent extensive damage and avert costly repairs. For commercial properties, the responsibility for preventing water infiltration and addressing the damage it causes typically falls on the property owner or manager. This guide provides comprehensive insights into spotting and addressing water infiltration effectively.

Understanding Water Infiltration

Water infiltration refers to the unwanted entry of water into a building, typically through its envelope – the roof, walls, windows, or foundation. Common causes include improper sealing, structural damage, and drainage failures.

Prolonged exposure to water can lead to severe risks like structural deterioration, mold growth, and indoor air quality problems, posing potential health hazards and financial burdens.

Signs of Water Infiltration

In most cases, you don’t need fancy equipment to identify water infiltration. Visual, physical, and odor-related indicators offer insights into the extent and nature of the infiltration.

  1. Visual Signs: Look for wall discoloration, mold growth, and peeling paint or wallpaper. These are clear indicators of moisture intrusion.
  2. Physical Signs: Noticeable signs include warped wood, dampness on surfaces, and visible water pooling in certain areas.
  3. Odor and Air Quality Changes: A musty smell is a tell-tale sign of moisture problems, as is an increase in indoor humidity.

Once you or your tenants observe any of these issues, it’s time to take immediate action to investigate the source of the moisture and implement remedial measures.

Critical Areas to Inspect

These critical zones are most susceptible to water damage and can offer early signs of potential issues. Property managers should focus on the following areas for thorough inspections:

  1. Roof and Ceiling – Roofs are the number one cause of commercial water damage, and if left untreated, they can lead to collapse. Check for water stains or leaks, as these are often the first signs of roof problems.
  2. Facade and Windows – Inspect for seepage or condensation, indicating compromised seals.
  3. Foundations and Basements – Look for cracks, dampness, or pooling water, which signal potential foundation issues.
  4. Equipment, HVAC, Sprinklers, Boilers – Regularly inspect these for any signs of leaks or corrosion.

Consistent monitoring of these areas can prevent minor issues from escalating into major, costly problems.

The Importance of Timely Action

A proactive approach to water infiltration can be highly cost-effective and helps avoid more extensive and expensive repairs later. Moreover, ignoring water infiltration can lead to long-term issues such as structural damage and health hazards due to mold and poor air quality.

The tragic incident in Davenport, Iowa, where a six-story, 116-year-old apartment building partially collapsed, leading to missing persons and a significant rescue operation, serves as a stark example of the severe consequences that can arise from ignoring water infiltration and structural issues in a building. Tenants reported various issues over the years, including cracks in the walls and water leakage, which were signs of potential structural problems. These complaints, however, were reportedly ignored by management.

Regular inspections and prompt attention to signs of structural damage and water infiltration could have prevented this tragedy. Building owners and managers are legally and ethically responsible for maintaining safe living conditions. Choosing a qualified business service provider is crucial in ensuring proactive and effective maintenance, thereby preventing catastrophic outcomes and safeguarding the lives of occupants.

ProXpress Expertise in Action

ProXpress offers specialized proactive water infiltration management services, including rapid leak repair and water intrusion testing. These services play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of structures and preventing water damage. ProXpress has helped numerous property managers prevent and repair water damage.

ProXpress’s expedited approach to leak investigation, repairs, and proactive planning, complemented by their proficiency in handling emergency façade safety concerns and minor exterior repairs, sets them apart in ensuring building integrity and safety.

Securing Your Property Against Water Infiltration

Ensuring the longevity and safety of a building hinges on effective water infiltration management. Proactively identifying potential problems and timely and expert intervention can significantly mitigate the risks and costs associated with water damage.

ProXpress provides building owners and property managers the assurance they need through dedicated expertise and rapid response. By understanding the signs of water infiltration and engaging with skilled professionals, property managers can protect their buildings from the detrimental effects of water damage. Contact ProXpress today and take your first step towards preventing water infiltration.


OSHA National Emphasis Program on Falls

Fall-related fatalities and their severe consequences in the workplace are preventable. Yet, falls still take the lives of hundreds and injure thousands of workers each year. Tackling this issue requires a greater emphasis on education, awareness, and fall protection regulations.

For these reasons, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Falls earlier this year to reduce severe injuries and fatalities resulting from falls at heights in various workplaces. This article will provide an overview of the NEP on Falls, initiatives, and the importance of compliance for building owners and property managers.

Focus on Falls – The OSHA National Emphasis Program

OSHA implements temporary NEPs to focus resources on specific hazards and high-hazard industries, using data and inspection findings for evaluation. The NEP on Falls took effect on May 1, 2023, with compliance officers authorized to initiate inspections on July 30, 2023, upon observing workers at heights without prior appointment.

Eric Harbin, Administrator for OSHA, states, “Although most of the regions had their own different approach to addressing falls in the workplace, this kind of nationalized it and put a unified approach on how we target fall exposures in the industry.” This program marks the 10th anniversary of OSHA’s Fall Protection Stand-Down campaign.

The NEP targets general industry and construction to locate and inspect fall hazards in the workplace.

  1. Targeted Inspections: OSHA officers are now authorized to conduct inspections specifically focused on fall hazard activities in several areas, including rooftop mechanical work/maintenance, window and gutter cleaning, and power washing buildings. When OSHA observes potential risks, it can take immediate action without requiring prior incidents or complaints to trigger an inspection.
  2. Educational Outreach: A vital component of the NEP is educating employers and workers about effective fall protection methods. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of fall hazards and the best mitigation practices.
  3. Emphasis on Compliance and Prevention: The program stresses the importance of adhering to OSHA’s fall protection standards. It includes reviewing and ensuring that all required safety measures, such as guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, and training, are in place and effective.

The OSHA NEP on Falls signals an increase in enforcement to prevent fatal and non-fatal falls. Employers, building owners, and property managers must take necessary precautions to minimize fall risks in the workplace and promote worker safety. The NEP’s focus on outreach and compliance assistance also provides a valuable opportunity for employers and industry associations to work with OSHA to reduce fall hazards and improve safety in the workplace.

Why Did OSHA Implement an NEP for Fall Protection?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, fall inspections decreased. However, with the workplace returning to a new normal, there is a renewed focus on fall protection. Here are some compelling statistics and insights supporting a greater emphasis on fall protection:

  • Fall protection remains the top citation for the 13th consecutive year, doubling the second-place citation.
  • In fiscal year 2023, fall protection, ladders, scaffolding, and fall protection training resulted in over 15,000 OSHA citations.
  • Falls remain the leading cause of fatalities and severe workplace injuries.

As inspections began nationally on July 30, 2023, OSHA compliance officers can now open inspections whenever they observe work at heights.

Building Owner Responsibilities Under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Falls

The OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Falls places critical responsibilities on building owners to ensure the safety of workers at heights. This emphasis on fall protection underscores the role of building owners in preventing accidents and maintaining compliance with OSHA standards.

  • Adequate Fall Protection Equipment: Building owners are required to equip their buildings with proper fall protection systems. This includes systems that guard against potential hazards like skylights, guardrails, and roof hatches, which building owners and property managers may overlook.
    • Skylights or any hole over four feet must be safeguarded as per OSHA 1910.28(b)(3)(i).
    • Roof hatches, ladderway floor holes, or platform holes, when open, are considered fall hazards and must comply with OSHA 1910.28(b)(3)(iv).
    • Appropriate fall protection must be provided for parapet walls less than 39 inches in height, as outlined in OSHA 1910.29(b).
  • Documentation and Certification Requirements: Building owners must provide written documentation that certifies the safety of anchors for Rope Descent Systems (RDS) and suspended scaffolds. Each anchorage point must be certified by a qualified person at least every ten years and capable of supporting 5,000 pounds or more in any direction. These systems also require annual inspections by qualified persons.
  • Training Requirements for Building Employees: It’s not just about having the right equipment; building employees working at heights must be adequately trained. OSHA standard 1910.30(a)(1) emphasizes the importance of training employees by a qualified person to recognize and mitigate the risks associated with working at heights. The training must be understandable and cover how to use fall protection systems, set up an area, and retrain employees who lack the skill or understanding to operate safely.
  • Liabilities for Non-Compliance: The repercussions for building owners who fail to comply with these standards are significant. Fall protection violations can result in severe violation fines exceeding $15,000. Willful or repeated offenses can attract fines of over $150,000. Moreover, failure to correct identified issues beyond the given abatement date can result in daily fines of up to $15,625.

By adhering to these responsibilities, building owners contribute significantly to the safety and well-being of workers operating at heights.

Preparing for OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Falls

Building owners must proactively ensure their buildings have the necessary fall protection systems, comply with OSHA regulations, provide necessary documentation and training, and understand the legal and financial consequences of non-compliance.

Preparing for OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Falls is critical for building owners and property managers. To ensure compliance, key steps include:

  1. Safe Roof Access: Ensuring safe and secure access to the roof, including proper pathways and entry points that comply with OSHA’s safety standards.
  2. Safe Roof Walking Surfaces: Regularly inspect and maintain roof walking surfaces to prevent slip and fall accidents.
  3. Edge Protection: Guarding edges and areas over the edge with appropriate fall protection systems such as guardrails or safety nets is mandatory.
  4. Employee Training: Providing comprehensive fall protection training to all building employees working at heights is vital to compliance.
  5. Adequate Fall Protection Equipment/Systems: Maintain adequate fall protection equipment, including guardrails for skylights and roof hatches, and have a qualified person (Professional Engineer) conduct regular inspections and certification of anchors.

Valcourt Building Services offers expert solutions and assistance to help you prepare for OSHA’s NEP on Falls. Contact Valcourt today to ensure your building meets OSHA’s rigorous safety standards and protect your workers from fall hazards.

Plus, watch our 30-minute on-demand webinar “Discover What OSHA’s NEP Means for You” for in-depth insights and guidance on fall protection compliance.


Guidelines for Choosing the Right Building Service Provider

Choosing the right building service provider is paramount for property managers and building owners. The stakes are high, as a poor selection can lead to inadequate maintenance, increased liability, and even property devaluation. Making an informed decision means considering expertise, safety standards, and customer feedback.

This comprehensive guide will assist you in navigating through the selection process, ensuring you partner with a service provider who aligns with your property’s specific needs and maintains its value and integrity.

Consequences of Poor Selection: Liability and Cost Implications

With so much on the line, the consequences of choosing a substandard service provider can lead to significant liability claims, fines, and costly repairs.

  • Premises Liability Claims: This type of claim arises when injuries occur due to a dangerous condition on another person’s property. To establish a premises liability claim, it’s typically necessary to prove three key elements: a dangerous condition existed on the property, the property owner was negligent in creating or not addressing this condition, and this negligence directly resulted in injury or property damage. Building service providers who lack experience, perform low-quality work, or use cheap materials put building owners at greater risk of falling victim to this type of claim.
  • Lost Time Managing Subpar Vendors: Hiring subpar vendors often results in poor communication, lack of follow-through and response time, and rework. Spending time constantly following up with vendors or even chasing down an unresponsive vendor wastes your time. In the long run, you will likely need to find another provider to do the job correctly.
  • Costly Repairs: When vendors fail to make repairs correctly the first time or to perform preventative maintenance, it will lead to expensive repairs. For instance, the cost of correcting someone else’s mistake will most certainly cost more than the original quote. Ignoring preventative maintenance can cause issues to go unnoticed and fester into larger problems.
  • Lower Property Value: Structural integrity, curb appeal, and safety are critical to your property’s value. Unlike factors such as the economy and interest rates, maintaining your property is within your control. One way or another, your choice of building service provider directly impacts the value of your property.

Selecting a reliable and competent service provider is crucial for efficient property management, property value, and avoiding repeated interventions, hassles, and expenses.

Selecting the Right Building Service Provider

The ideal building service provider should not only fit within your budget but also possess the capabilities to meet your property’s unique demands. Make it a priority to choose a building service provider who aligns well with your objectives and ensures that your property is maintained effectively, enhancing its value and appeal. This decision is about more than just immediate service needs; it’s about forming a partnership that supports your property’s ongoing success and sustainability.

1. Evaluate for Expertise and Experience

Evaluating a building service provider’s expertise and experience is a crucial step. You can achieve this by exploring several avenues, such as online reviews, the provider’s website, and direct inquiries.

  • Online Reviews and Ratings: Check online platforms like Google, Yelp, or industry-specific sites for reviews and ratings. These can provide insights into the provider’s performance and customer satisfaction levels.
  • Provider’s Website: Visit their official website to explore case studies, project portfolios, and testimonials. This information often reflects their experience and areas of specialization.
  • Professional Networks: Contact your network of property owners and managers for recommendations and firsthand experiences with various providers.
  • Industry Forums and Online Communities: Engage in forums or platforms where property management professionals discuss and share experiences with different service providers.
  • Direct Inquiry: Contact the provider directly and request detailed information about their past projects, years in business, and client references.

These methods can collectively provide a comprehensive understanding of a provider’s expertise and reliability in the field.

2. Assess the Provider’s Service Offerings

When selecting a building service provider, it’s vital to ensure they offer a comprehensive range of services that cater to the diverse needs of your buildings. This adaptability is crucial for addressing unique maintenance requirements effectively.

  • Wide Range of Services: A proficient provider should offer various services, such as window cleaning, waterproofing, and concrete and leak repair. This flexibility includes customizing maintenance plans, adjusting service schedules, and being able to handle unforeseen issues promptly.
  • Specialized Solutions: Providers should have tailored solutions catering to these building types, showcasing their understanding and expertise in various fields.
  • Resource Availability: Examine the provider’s resources, including their workforce, equipment, and technological capabilities. These resources should align with the scale and complexity of your building’s maintenance needs.
  • Commitment to Preventative Maintenance: A focus on proactive strategies to mitigate wear and tear is essential. This approach helps maintain the building’s aesthetics and structural integrity, prolonging its lifespan.

A building service provider’s ability to offer wide-ranging, specialized, and flexible services, supported by adequate resources and a preventative approach, is crucial in selecting the right partner for your building’s maintenance needs.

3. Ensure Safety Standards and Compliance

Prioritizing safety in building maintenance is non-negotiable. Ensure the provider adheres to industry-standard safety protocols and requires OSHA-required certifications & inspections when suspending from your roof anchorages. A commitment to ongoing employee training and safety education is vital.

This commitment to safety protects workers and ensures the integrity and security of your property.

  • OSHA Certifications: Confirm that the provider has relevant safety training certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other industry associations, like OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 training. These certifications are indicators of a provider’s dedication to maintaining high safety standards in their operations.
  • Standards & Regulations: Question your provider’s knowledge of compliance with various regulatory bodies. This knowledge demonstrates their commitment to following legal safety requirements and industry best practices.
  • Ongoing Training and Education: Evaluate the provider’s commitment to continuous employee training and safety education. Regular training ensures that the workforce is up-to-date with the latest safety protocols and techniques, minimizing risks and enhancing the quality of service.

A safety-minded building service provider adheres to regulatory compliance and fosters a safe working environment, safeguarding the workforce, tenants, and property.

4. Review Risk Mitigation Capabilities

Assessing risk mitigation capabilities involves examining whether the provider is sufficiently equipped to manage and minimize potential risks associated with building maintenance, repairs, and emergencies. Such capabilities are pivotal in ensuring the provider can support your property effectively, not just under normal circumstances but also in unexpected situations that may arise.

  • Licensed, Bonded, and Insured: A building service provider that is licensed, bonded, and insured offers legal credibility, financial protection against potential job failures or damages, and insurance coverage for accidents or liabilities.
  • Proactive Business Continuity Approach: The ideal provider will have well-developed business continuity and emergency preparedness plans. For example, evaluating the work site for hazards before starting a job, planning active job-site hours when it’s best for the safety of your property and its tenants, properly blocking off the job site area, and having emergency rescue plans when using suspended access equipment.
  • Emergency Preparedness: A provider with robust emergency response protocols, such as emergency leak repair, ensures that your property receives prompt and effective service during critical situations, minimizing potential damage and downtime.

A building service provider who prioritizes risk mitigation understands the impacts on your tenants and property when things don’t go as planned. A provider who has this mindset ensures prompt building repairs and takes measures to prevent future problems.

5. Making Your Selection

After narrowing down your choices based on expertise, service offerings, safety standards, and risk mitigation, it’s time to make the final selection. This crucial step involves a detailed evaluation of how each candidate aligns with your needs and goals.

  • Request and Compare Proposals: Review detailed proposals from your shortlisted providers. Assess how each proposal addresses your requirements, including service scope, timelines, and cost.
  • Site Visits and Meetings: Arrange site visits or meetings with potential providers. Observe their professionalism and ask in-depth questions about their approach to your project.
  • Final Evaluation: Consider all the information gathered, including feedback from references. Evaluate each provider’s ability to deliver quality services within your budget.

Choose the provider who best fits your criteria and demonstrates the capability to maintain and enhance your property effectively. Remember, the right provider is not just a contractor but a partner in maintaining your property’s value and functionality.

Valcourt’s Expertise in Building Services

At Valcourt Building Services, we pride ourselves on offering an extensive range of specialized building services. Our expertise encompasses waterproofing, window cleaning, facade repair and restoration, rapid leak repair, comprehensive safety system installations, and anchor inspections & certifications. We are committed to delivering high-quality services tailored to meet the unique needs of each building.

Our team, equipped with industry-leading knowledge and tools, ensures every project upholds the highest standards of safety and excellence. Contact Valcourt today and partner with a team dedicated to preserving and enhancing the value and functionality of your property.