When Water Management Becomes a Structural Issue
It’s obviously very early to be drawing conclusions about the recent Florida apartment building collapse, but the initial observations lifted from a 2018 review by a structural engineering firm are sobering. Some of them are mentioned in the article here: https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-miami-area-condo-collapse/2021/06/26/1010542570/florida-condo-structural-damage-engineers-report-surfside-miami
I want to be very clear here on primary vs. secondary sources, but the secondary sources (i.e. the above referenced news article and others) report that the engineering firm commented on damage to concrete due to failed waterproofing details of a pool level because of improper slope and drainage.
The spalling due to water damage is interesting as we often discuss here about concrete’s ability to be wet and suffer no ill effects. Spalling would typically be associated with colder climates where water in the concrete could freeze, but that’s obviously not the case in Florida. It will be interesting to see further analysis of these underlying issues. Thinking off the top of my head–one wonders if the spalling could have been symptomatic of corrosion of rebar brought on by the water issues.
Here, we deal largely in single family, wood framed structures, which of course are incredibly important to the handful of people that occupy them. We’ll see how this particular incident plays out, but I can’t help but think that it’s a good reminder of, despite our frequent quibbling over details, sometimes details really do matter.
GBA Detail Library
A collection of one thousand construction details organized by climate and house part