Water Vapor Mitigation

Water Vapor Mitigation in Commercial Foundations

Water Vapor Intrusion in Commercial Buildings & How to Fix It

Have you consistently noticed dampness on a concrete slab in your building? Does the flooring in your building show signs of vinyl and epoxy bubbling or glue re-emulsification?

In Arizona, slab-on-grade foundations are common in commercial, warehouse, retail, and industrial settings. Slab moisture problems stemming from our clay-rich expansive soils are also quite common. If your concrete slabs are constantly wet or showing signs of slab heave, the underlying cause could be water vapor infiltrating from below the slab.

At Arizona Foundation Solutions, we've spent decades perfecting remedies to issues caused by water vapor intrusion, targeting not just the symptoms, but the source. Utilizing our proprietary MoistureLevel® Smart Foundation System, we'll eliminate the causes and damaging effects of your foundation's wet concrete slabs.

Causes of Water Vapor Intrusion

Why is your slab on-grade foundation wet? Moisture vapor and liquid water is pushed upward from vacuum pressures in the sub-slab (the stack effect). Contributing factors can include voids under the foundation, groundwater from a high water table, irrigation systems, and damaged pipes. Excess water in the concrete from initial construction (referred to as "water of convenience") is another common scenario, caused when the water in the concrete doesn't properly bind with cement particles. Remember, concrete is a porous material!

Signs of a Water Vapor Intrusion Problem

It's important to diagnose a water vapor problem correctly. Foundation settlement can be confused with foundation heave, and the underlying causes of each and their proper solutions vary widely. Traditional water vapor mitigation solutions are not ideal, involving the installation of a sealer on the top side of the concrete slab. When this teqhnique is applied, hydrostatic pressure will push sealers off and cause them to fail over time. The problem can be exacerbated when tile flooring or other flooring is placed on top of concrete slabs, effectively trapping in moisture. This can lead to adhesives failing, coatings de-bonding, and other expensive damage. In general, using sealants to solve a vapor intrusion issue is at best a temporary remedy, not a long-lasting solution.

Signs of Water Vapor Damage

  • Damp Concrete Slab Foundation
  • Adhesive and Bond Failure: Adhesives, mandated to be water-soluble by the EPA, will soften and re-emulsify when exposed to moisture over time, weakening the bonds of tiles and other flooring to the slab.
  • Tile Delamination: Flooring tiles will loosen and detach from their desired location.
  • Efflorescence: Surfaces can display white, chalky deposits of salt or sulfates that remain after intruding water has evaporated.
  • Bubbling Epoxy: Epoxy sealers will bubble when exposed to moisture from below, indicating a water vapor issue.
  • Damaged Building Materials: Water seeping onto the slab can damage building materials, wood, and drywall, leading to structural damage.
  • Mold Growth Under Floor/Walls
  • Odors and Health Risks: Excess water will usually cause a musty smell, while mold growth can lead to several health problems for occupants of your building. Noticeable changes in odor should be investigated.
  • Degradation of Concrete: Vapor transmission through a concrete slab will over time contribute to the deterioration of your concrete, accelerating structural issues. Chipping, cracking, and crumbling can all be signs of a water vapor issue.

Our Solution: Water Vapor Mitigation Process

How it Works - Our foundation repair technique borrows from reliable radon mitigation technology, using a fan and plastic pipe to create air movement and suction on the under-slab soil. Introducing outside air to the damp soil causes evaporation, making it possible to reduce soil moisture content and mitigate damaging soil expansion. Designed with protections to minimize any over-drying near the footing area, MoistureLevel® Smart Foundation System also has a smart mechanism that monitors soil moisture content and protects from over-drying.

  • Redirect Stack Effect Forces: Using a sub-slab depressurization system, we depressurize the soil beneath the foundation or slab floor. Once this is done, unwanted vapors can be redirected as required.
  • Redirect Water Vapor: Holes are drilled in the slab or surrounding earth to create a suction point on the surface. PVC piping is connected to the suction point, through which the gasses will be vented. This pipe can be installed inside of the structure or outside, depending on customer requirements.
  • Vent Gasses: Using a fan located at the top of the structure, gasses are constantly pulled through the exhaust piping and vented to the outdoors, away from your structure.
  • Seal Entry and Exit Points: The final step of the process involves identifying and sealing common gas entry areas, such as fittings around pipes, cracks in the foundation, gaps between footings and walls, and more. When this has been completed, gasses are forced through the sub-slab depressurization system, then pulled through the exhaust piping to the air outside the structure.

Our system is innovative, proprietary, and proven, providing a less intrusive, cost-effective solution to a complex problem in commercial foundations.

Get Your Estimate Today

If you're ready to do away with your structure's water vapor intrusion problem, then it's time to call the experts at Arizona Foundation Solutions.

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