A woman walking down a wet city street with flash flooding.

How Heavy Rain Can Damage Commercial Buildings

Crisp air, Halloween retail popups and vibrant foliage must mean one thing: autumn has arrived! For some, this means frequent check-ins with their fantasy football team while manning the wood smoker.  For others it’s sipping a pumpkin-spiced latte while binging true crime in a snuggly sweater.  However, above the peaceful calm, weather patterns are getting decidedly wetter.   Water damage from heavy rains can occur due to leaky roofs, windows, or ground water flooding. These can be the most significant challenges that any commercial building will face.  In this post we will explore how heavy rain can create costly damage to commercial buildings.

The Wrath Of Autumn

In the fall, weather patterns can fluctuate between warm and cold, creating low-pressure conditions and rain in the forecast.  Under the right conditions, atmospheric rivers can dump heavy amounts of water in a hurry. As leaves fall and block gutters and drains, the rainwater accumulates, increasing the risk of water damage to buildings.  Then there’s the issue of water puddling on flat rooftops. This can get heavy and eventually the water will look for some place to travel…

In addition, prolonged periods of precipitation can saturate the ground, causing the water table to rise.  When this happens, basements and parking garages can be at risk.  

Examples of Heavy Rain Damage to Commercial Buildings

  • Water damage to windows: a sign that your windows have sustained water damage is a build-up of condensation between the panes of glass. This condensation can be caused by a leak in the sealant around the window. Another sign that your windows have sustained water damage is the noticeable warping or bending of the frame. This warping can be caused by exposure to moisture, which causes the wood to expand and contract. You may also notice peeling or flaking paint around the frame. This peeling paint can be caused by exposure to moisture, which causes the paint to blister and peel away from the surface. 
  • Foundation damage:  Rising groundwater can wreak havoc on concrete foundations.  Excessive moisture can even cause cracking and instability.  This is particularly problematic in older buildings. 
  • Basement flooding:  The same cracks from excessive moisture can lead to water intrusion into interior spaces.  Water seeping into a building can wet insulation or drywall, which can lead to mold growth.  
  • Structural damage:  Moisture from heavy rains can penetrate building materials, leading to rot and deterioration.  Wooden structures in particular are susceptible to decay when exposed to prolonged wet conditions.  Overtime, this can compromise the structural integrity of the building.  
Example of water damage to ceiling tiles.
Bubbles, stains, and cracks in ceiling tiles mean water damage.

How to Prevent Heavy Rains from Damaging your Facility 

  • Gutter maintenance: You should routinely clean and maintain your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage.  This prevents water from overflowing, pooling, and cascading down into places it isn’t welcome.
  • Foundation sealing:  Consider talking with your local waterproofing company to address the sealing of any cracks or gaps in your foundation to prevent water intrusion.  
  • Conduct regular inspections: Regular inspections of your facility’s exterior and interior will help to catch and address potential issues before they become major problems. 
  • Exterior cleaning: make sure storm drains are clean and clear of blockage.  FYI: don’t assume that your local city government has the time or manpower to do this. Routinely remove fallen leaves from all exterior areas. And not just from the landscaping. 
  • Talk with your janitorial company.  Your janitorial company is another set of eyes on your building, especially during the weekends, or at night.  A good janitorial company should be proactive and immediately report things like wet ceiling tiles or pools of water.  Many janitorial companies are able to help with the initial water extraction effort. 
  • Develop a relationship with a trusted restoration company.  Despite all efforts, sometimes things happen.  Restoration companies specialize in proper remediation of water damage and it’s negative effects including mold(!)
Storm drain taking in heavy rain water.
A free-flowing storm drain. Lookin’ good!

In Conclusion

Autumn’s heavy rains, while seemingly innocuous, can pose a bigger threat than most property managers realize.  The next time you’re slow-sipping that giant latte, consider perusing your exterior areas and examine your facility for potential weak spots.  Whether you’re a Mom and Pop shop, or part of a big organization with a facility maintenance team, now is the best time of year to take proactive measures.   By investing in preventative strategies you can minimize your risk and enjoy the rainy weekend that much more.  

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