Question: Robert, I live in Santa Clarita in a homeowner’s association where I am a board member. We have a parking ramp, which takes us down inside our garage. I’ve submitted photos to show two cracks on top of the ramp and the bottom. There is water entering these cracks, causing leaks to the below areas, and we are being told many different things in order to solve the issue. We are not contractors so are wary of following any of this advice because not one is like the other. One tells us to open the cracks more and put some kind of caulking in them. Another tells us to break out the top of the ramp and the last says to put a waterproofing system onto this entire ramp. We are just not sure which direction to go so we as a group decided to ask you for your recommendation. Mark E.
Answer: Mark, the big question is, what is your budget? I’m a firm believer in “do it once, do it right.” However, the budget ultimately decides what can be done. Being that the one contractor spoke of breaking out the top part of this ramp, it sounds to me like you have a structure with a topping slab. If this is the case, the optimal repair would be to remove this topping slab and waterproof properly below it, followed by repouring a new slab. This option of course is going to be the most expensive. However, it is a permanent fix, and you won’t have this issue again. Another option to minimize the water intrusion at least for a time is to do what we call, “chase the crack.” This means that you’d take a v-wheel and grind the crack to enlarge it in the shape of a “v” and then fill it with a single-stage urethane. This is often a help but definitely not a guarantee for either success or longevity, as concrete is porous, and the water could find a way under the urethane at a higher point and ultimately leak once again. The last option would be to install an overlay system, but this would require flashing on both sides. To install an overlay without flashing simply makes another seam at the edges where water could access. Ultimately your budget will decide but if you can work it out to redo what the builder originally did and install proper waterproofing and a new slab, this would be my vote. Best of luck.
Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].