In defense of roofs
Water infiltration in a hospital is just bad news all around—unsanitary, mold-producing, patient-disrupting, and staff-annoying. However, today I am writing in defense of roofs, almost always blamed for any leak but not always the culprit! In both the design phase reviews and the actual construction, we need to keep our eye on foundation details, exterior wall details, window assemblies, door assemblies, and building joints in addition to the roofing. All of these can and do play a role in preventing water infiltration. After construction, I frequently find that building movement comes into play, which causes joints, windows, and doors to allow water into the building. In very old buildings, I find masonry joints that have lost their mortar as well as flashings, windows, and doors that have deteriorated with age. I would urge hospital facility staff to make it a regular inspection item for their buildings—to go and look at all of these things before water starts running in. If problems are detected, make sure that the fix includes removing all old saturated materials and not just resealing over a problem area.