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Rain screen – The Solution to a Leaky Condo

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Leaky Condos

The term ‘leaky condo’ is pretty specific to the lower mainland and refers to many of the condo buildings built between the late 1980s and mid-1990s, though not limited to this era.

It came about due to a construction boom that was occurring at that time. Designers from other parts of the world, namely California, were brought to the lower mainland to help keep up with the demand for buildings.

The issue with the design during this time, in easy terms, is that moisture would not be allowed to vacate the wall cavity. Instead, it would remain in the wall cavity which would cause rot, mold, or other structural issues over time.

A new wall assembly system was developed which commonly referred to as Rain Screen.

Rain screen – The Solution to a Leaky Condo

This type of wall system essentially, again in easy terms, allows moisture that either penetrates or remains within the wall system, to escape through a gap.

This gap also allows air to circulate, so that it can reduce the chance of rot forming from consistent contact with moisture.

How Can I tell if a Building is Rain screened?

You can easily tell if a building has a rain screen by feeling under the exterior wall. If you feel a gap under it, likely it's been updated with a rain screen.

Another way to figure out of a building is rain screened, is to observe the exterior wall. If there are what appear to be ‘sections’ separated by flashing, it's likely been rain screened. The key is to look for that gap under the wall.

Horizontal plank-style cladding, such as vinyl, wood, or hardiboard, naturally act as a rain screen based on how it was installed. They will already have air gaps underneath the material due to the nature of the ‘plank’ style of cladding.

Risks of not having Rain screen

If a condo unit has not been rain-screened, then you can expect some talk of it in the strata minutes going forward. Because it is quite an expensive bill, it is important that when you are considering purchasing a building without rain-screen that you take a good hard look at the contingency reserve fund. To add the rain-screen they will most likely take a portion out of the contingency and special levy the rest to the owners, so you could possibly expect a very large bill going forward. If you’re looking at a building older than 2006, always make sure to check whether it’s been rain-screened.

Contact Us at Zinc Inspections if you have any questions or concerns about your property:



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