Tom Perry: Technologist for Concrete & Waterproofing at Sika Limited

Companies like Sika, with a long-standing reputation for quality and service, cannot simply rest on their laurels when it comes to launching new products and technologies, keeping new and existing customers happy, as well as pushing the Sika brand forward into ever competitive markets. It takes everyone’s commitment and personal influence to make each product successful whether it’s Research and Development, Technical Services, or Sales to name but a few. This dedication is what makes Sika such a success.

My role as a Technologist in the Target Market Concrete & Waterproofing department is as varied as the products we offer. No two jobs are ever the same… unless it’s a lift pit. Being a primary contact between Sika and the customer on-site as well as “boots on the ground” for Sika allows us to provide an unparalleled service. It also allows us to give feedback on product performance, customer comments and technical advice.

Toolbox Talks

On site demonstrations and training directly to the workers who will be installing the products. Providing this service will demonstrate best practice and can quickly and easily remove any ambiguity in the products installation and to highlight any limitation or caveat which present themselves on the job. Workers may have used similar products in the past but this does not mean to say the application is similar. “Don’t nail the waterbar down” or “It’s got a minimum W/C ratio for a reason” and “I know it smells like Marzipan, but don’t eat it!” are commonly used phrases!

 

For example: If the water table of the site is known to be high and it can be seen that water is flowing from the ground into the build area where SikaSwell has been specified for the construction joints, we can avoid the scenario where the waterbar is damaged by this ingress by highlighting the risk and offering an alternative product such as the Tricosal metal waterbar which wouldn’t be damaged by pooling water.

Site Inspections

This is the bulk of the role and is exactly as it sounds! The customer must arrange regular inspections of the waterproofing works to check it conforms to specification. We would view the area in the presence of the customer and comment on the installation. 9 out of 10 times everything would be correct and we can furnish the customer with a report, accepting liability that the product will perform as it should. There is, of course the odd time that something has been overlooked, omitted, damaged or in some cases completely forgotten! These areas will be listed and photographed with recommendations on how to remediate the area to an acceptable standard. On other occasions we can just fix it for them whilst we’re stood there! If a problem were to arise in this area after the job was complete, these reports would be critical in establishing the cause and liability of any ingress or damage.

 

Typical things we would look for on an inspection are the correct placement and detailing of waterbars in the construction joints. Sikaswell waterbars requires a minimum 75mm cover-to-face within the concrete; if it was to be placed outside of this cover then there is a risk that the waterbar would spall the concrete when it swells. It can be impressively destructive if this happens so it’s the first thing we would check. With the SikaProof® membranes it’s important that it gets an inspection before and after the steelwork is installed. The membrane may have been perfectly laid out and sealed but if the following trades pierce, tear or burn the membrane then the waterproofing is compromised.

Final Inspections

Once all waterproofing works have been completed and any outstanding remedial action has been taken care of, we would have a final walk around the area with the customer ensuring that everything is working as it should. Sometimes sites can get a little ahead of themselves and brick up or plasterboard over some elements, but we have a wealth of gadgetry and tools to help us check every corner and cavity. From telescopic cameras to moisture meters, lap strength picks to weld strength tests. It only takes a small amount of water damage to look disastrous so we would check to see if any areas of concrete have been under-compacted leading to honeycombing which is basically a free passage of water to flow through concrete, or if any cracks have appeared in walls or slabs. Most importantly we check that no water has permeated the structure through joints and penetrations. If any are found, we can assess the level of ingress and react accordingly. Some ingressions may “self-heal” where the salts from the concrete will seal a crack by itself, or if this isn’t a possibility we can look at resin injection of the joint to stop the leak permanently.

CPD/Demos

Full practical demonstrations of multiple waterproofing systems as part of a Specification manager’s presentation to architects and construction companies, or as part of a seminar where we can have Roofing, Refurbishment and Flooring, Sealing and Bonding, Industry and Waterproofing all showcasing their products. This is a great way of showing potential customers that Sika has a solution from basement to roof and everything in between.