As the winter months quickly approach, moisture builds and the resulting leaks in buildings become a more prevalent problem that needs to be quickly addressed. At their core, many building leaks that are properly investigated are linked to envelop failures. Read on to learn more about how moisture finds its way into your building, and ways it can be removed.

What is a ‘building envelope’?

Simply put, building envelope refers to the entire assembly that separates an interior conditioned space from the exterior or unconditioned spaces in the home. Different components of a building’s envelope include the foundation, walls, roofs, and all surfaces including drywall, insulation, paint, and more.

Your buildings envelope acts as a barrier for moisture entry, accumulation, and removal (commonly referred to in the industry as EAR), focusing on blocking four main elements: liquid water, air, water vapour, and thermal transfer. When the envelope structure of building experiences a ‘failure’, leaks are most likely to occur. The following are ways moisture can enter a building, as well as corresponding methods to circumvent build up.

Bulk moisture movement

Bulk moisture movement refers to the movement of moisture in liquid form that enters the building through an entryway in your envelope design. Overhangs and flashings help deflect water from finding openings, as do other design features. Deflection is a great first line of defense. However, it does not fully guarantee water will not find a way in.

Capillary Suction

Capillary suction, in layman’s terms, is the act of liquids spreading throughout materials they come into contact with. The material “sucks” up the moisture, and then naturally seeks to have it spread. To prevent this from happening, having a capillary “break”, such as a rain screen behind a stucco wall or sealing a foundation with paint or tar, can help.

Air Transported Movement

As the name suggests, this is when air carries moisture into a building.The larger the volume of air and/or the higher the temperature of the air, the more moisture that the air can carry. Entrance is usually facilitated by a difference of pressure on the exterior and interior of the structure. To stop air from carrying water in, ensure proper sealing methods like caulking and stagger gaps are in place.


Condensation is a big culprit when it comes to building leaks, often caused by humidity. Humidity becomes more of a concern during the summer and the winter when sudden temperatures changes lead to more moisture build up in the air. To circumvent this, making sure you have sufficient ventilation and heating circulation during the colder months will help.

Common signs to look for

  • Visible standing water
  • Water stains
  • Warping paint or wallpaper
  • Cracks
  • Presence of mould

If you fear that you may have a leak on your premises, it’s best to consult a professional with the right tools and equipment to accurately assess your damage before it has the chance to spread. Orata’s team of experts can help design repairs and alterations for your building envelope to eliminate leaks and ensure future prevention. Contact us today to learn more!