Trinity’s Water Woes

Trinity in the 1880s

Soon after Trinity’s building was first completed in 1860s rain water started seeping in. The problem was most likely poor construction methods combined with the use of very porous brick. Over the next hundred years, many attempts were made to alleviate the seepage—with mixed results. Finally, in the 1950’s, Trinity added a state-of-the-art facade made of a product optimistically named Permastone. The facade changed the look of Trinity from a nineteenth century Germanesque structure, to a Gothic style structure like one might find in medieval England or France.

The Permastone did the trick. So in 1956, convinced the walls were not free from seepage, every bit of the plaster in the church, most of it cracked and crumbling, was chiseled away and entirely new plaster walls were put in its place. The members of Trinity enjoyed a church that was free of dank, moldy, crumbling walls for the first time that anyone could remember. The walls stayed solid and dry for at least thirty years.

…as the new century rolled around, plastering and painting was getting to be a full time job. Expert after expert was brought in, but try as they might, no one was able to locate the source of the leaks or come up with a solution.

However, in the 1970’s paint started peeling from the walls in a few areas indicating a moisture problem. By the 1980’s sections of the walls were showing efflorescence, a sure sign of moisture seeping through the walls. Work was done to repair the roof and gutters, believed to be the source of the leaks. By the 1990’s Rev. Schmidt and the men of the church kept busy re-plastering and repainting the same troublesome areas and as the new century rolled around, plastering and painting was getting to be a full time job. Expert after expert was brought in, but try as they might, no one was able to locate the source of the leaks or come up with a solution. In desperation, Trinity was about to undertake the installation of an entire new roof, including capping the tops of the walls in the Education Building with galvanized flashing.

As it happened, Rev. Schmidt met the acquaintance of a consultant for older structures specializing in water proofing, Mike Watermeier. Mr. Watermeier had a great deal of experience with buildings like Trinity’s and new quite a bit about Permastone.  It seems that Permastone is not as permanent as the manufacture had hoped and was especially prone to leaking. Under Mr. Watermeier’s supervision, a water proof treatment was applied to the Permastone increasing its ability to shed water. In addition, some of the older flashing was replaced and the entire church recaulked and sealed. Overseeing the work was the congregation president Mike Grant.

After the work was completed and the scaffolding and lift trucks removed, Mr. Grant made repeated trips to Trinity every time it rained to look for signs of moisture seepage. Once he was convinced the walls were dry and likely to stay dry, work was begun on replacing the crumbling plaster.
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D_Brugge
About the Author: David Brugge is a Layman at Trinity where he serves as an Elder. He attended St. Paul’s College High in Concordia, MO. and Concordia College in Seward, NE.