Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Construction Defects

Wood Deck Safety Check

Springtime is here! That means we’ll be looking around the house and making a priority list of spring-cleaning projects.  And, for many of us, giving our wood decks a good cleaning gets put at or near the top of the list.  That’s all well and good, however, we should take it a little further and put checking out how safe and secure are our wood decks, particularly those that are built several feet or more above grade. Read More

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Water Damage from Leaking Shower Stalls

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Have you ever had to have a leaking shower pan for a tiled shower stall replaced, only to have a recurrence a few years later? If so, it is likely that it was not properly built and/or repaired. In most installations, the shower stall is constructed with an underlying one-piece flexible membrane of PVC that is attached to the wall studs before the backer board and wall tile is installed. No nails or screws should penetrate the membrane below the level of the curb of the shower stall. The only opening in the membrane below the curb must be the hole for the shower drain to connect to the house plumbing. The shower drain is designed to allow water on top of the membrane to flow into the drain via weep holes for that purpose. Read More

Corrosion on treated wood deck.

Why Should I be Concerned About Galvanic Corrosion?

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It is fairly common knowledge that the use of dissimilar metals in plumbing systems can quickly result in a leak due to a corroded pipe or fitting. Read More

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Uninvited House Guests: Mold and Other Fungal Growths

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The wet, relatively warm weather recently experienced in the southeast has caused a high incidence of mold and other fungal growth complaints in homes and other structures.  Engineers at Warren Group are often called upon to investigate the cause(s) of these problems. Read More

A condensate drain that has been obstructed by nesting animals.

Air Conditioning Evaporators

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This is the third and final of three articles concerning the basics of air conditioning systems.  This article concerns the evaporator, a part of the air conditioning system that is usually unseen inside the air handling unit. The evaporator, in concert with a fan, supplies cool air to a building interior. Read More

A typical residential HVAC Unit.

Air Conditioning Condensing Units

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The condensing unit is a key component of all vapor compression air conditioning systems.  We are all familiar with condensing units as the noisy exterior portions of air conditioning systems that blow hot air to the environment. Read More

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Air Conditioning System Basics

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Air conditioning systems are everywhere in our lives – at home, in our vehicles, at work, in manufacturing facilities – yet most people give them little thought other than setting a comfortable temperature until they stop working or malfunction in some other way. Read More

Roof drain with membrane installed in opening.

Water Intrusion/Moisture Issues – Finding the Source and Location

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What you see is not always what you get.  This commonality exists in the numerous cases I have investigated for water intrusion and moisture issues in buildings.  The source that appears most obvious and straightforward may not, in fact, be the root of the problem at all. Read More

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Collapses of Decks, Balconies and Railings: An Engineer’s Viewpoint for an Adjuster

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Most failures of decks, balconies and railings can be avoidable if properly designed but when a collapse occurs it usually leads to personal injuries and even death. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), “It’s estimated that 2.5 million new or replacement decks were built last year.  Almost every new home being built today includes an elevated deck or porch. And, existing decks on older homes are being replaced at a very high rate. In fact, the number of personal injuries and deaths related to decks each year is likely to continue to rise because more decks are being constructed each year and existing decks are deteriorating.” Let’s examine the design, construction and inspection of these systems. Read More

Foundation issues

Identifying Foundation Issues for Adjusters

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As a structural engineer, I am often called upon to determine the cause of commercial and residential building problems. Common problems I investigate include doors or windows that don’t open properly, cracks in interior and exterior walls, gaps in the trim, leaking roofs when the exterior covering is otherwise in good condition, sloped and out-of-level floors and leaning walls. Many of these problems are a direct result of foundation cracks, settlements and/or failures. Read More

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