Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Construction Defects

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down… Retaining Wall Basics

A wall is really boring until it fails. A retaining wall is supposed to hold back soil to either support a structure or keep a space clear. When it fails, both of those roles are compromised. A retaining wall does not have to collapse to fail. In fact, a failure is perhaps better defined as when the wall does not perform as expected. Read More

Fire Place with Gas Logs

Stop or I’ll Soot!!!

Fire. Something about fire touches our brainstems…both good and bad!  Uncontrolled fire is terrifying and deadly to be sure.  But the controlled burning of wood at a campfire or in a fireplace in your home almost can’t be beat, to my mind! For that very reason, a fairly common amenity to houses nowadays is the gas log fireplace insert.

When not installed properly, these logs will generate soot. These soot particles can leave the fireplace and meander.  All. Over. Your. House.  Read More

Electric Hazard Guardrail photo

Hazards Can Lurk Anywhere … Watch Your Step …

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While on a lunch stop during a recent vacation trip through Tennessee, I happened across a safety hazard that required immediate attention.  The establishment had a raised concrete patio at the front with a steel railing around the perimeter.  At one edge of the patio was a set of stairs with a continuation of the steel railing used as a handrail.  The top edge of the patio had light strings wrapping the top metal bar as accent lighting for the perimeter.  The light string continued down the stair handrail wrapped in the same manner as the rest of the patio. 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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