Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Structural

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

Post-Fire Inspection of Steel, Concrete, Masonry and Wood – Tips for an Insurance Adjuster, Part 2

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This is the second part of a 3-Part series to help insurance adjusters during a claim inspection to make a post-fire assessment of a building’s structural framing system.  Part 2 investigates and assesses the future use of common post fire structural framing elements such as steel, concrete, masonry and wood.  These more common structural elements take on different and specific characteristics when they are exposed to a fire.  It’s important for the adjuster to make reasonable, cost saving assessments on what remains, what is to be repaired, what gets demolished and what gets replaced. Read More

Structural Evaluation After a Fire – Post-Fire Tips for an Insurance Adjuster, Part I

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This is a 3-Part series to help insurance adjusters during a claim inspection make a post-fire assessment of a building’s structural framing system.  From my numerous case history inspections involving damage to structural framing members after a fire, what appears obvious and straightforward is not always the case.  This article is a quick synopsis to help the adjuster be better prepared for a structural inspection and assessment while understanding what needs to be looked at, and if there are hidden factors to further investigate. Read More

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

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

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

Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Flood Damage Assessment – Part I

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Recently, I read an article from the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) explaining the difference between “Flood Damage” and “Water Damage” that really hit home and I wanted to share with you again.  “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop should be there.  With dismay, you discover that your home is filled with damaging water.  Will your insurance policy cover this loss?”   Read More

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

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

What is a Building Envelope?

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By definition, the building envelope (or building enclosure) is the physical separation between the interior conditioned areas and the exterior environment space of a building. The envelope serves as the outer covering (shell or skin) to help maintain the indoor environment together with the mechanical conditioning systems and to facilitate its climate control. The building envelope must be carefully designed with regard to site specific climate, ventilation, and energy consumption within the structure. The design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control. Read More

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