Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: HVAC systems

  1. The Condensate System – An Important Item in Routine HVAC Maintenance

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    HVAC systems are almost everywhere in the United States now.  As a life-long resident of the humid south that grew up in a home without central air conditioning; I definitely appreciate the ability of a well-designed and maintained HVAC system to remove the oppressive summer humidity.

    The very humidity that makes your clothes damp with sweat and hastened the invention of cooled leather seats in automobiles also has another route to create havoc…condensate.

    In order for an HVAC or “air-conditioning system” to reduce the humidity in the air of your home or office it must first cool the air down to a point where the air can no longer keep the moisture in suspension as water vapor.  The moisture must condense… creating condensate.  This is what is happening when your cool beverage of choice “sweats” on the exterior of the container in the humid summer. Now that you have liquid water, as opposed to water vapor, this condensate must be directed out of your conditioned space to prevent water damage due to backed up or leaking condensate. (more…)

  2. Water in the Light Fixtures??? How HVAC Defects Appear in Strange Places

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    One of my more interesting calls and subsequent forensic investigations was regarding water accumulating inside of 2X4 fluorescent light fixtures in a suspended ceiling of a secondary school in South Carolina.

    The client called and indicated that the metal chassis of the lights were sweating and generating enough water to accumulate on the diffuser lens of the lights.  Obviously, an on-site investigation was in order! (more…)

  3. Hail Isn’t Cool

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    Hail property damage is frequently reported after an HVAC service call.  Building owners are often unaware there is damage until the power bill starts trending higher and the HVAC system is simply not cooling effectively. Take look at the fins! The National Weather Service reported over $722 million in property damage from hail in 2018.  Based on NWS data, hail caused more property damage than tornadoes or thunderstorms.  Only Tropical Storms/Hurricanes at $12 billion, coastal storms at $1 billion and flooding at $1 billion were more costly than hail to property.

    One of the items very susceptible to damage is the HVAC system.  The heat that is removed from the interior of a building must be rejected to the environment.   As such the HVAC system is placed where it can have unhindered access to outdoor air in order to function properly.  This often results in the unit being placed in a large open space such as a rooftop, making it susceptible to damage such as hail.  (more…)

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