When it comes to problems with building enclosures, the solution is usually never as simple as it seems. You may think a small pool of water in your office is just the result of a little leak in need of repair, but most of the time the root cause is much larger. The average person likely won’t be able to find the problem when a building envelope fails. In fact, it usually takes a structural engineering company to inspect the building to determine the true root cause. Building envelope forensics requires a basic knowledge, combined with expert investigative work, to get to the bottom of the issue.
Understand How the System Works
When an engineering expert surveys your building, they will look beyond the surface. Some of the main components the experts will look at include air leakage, insulation, water management, vapor diffusion and differential movement. These factors are interrelated and could all cause building envelope issues. Just because you have a puddle of water in your office doesn’t mean a pipe is leaking. You could have a small air leak, which causes condensation to build up and drip. Sometimes you can identify problems like this with your regular maintenance crew, but most of the time it requires an expert.
Check for Exterior and Interior Signs Periodically
Never ignore the typical warning signs of a building envelope issue in your office. If you see anycracking or signs of moisture inside or outside the building, it’s best to seek the advice of a qualified forensic structural engineering company. This may seem extreme, but you definitely don’t want to risk putting your employees in a dangerous situation or, in severe cases, have to close your office.
Conduct Routine Maintenance
Your maintenance department can only do so much, but one of the things they should do is inspect every square inch of your building periodically. If an issue with the building envelope is identified, don’t waste any time contacting a structural engineering company. You may have caught the problem early enough where it won’t take much effort to fix it, but you won’t know for certain until an expert checks it out.
At B.E. Structural, we have a team of forensic engineers who work on building envelope forensics every day. Contact us if you have any questions about the process or if you’ve identified a potential issue in need of inspection.