Did you know water can cause some of the greatest damage to your commercial and residential construction, even beyond other natural disasters? Understanding how water leakage occurs and what damage it can do, underscores the effect this force of nature can have on your building’s construction. A forensic structural engineer will look for potential or current water damage during a structural inspection and suggest the necessary measures needed.
How Water Leakage Occurs
In both commercial and residential buildings, most water leakage comes from two sources: the roof and the exterior building facade. Roof system failures are the most common source of water damage, regardless of whether a roof is flat or sloped. In addition, certain types such as wood, stone veneer, or aluminum have unique construction methods required to prevent water damage. If your roof or exterior building facade is aging or not properly installed, you could see significant water damage and mold.
What Water Can Do
If you have water damage or are at risk for it, the most detrimental effect will be to your building’s envelope construction. This includes the walls, floors, doors, and other elements designed to support your structure and control your environment. Barriers, drains, and screens are required to keep this important layer dry and free of water damage, as repairs can be serious and costly.
Water may seem relatively harmless, but when undetected for a period of time, it can cause serious damage. The water can rot wood when it doesn’t dry properly. It can also develop into mold, the silent killer. Of course, mold remediation is expensive, but the real danger is when it goes undetected in your walls. Mold can cause serious illness such as coughing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, upper respiratory infections, and even memory loss. It’s essential that moisture and water are prevented from leaking into your walls and floors in order to eliminate exposure to mold.
What Ice Can Do
Water can also saturate drywall and cause it to break apart. As water enters a foundation or roofing during winter, it can refreeze and initiate cracks that, over time, will continue to spread and put your entire home or business at risk. These ice dams can also become extremely heavy, causing structural damage to your roof when they refreeze. While ice dams have plenty of quick fixes, the only way to prevent water and ice damage during the winter is to ensure your roof has adequate insulation and ventilation and frequent snow removal.
A regular structural inspection of commercial and residential construction can help you identify if there is a problem before it becomes too costly. A trained forensic structural engineer knows which areas are the most likely to be the cause of your water problem and how to identify any damage that may exist, even in its early stages. An experienced engineer can also suggest adding weatherproofing measures such as flashing, which adds a waterproof layer of protection to your structure.
Water is one of the leading causes of damage for both commercial and residential construction. Water issues can lead to everything from structural damage to problems with mold and mildew. Working with an experienced forensic structural engineer for regular structural inspections will ensure your home or business is ready for anything in the weather forecast.
If you need a structural inspection to look for potential or current leaks and water damage, contact us. Our experienced forensic structural engineers know where problems are likely to occur and can offer viable solutions.