Water intrusion is involved in most construction defect litigation cases involving commercial, industrial, and residential properties. In fact, cases involving water intrusion issues account for more than 70 percent of construction litigation, according to the Journal of American Institute of Architects.
Here is a brief overview of water intrusion indicators, causes and damage.
Indicators of water intrusion are similar for all types of properties
Indicators of water intrusion are similar for commercial, industrial, and residential properties. More obvious signs are stale and musty odors, buckling floors, discoloration and staining on ceilings and walls, and delamination or dividing of surface coatings such as paints, wallpaper, and linoleum. A significant indicator is the existence of mold. Mold consumes moisture and requires moisture to thrive.
Characteristics that are more difficult to identify include faulty or defective roof underlayment, swelling windowsills, moisture around the interior of doors and windows, and failing window glazing.
Causes of water intrusion are different for every building
Every building uses different materials, components, and designs, which makes determining the causes of water intrusion a scientific adventure of sorts. As well projections and openings are constructed in numerous differing practices which make determination of a source issue more difficult. For example, water leaking through a window does not necessarily indicate a window leak. The source of the leak could be from numerous other places, as in the roof above, the wall opening seal, the protrusion into the wall, the header, and the sill, the pan it is to be embedded in, so on. In such an instance, suing a window company may very well be a bad idea and a significant waste of money. Most windows themselves are manufactured to exacting specifications and they themselves is are seldom the source of water intrusion.
Some of the more common causes of water intrusion include structural damage, defective window systems, improper window installation, faulty roof design, faulty roof underlayment, poor installation of siding, and other façade materials. For older buildings, frequent causes are degrading materials like wood rot and decay, as well as hidden pipe breaks.
Regardless of the cause of water intrusion, the most important aspect of resolving problems is pinpointing the specific source of the leak – a daunting task for non-experts, and even for experts without proper instrumentation.
Damage from water intrusion can be serious
Water intrusion is like a toothache – left unchecked, it is only going to get worse, will become more expensive to fix, and will involve more pain as the days slip away.
If the causes of water intrusion are not addressed, it can lead to an environmental hazard like serious toxic mold growth or harm to the building’s structure, both of which are expensive to rectify. Other recurrent damage from water intrusion can include damage to finished surfaces like floors, walls, and ceilings, and while fixing those issues isn’t as expensive as repairing structural damage, it will nonetheless prove to be costly for the building owner.
Z Solution, a leading construction litigation consulting practice, uses the best equipment in the nation to test, inspect and analyze water intrusion in commercial, industrial and residential properties. Z Solution’s work and equipment for water intrusion includes:
- Measuring and analyzing indoor air quality with a particle counter, which classifies and diagnoses the source and complexion of contaminants, using the Fluke 985 Particle Counter.
- Identifying and assessing moisture leaking and humidity problems using the FLIR Systems MR160 Imaging Moisture Meter and through thermography utilizing the Fluke 971 Temperature and Moisture Meter.
- Finding refrigerant leaks with a UV light to ascertain the precise leak location using the Fluke 9854652 [RLD2] Leak Detector.
Giving its clients a competitive advantage, Z Solution’s Z Mobile Lab goes to construction and building sites to conduct its work. The company’s mobile laboratory and equipment allow Z Solution to control the entire process of conducting investigations and informing analysis, instead of relying on subcontractors or third parties for testing equipment and case examinations.
Z Solution is led by Alan Zirkelbach, a legal consultant and expert witness with more than 15 years of experience assisting attorneys and companies in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Adding credibility to his work, Zirkelbach has 35 years of experience running a successful construction company that has been building throughout the Southeast U.S. since the mid-1980s.