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Water Intrusion and Hidden Structural Problems

Over time, water can structurally compromise almost any structure, and it can do it without revealing the full extent of the potential damage. Associate Principal, Devon Lumbard, and Principal, Andrew Scott, share examples of structural assessments originating from water intrusion investigations.

Water + Air + Wood = Mold and Decay
In simple situations, removing and replacing wood members may be adequate. However, complicating factors could include need for temporary shoring or careful design of repairs to minimize collateral damage.

Wood Frame Decay Behind Otherwise Clean Facade

Water + Air + Steel = Rust
Corrosion of steel framing and concrete reinforcing can quickly reduce the strength of these elements. With careful consideration, these elements can sometimes be cleaned, protected, and remain in service


Large Flakes of Rust from Steel Column Found Inside Masonary Pilaster

Water + Flow = Hidden Damage
Decay and corrosion of structural elements often reside in concealed areas, where water/moisture can linger longer. Areas behind walls, under slabs, and in corners require thorough investigation. It is important that we work collaboratively with the Forensic Team to understand where the water is travelling, 
where it may be lingering, and where to look for damage. 

Corrosion of Steel Reinforcing Bars in Bottom of Concrete Slab

Structural Implications may not stop thereBeyond the localized damage, the Building Code may force a more extensive repair. The Structural Engineer must carefully assess  Substantial Structural Damage and Dangerous Conditions. These terms define thresholds, above which repairs may escalate to a larger area, or the building in its entirety.

When you hear water intrusion, ask “What are the structural implications?”

Devon Lumbard, Associate Principal (left) and Andrew Scott, Principal (right)


To learn more, contact your Degenkolb Project Manager or the leader of our Forensics Group, Andrew Scott,, 415-392-6952 or Devon Lumbard,, 510-250-1260

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

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Posted by onayarghandiwal on June 28, 2016 11:38 AM
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