Performance Problem Investigation

Inspecting a tiled patio deck with Brian Hubbs

Our team enjoys investigating the most difficult building science problems.

Tools

Thermography – Infrared thermography is a useful tool for measuring surface temperatures. It can help identify air barrier discontinuities, thermal bridges, deficiencies in insulation placement, or help locate concealed moisture within a roof or wall assembly.

Air Leakage Testing – Air leakage is a large source of wasted energy dollars and can lead to condensation-related moisture problems. We utilize a combination of varying the building pressurization, smoke testing, and infrared thermography to identify air leakage paths. When combined with calibrated door fans, air leakage can be quantified.

Water Testing – Systematic water testing is a very useful tool for tracking down elusive leaks. Water spray on vertical wall and window surfaces or flooding of a horizontal surface can be combined with building depressurization and tracer die to help pinpoint leakage sources. RDH undertakes hundreds of standard ASTM field tests each year for water penetration through wall and window assemblies. We also undertake many complex nonstandard tests to address problems that others have not been able to diagnose.

Problem Areas

Condensation – Condensation can lead to a variety of problems, including deterioration of interior finishes, water pooling, mold, fogging of insulating glass units, and even concealed damage within wall or roof assemblies. The cause of condensation problems can be complex, involving thermal properties and vapour permeability of the materials and assemblies, interior moisture generation sources, as well as heating and ventilation within the building. We effectively combine analysis and measurement tools to determine the cause of problems.

Ventilation – Ventilation air is important and necessary in order to achieve acceptable indoor air quality and comfortable indoor spaces and avoid condensation problems. On the other hand, too much ventilation will lead to excessive energy costs. Achieving proper ventilation is complicated because it involves airtightness of the building enclosure, mechanical fans, distribution systems, and—perhaps most importantly—the occupants of the building. RDH has expertise in all of these areas and can therefore assess and resolve ventilation problems. For example, tracer gas testing can document exactly where and how much air is moving within a building.

Fenestration – Fenestration (windows, doors, and skylights) is the focal point of a very high percentage of the performance problems that are experienced with building enclosures. This does not mean that they are inherently flawed. Rather, it indicates the complicated and specialized nature of these assemblies.  In addition, the performance of installed windows, doors, and skylights depends not only on their properties as manufactured products, but also on how effectively they are integrated into other enclosure assemblies such as walls and roofs. These interfaces can be complex and are accomplished with manual methods, often under challenging working conditions. Many performance failures occur at interfaces as a result of inadequate detailing or unexpected interactions between materials.

Increasing energy performance expectations for windows, doors, and skylights have led to greater complexity in the design of products as well as the introduction of new materials and manufacturing processes. As new technologies are introduced to make windows, doors, and skylights more energy efficient, new forms of product failure can arise.

RDH has the expertise to investigate and resolve the full range of fenestration-related failures, from water penetration through products and interfaces to defects arising from unintended chemical interactions, excessive solar gain, and quality issues in component supply chains.

Does your building have a problem that needs investigating? Contact us today.