Over the past few months, there have been tens of thousands of Google searches for PTAC units, using keyword phrases as simple as “what are PTAC units” and “consequences of using PTAC units.” While numerous results turn up for these kinds of searches, not many are backed by 30+ years of building forensics experience in the field.

 

At Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG), our building experts have 30+ years of experience in building forensics and have solved, fixed, prevented, and recovered some of the world’s most complex building mold and moisture problems. They have investigated hundreds of hotel moisture problems involving over 100,000 guest rooms, and are dedicated to the individual, operator, builder, and owner in providing a safe and mold-free environment for all.

Continue Reading Synopsis of 30+ Years Working With PTAC Units

After over 25 years of figuring out why buildings end up as catastrophic mold and moisture building failures – there are some apparent truths that have remained seemingly unchanged.

 

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Buildings should not be designed in silos (but they still are). Despite advances in technical understanding and higher standards for building performance, like building envelope airtightness, the design task for the building envelope is still being completed in a vacuum of other critical disciplines. On a recent project, the facade consultant was asked how their design interfaced with the overall building pressurization requirements established by the HVAC design. The answer: “We don’t consider that in our design. They do their thing and we do ours.”

Continue Reading Three Forgotten Truths about Mold and Moisture Building Failures

Do You Know the Vital Signs for Avoiding Moisture & Mold Problems?

Will Your Brand Standards Cause You Headaches?

How Will You Recover Costs If You Do Get Into Trouble?

 

Sign up for our free July 10 webinar on “Hotel Renovations: More Than Just Minding the Dust”.

 

The time has come to perform that next renovation cycle for your hotel. You have successfully lined up your team of property staff, designers, and contractors. You are pleased with the fresh look proposed by the designers. Work is scheduled around your occupancy rate and the first wave of workers is let loose. You are ready for success – until the unexpected happens. Hidden moisture and mold damage disrupts your schedule, delays your reopening, requires redesign work, and increases the construction budget with a multitude of change orders.

If you had seen this coming, your entire renovation strategy would have been altered from the beginning. But could you have seen it coming? Most likely….if you had checked the essential building vital signs. A hotel owner/operator should assess these markers as the first step in any renovation to determine the potential for hidden moisture and mold damage. Understanding those vital signs, as well as the possible negative impact of brand standards, is critical for success.

Continue Reading Hotel Renovation: More Than Just Minding the Dust

Sign up for our free webinar on May 3, 2018“Q: Is There Really a Skills and Experience Gap Causing Failures in Today’s Construction Marketplace? A: No. Learn how recent hotel mold and moisture failures tell us what the real issues are.”

The emergence of modular construction as an option for new construction is becoming mainstream. While the reasons why have been reported on extensively, what has not been reported is that the modular construction industry has been plagued by mold and moisture problems, especially on projects located in warm and humid climates like the Southeast U.S. Both wood-frame and steel-frame modular construction units have experienced condensation problems in crawl spaces, within marriage walls, and within ceiling-to-floor cavities that have not only resulted in deterioration of the wood and corrosion of metal floor pans, but have also led to damaged wallboard and mold issues.

The greatest risk of modular construction failure has been seen in facilities that are domicidal or multi-family in nature, such as hotels, student housing, senior living, and soldier housing. The living units of these types of facilities have inherent similarities: they require both an individual cooling/heating unit, bathroom exhaust, and some sort of central HVAC make-up air system. In addition, these kinds of buildings contain many more modular “boxes,” increasing the number of marriage wall interior cavities and ceiling-to-floor cavities that might not be required in other types of modular construction.

Continue Reading Preventing Modular Hotel Mold and Moisture Problems in the Warm and Humid Southeast

Moisture damage around the bathroom exhaust fan from reverse air flow through the exterior wall cap

 

But why?! Hasn’t there been enough lessons learned through moisture/mold construction litigation in the hospitality, multi-family apartment high rise, student and military housing sectors that show that dumping the make-up air to the corridor is a risky proposition? Apparently not?! This concept of make-up air delivery to a corridor has been and continues to be a living unit moisture and mold risk because the make-air cannot reach each occupied room on each floor for purposes of ventilation, pressurization and make-up air for exhaust. Many times, it is intended that this makeup air will reach each occupied rooms across each room’s door undercut. But it can’t because resistance to airflow, the amount of required makeup airflow to each room, the size of the door undercut, and the internal and external pressures on the rooms and corridor. In addition, test and balance can’t accurately measure it.

Continue Reading Hot, humid climate makeup air conundrum: The moisture and mold risks that developers, designers and installers continue to take

By George H. DuBose, CGC; Charles Allen, Jr., AIA; Donald B. Snell, PE, Cert, Mech. Contractor, CIEC; and Richard Scott, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Sign up for our free March 6 webinar on “A Project Peer Review: The Single Most Important Factor in Reducing the Risk of a Mold and Moisture Lawsuit in Your Next Project”.

Figure 1
Figure 1: The water-based mastic stayed wet (tacky to the touch) for weeks because the covered ductwork did not allow the mastic to dry, resulting in mold growth.

Those involved in the development of most sustainable green buildings typically use innovative products and implement new design and construction approaches.

The intent of these new materials and procedures is to achieve a structure with reduced negative environmental impact, both during construction and throughout the building’s life. These ambitions have now become a part of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), but have their origin in early green rating systems and in early versions of codes like CalGreen.

While the IgCC has been adopted in some jurisdictions as an alternative measurement for sustainable buildings, rating systems such as LEED® v4 have become more widely used. Both approaches, however, have had a similar influence on design, product selection, and construction means and methods. Continue Reading Innovation Isn’t Always Better: The Impact of Low-VOC Mastics on Mold Growth and Corrosion in Ductwork

peer review webinarNot all buildings are created equal. In fact, some fail at alarming rates, often soon after being commissioned. Some building failures occur at a high rate of frequency but result in minor consequences, while others are infrequent but lead to catastrophic results, such as significant mold and moisture problems.

What is the difference between building success and failure? Experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group have learned firsthand that there is one overarching factor: conducting a peer review. They will be conducting a free webinar on this topic on Tuesday, March 6 from 1:15pm – 2:15pm. It is AIA-CES registered for 1 LU-HSW. Register here: https://lx375-800425.pages.infusionsoft.net.

A peer review introduces into the design and construction processes a subject matter expert who understands that there are less-costly options that can still achieve the desired project results. Continue Reading The Single Most Important Factor in Reducing the Risk of a Mold and Moisture Lawsuit in Your Next Building Project

By George H. DuBose, CGC; Steven R. Gleason, P.E.; and Charles Allen, Jr., AIA

While it’s accurate that truth can certainly be stranger than fiction, it is equally strange that so many in the design and construction industry perceive myths as truth, especially after they have been disproved as false time and time again.

In our work resolving mold and moisture problems in hotels and resorts, Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) experts have discovered certain faulty beliefs surrounding hotel performance in coastal zones that are leading to building failures which are often catastrophic in scope. Below is one such myth related to waterproofing, followed by an explanation of why it is false as well as a first-hand case study supporting this position.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Despite the presence of a waterproofing membrane on the elevated concrete slabs, water intrusion occurred through the terrace levels into the spaces below, infiltrating via penetrations and cracks in the slab.

Myth – Water damage can be avoided in hotel design as long as some type of waterproofing membrane is installed over a concrete slab.

Truth – Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as that. In fact, many factors must be considered when waterproofing a concrete slab base. Using a waterproofing membrane over a concrete slab, which is often topped by a mortar bed and stone or similar overburden, is just the starting point. Continue Reading Fact vs. Fiction: Hotel Waterproofing in Coastal Zones

Building Envelope & HVAC Interaction
in Warm, Humid Zones

By George H. DuBose, CGC; Richard Scott, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP; and Donald B. Snell, P.E., Cert. Mech. Contractor, CIEC

building failures
This high-rise resort in Central Florida underwent a $9.5M remediation only to have the problem come back the first summer after it was complete.

Certain faulty beliefs surrounding building performance in warm, humid zones continue to persist in the design and construction industry – and the interaction between building envelopes and HVAC systems is no exception.

Unfortunately, the fact that many architects and engineers rely on such myths as gospel truth during building design has inevitably led to building failures that are often catastrophic in scope.

Below is one prevalent myth our experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) have encountered through their extensive work resolving mold and moisture problems in hotels and resorts. The myth is followed by an explanation of why it is false, as well as a first-hand case study supporting this position.

Myth: A building envelope can perform effectively on its own without any help from the HVAC system. Continue Reading No Building Envelope is HVAC Failure-Proof

Myth―An unproven or false collective belief

By J. David Odom and Richard Scott-AIA, NCARB, LEED AP of Liberty Building Forensics Group and Norm Nelson of CH2M

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If PTAC units were a federally regulated drug, then each equipment sale would include a list of side effects and cautionary notes. Unfortunately, the opposite is true—each PTAC buyer is provided with a list of unproven expectations and myths. It is these unproven PTAC performance myths, enduring for decades, which have contributed to an outsized number of moisture and mold problems.

Over the past 30 years, our building experts have investigated hundreds of hotel moisture problems (involving over 100,000 guest rooms) and in the process, have seen three repetitive problems that appear to be ignored by the hospitality industry:

  1. PTAC units cannot ventilate interior spaces.
  2. PTAC units cannot pressurize hotel guest rooms.
  3. PTAC units are often ineffective in dehumidifying hotel guest rooms, especially when outside conditions are hot and humid.

Even though PTAC units cannot provide these features, the myths are that hotel industry, including owners, operators, developers, contractors, and designers, believe that they can. Continue Reading The 3 Myths of PTAC Units