While Legionnaires’ disease has been identified since 1976, it’s only come to the forefront for many facilities nationwide over the last couple of years. The increased attention began in earnest after the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) came out with Standard 188. Following up on that, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) came out with their edict that facilities currently receiving Medicare aid or payments needed to develop a water management program in order to keep receiving funds. This mandatory guidance was a governmental response to the lack of widespread adoption of water management plans.

Legionnaires Disease on the rise
Figure 1

The data in the Figure 1 graph was compiled by government agencies that track disease trends. Over the past 15 years, the incidence of Legionnaires’ disease has risen substantially. A variety of factors come into play as to why this may be so. The population is aging, which means there are more at-risk individuals. Additionally, building infrastructures are also aging – specifically in this case, plumbing infrastructures – and are not always maintained as they should be. Another often overlooked but likely culprit is water flow reduction measures, such as low-flow or no-flow water systems. Continue Reading Legionnaires’ Disease is on the Rise: Here’s What Can Be Done

Unique vital signs can help determine the health of a building as it relates to a mold and moisture problem, similar to measuring the health of a human body by taking vitals. This analogy is applicable to many different building types and construction phases. This kind of analysis can help locate the hidden risks of a mold and moisture problem and can also be beneficial when planning a renovation by bringing awareness to potential moisture-related problems, allowing owners to course-correct, budget, and plan accordingly.

 

In our decades of building forensics experience at Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG), we have seen repeated occurrences of moisture and mold damage in buildings that had previously displayed warning signs. If these vital signs had been addressed early on, catastrophic problems could have been avoided.

 

Instead, many building owners and operators rely solely on a property condition assessment (PCA) to determine if they have a problem. This prescribed methodology is intended to provide a level playing field for what every PCA will provide, and also to limit the exposure and liability risk for those performing it. However, our firm has found that these PCAs, which follow American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) requirements, are not set up to locate hidden issues and in fact often overlook potential problems. Continue Reading Monitor These 9 Vital Signs to Avoid Widespread Mold & Moisture Problems in Your Building

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