One Thing Leads to Another…

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

During a visit to review curtain wall assemblies on a project under construction, we noticed something unrelated—brick ties supporting a cantilevered through-wall flashing drip plate at a window opening in the exterior masonry. This unusual condition...

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Caveat Emptor

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Kenneth M. Itle

Condition assessments are conducted to evaluate existing conditions, identify distress, determine appropriate repairs, and assist property owners in understanding possible future repair and maintenance costs. In this case, a pre-purchase inspection was conducted for a new...

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Life safety testing to failure

FAILURES
David H. Nicastro, PE, F.ASTM

Suspended scaffolding is used for cleaning windows and performing exterior maintenance on multi-story buildings. This equipment tends to be rented when needed, but some taller buildings have built-in, permanent components for such access, such as:

building maintenance unit (BMU)—a powered platform that descends from...

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If It’s Too Hot…

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

When specifying and installing air and moisture/vapor barriers, consideration is often given to cold-weather limitations of those materials to better ensure proper application and long-term performance. While this is particularly true for projects in cold climate...

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Keeping unitized curtain walls dry

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

Unitized curtain wall systems offer many benefits when used for the building enclosure. They can increase quality control of the overall system, as the units are largely shop-fabricated under controlled conditions rather than field-assembled. Further, the...

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Installation Limitations

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

The importance of selecting an appropriate weather-resistive barrier (WRB), given project-specific conditions such as substrate types and anticipated in-service environmental conditions, has been emphasized in several past Failures articles by these authors. Of equal importance to...

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Stucco myths and facts

FAILURES
Richard Scott, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Charles Allen, AIA, and Steve Gleason, PE

In our work as forensic architects and engineers, we are regularly involved in litigation over stucco failures, including hotels and high-rise condo complexes. (For this article, ‘stucco’ refers to traditional portland cement plaster direct-applied to...

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Step by step (critical sequencing)

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton and David S. Patterson, AIA,

The benefits of maintaining continuity and proper integration between varying components of the exterior building envelope are becoming better understood. Despite an increased level of awareness and improved specification language, detailing, and execution of critical interface details in...

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Under (negative) pressure

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

When detailing a typical punched window opening surrounded by cavity wall construction, head and sill flashing manage bulk water within the cavity. However, without proper detailing of jamb conditions to ensure continuity of an...

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Open with care

FAILURES
Deborah Slaton, David S. Patterson, AIA, and Jeffrey N. Sutterlin, PE

Even within buildings experiencing recurring moisture-related issues, visible surfaces of interior finishes do not always provide an accurate indication of the underlying conditions within the exterior wall assembly. While non-destructive and minimally invasive investigation methods...

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