4 Ways Building Envelope Consultants and Concrete Moisture Testing Help Insurers Deal with Damage Costs
Moisture damage to buildings ultimately raises two fundamental questions: Where is the water coming from and how much damage has it done? It’s the goal of building envelope consultants and concrete moisture testing to help provide answers — especially to insurance companies dealing with damage claims.
One answer can be found in the science of concrete. Though concrete is one of the world’s strongest, toughest, and most versatile building materials, it’s inherently porous or permeable which may allow for moisture to become trapped between a concrete floor and its floor covering — allowing mold and mildew to fester. That can potentially ruin the floor covering, and even threaten the health of the building’s occupants.
The presence of high levels of moisture in concrete ultimately leads to complex, costly moisture-damage claims that insurance companies must unravel. Building envelope consultants who are experts at concrete moisture testing play a central role in that unraveling. Here’s a look at four ways that consultants and testing can help insurance companies confront water-damage liabilities.
1. Discovering moisture sources
Because finished concrete is essentially permeable, moisture vapor is able to move through it. If raw concrete were poured against the open ground, it would soon draw high levels of moisture from the soil in the form of moisture vapor, which is why concrete contractors install vapor barriers to prevent moisture from wicking up into concrete floors.
The challenge is that vapor barriers are not invulnerable. They can be damaged during construction or wear out after decades of contact with the ground. Damage or wear can put moisture in direct contact with permeable concrete, leading to potential moisture damage with floor coverings.
Building envelope consultants like the experts at CTL use a broad of range sensitive tools that can help detect where moisture is coming in. Simply inspecting a floor does not go far enough because many moisture sources are not obviously detected.
2. Finding improper construction practices
Though high moisture is a constant threat with concrete, it is not inevitable. Flooring contractors and concrete installers have a host of standards they should follow to prevent moisture-intrusion damage.
Building envelope consultants know building codes and construction standards and can uncover evidence of improper or even negligent building practices. These consultants also can help insurers assign liability and testify as expert witnesses in litigation. The combination of concrete moisture testing and years of experience with water damage cases can be the deciding factor in many of these incidents.
3. Assessing building construction
Insurance underwriters want to know the health of the buildings they are preparing to insure. Were moisture barriers installed? How old are they? How healthy is the building’s roof, windows, doors and any other surfaces that are supposed to be water tight? Were concrete floors given enough time to dry properly before floor coverings were installed? Did contractors use appropriate methods or did they cut corners?
Again, the concrete moisture testing tools available to forensic engineers allow them to gain an in-depth understanding of the building’s moisture profile. That helps insurers gain more knowledge of the risks they are taking on and makes it easier to assess premiums and anticipate future liabilities.
4. Preventing future damage claims
Creating a water-tight building envelope is not a mystery — making it happen is known science. And contractors can follow building codes, accepted standards, and manufacturers’ guidance to minimize the likelihood of costly moisture damage.
But they can do everything they are supposed to do and still fail to prevent moisture damage. Accidents happen in the construction process, the earth beneath a building changes or a 100-year flood soaks an area that had never been wet before.
Concrete moisture testing creates documented evidence of the potential source of water damage. Everything forensic engineers and building envelope consultants learn from these tests improves our understanding of the risks insurers are coping with.
At CTL, we’re devoted to using our skills and experience to helping uncover the causes of moisture damage and provide guidance that helps mitigate the risks and reduce them in the future.