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Top 10 Blog Posts From 2013

We dug up the Top 10 most popular blog posts from this year for you to reread, relive, and recirculate. Enjoy!

Live Loads vs. Dead Loads: Defining Structural Repair Claims
You’ve probably come across a structural claim where the terms “live load” and “dead load” get tossed around by a contractor or engineer regarding the repairs of the building. Or maybe the term “governing code” was brought up, and you weren’t 100 percent sure what they were referring to. This article will provide the basic knowledge for adjusters to become familiar with these terms and what to expect when dealing with a structural repair claim. Continue reading.

EIFS vs. Stucco: What’s the Difference?
When I receive calls to look at a “stucco” residence or commercial building, I always ask the clients, “Now, is it stucco or is it EIFS?” The answers I receive range from, “Umm… stucco, I think. What is EIFS?” to, “I’m not sure” to, “EIFS – I know the difference buddy.” Nonetheless, many home or building owners cannot distinguish between EIFS (Exterior Insulation & Finish System – or also termed “synthetic stucco”) and stucco. I have even seen a reported building envelope “expert” mistake a stucco system for EIFS! By simply visually observing the building from a short distance, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between the two systems. But fear not! Armed with some basic knowledge of the two systems, along with a couple of simple hands-on “tests” described in this article, the reader will (hopefully) be able to distinguish between the two systems with utmost ease and confidence. Continue reading.

Guardrail Deflection Limits
The article Holding On (Modern Steel Construction, February, 2009) by Benjamin R. Baer, P.E., S.E., provided a great overview of handrail and guardrail strength requirements. As stated by Mr. Baer, “There is no single handrail or guardrail design that will work for all situations.” In this article, we intend to follow-up on Mr. Baer’s article, and review and discuss the subject of guardrail deflection limits. Continue reading.

Preventing Common Tile Roof Mistakes
Tile roofs have been used for centuries, and with good reason. Tile roofs are strong, versatile, and durable. Available in a variety of styles and finishes, tile adds curb appeal to any home, be it American Colonial, Spanish Hacienda, or French Provincial. As with any roof type, weather proofing and installation are keys to long-term performance. This article will provide tips on how to avoid common errors in tile installation. Continue reading.

Wood Roofing: Separating Cosmetic Damage From Performance-Reducing Damage
Wood shingles and shakes comprise a small, but significant, portion of the steep-sloped roofing market. These wood roofing products seem to show up in more and more hail claims. The big question lies in what is performance-reducing damage and what is simply cosmetic damage? Continue reading.

The Importance of Electrical Grounding
Electricity is a powerful and dangerous force that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses during a typical year. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances and in urban areas and faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires. A well installed electrical grounding system is an important part of keeping an electrical system functioning safely. Continue reading.

How Dangerous is Your Sofa? Natural vs. Synthetic Fiber Flammability
Could your couch be a fire hazard? Good question!
Traditional, natural materials used in manufacturing upholstered furniture are commonly being replaced with new synthetic fibers which ignite and combust much differently than natural fibers. For consumers and fire investigators alike, it is imperative to educate yourself on both the flammability and combustion characteristics of various textiles found in today’s home furnishings. Continue reading.

Deflections in Deck and Balcony Railings
Deck and stair railings that do not meet code requirements or have excessive deflection present a danger to the public and result in a multitude of insurance and construction-related claims. As forensic engineers, we typically see common areas of railing design that are deficient to code or serviceability. In order to understand the construction and design of such systems, thorough research of the topic is required. Continue reading.

Top 5 Causes of Seasonal Fires
One of our resident fire investigators, Mike Davidson, has come up with a list of some of the top causes of seasonal fires around the holidays. Just some food for thought for the season! Continue reading.

Residential Code Requirements for Roof Repairs and Replacement
When evaluating a roof system for storm related damages, the issue of repair versus replacement inevitably arises if storm related damage is determined to be present. In addition to the quantity of damage and feasibility of repairs, the building codes should be analyzed and consulted prior to making a final determination. Building code requirements for roof repairs or replacement can be misinterpreted by those seeking greater compensation for storm related damages. It is important to be familiar with Minnesota State Residential Code requirements for roof repairs and replacement, and the common misinterpretations of these requirements. Continue reading.

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