Building Envelope Failure: 5 Hidden Signs

Building Envelope Failure: 5 Hidden Signs


Building Envelope Failure

Is your building envelope sound? Drafts and moisture penetration can disrupt day-to-day operations especially in mission-critical facilities. But how do you determine the cause of building enclosure failure? There are usually visible signs that often reveal deeper root issues.

For concerns in the roof systems, blisters or ridges are typically signs that need further assessment. These could point to something that has gone wrong during installation or since the building has been occupied. If the surface is soft under the foot (instead of firm and solid), this is a likely sign that issues are present within the system.

If it’s suspected that the problem’s source is in the façade or the fenestrations, look both inside and outside the facility. When you open a door or window, does it feel like a rush of air pulling or pushing? This could be due to a weakening air seal or weatherproofing that is failing. Consulting with the maintenance staff or those who work within the facilities on a daily basis can be a great resource for identifying issues.

But for deeper issues, trained professionals and consultants may be able to pinpoint the source. Some common, less noticeable problems behind building envelope failure are:

  • Aging: Everything has a measurable service life. Some products simply fail due to their age, exposure to the elements or inappropriate use in the built environment.
  • Improper Design: When the design of a building is improper, the envelope could prematurely fail. Some possible design errors include incorrect roof slopes, poor drainage planning and more.
  • Defective Construction: Poor workmanship is another leading cause of building envelope problems. Even with a solid design, construction mistakes will leave the building vulnerable.
  • Disconnect Between Trades: Multiple trades working on site can get out of sync with one another, and the resulting errors can be in the final product, miscommunication or other areas.
  • Product Failure: Manufacturers are constantly introducing new products to the construction market and some products perform better than others. Trusting an unproven product can be risky and lead to problems

Forensic investigations are the most thorough process for determining the source of building envelope failure. Check out our work with Trinity United Church of Christ where we conducted a forensic leak investigation. If you want to learn more on forensic investigation, consider downloading our latest White Paper.