What is a Building Envelope Inspection?

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What is a Building Envelope Inspection?

Water is the continual enemy for property owners and building science professionals, and it is a constant battle to improve our building structures, construction details, and designs to prevent water from getting inside buildings. That is why a building envelope inspection is important.

What Is a Building Envelope?

You might be wondering at this point, “What is a building envelope?” The building envelope is a term used in building science to describe the many building systems that protect the interior of the building from exterior elements, mainly water intrusion. The building systems that make up the building envelope include: the roofing systems, exterior wall systems, air barriers, windows and doors, foundations, floors, et al. A building envelope inspection, then, is a survey completed by a building envelope expert of these different systems to not only ensure their integrity, but their ability to keep exterior elements out and interior elements inside.

Roofs Are Not the Only Things That Leak

While roofs tend to be common culprits for leaks and water issues, water does not need much of an opportunity to find its way to the building interior. A building envelope inspection assesses those other opportunities in the building envelope to determine how water is entering the building interior. For instance, is there a brick façade with gaps and cracks in the mortar joints? Are the seals around wind deteriorated and splitting? What is the porosity of the EIFS and split-face block? Is the lintel detail around a door incorrect? Is there a building grade issue that is forcing water into the building? These are just some of the issues that could allow water to get into the building interior and they don’t always include the roof, even though the roof is inspected as part of the building envelope.

Additional Reasons for Building Envelope Inspections

While leaks are the primary cause for a building envelope inspection, the building envelope can also be inspected for air leakage and moisture issues as well. Air leakage is air infiltration between crack and gaps in the exterior wall. Unfettered air leakage can lead to building inefficiency (your furnace or ac unit must work harder to cool or heat the space) and higher energy costs. The resulting influx of hot or cold air can lead to moisture issues, as well. When hot and cold air meet, water will condense and form. A building envelope inspection can identify these issues, test for moisture, perform thermal scans, and inspect air barrier and exterior wall details to determine the cause of moisture and air leakage issues.

While these are just some of the items included in a building envelope inspection, the building envelope has become an increasingly important building system as energy efficiency becomes more important. If your building’s envelope has never been inspected or it has been over a year since it was inspected, Alliance can partner with you to perform the necessary inspection. Contact us to get started today!