Case Study

Tracing a Leak to Get Answers

Tracing a Leak 

A recent engineering consultation involved the evaluation of water-related damages to a residence.

The Assignment 

EDT was asked to determine “how?” and “why?” this loss occurred.

EDT Analysis 

  • Figuring out the technical reasons for loss (thermal expansion in a riser damages a fitting and leads to a leak) answers the question of “how?” a loss occurred. Answering the question of “why?” (construction error) is also on the path toward answers and understanding.

EDT Findings 

  • A leak was found at a damaged branch line from the riser and was traced up to the penthouse level inside a mechanical closet housing the air handler. 
  • The branch line was observed to have been installed with insufficient clearance between the concrete slab of the floor and the mechanical closet above. 
  • Damage to the branch line fitting as well as damage to the edge of the concrete where the cutout was located was attributed to thermal expansion of the riser. 
  • Further, a ruptured city water main had temporarily halted the potable water supply to the building, resulting in a loss of make-up water to the chiller system.
  • Overall finding: the leak at the branch line was a result of an error by a contractor a few blocks away.