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Voltage Surge or Lightning Strike?

Many times electrical engineers are confronted with trying to classify damages to electrical and electronic equipment as the result of a lightning strike. More specifically, was the damage the result of a surge or a direct lightning strike? The answer is “maybe neither.” The chances are the damage...

How Did the Snow Do This?

In forensic investigations, engineers may not always have access to all the information they desire. Consider a 70-year old building that was damaged, following a snowfall. In this scenario, the building is one of three attached structures with curved (barrel-style) roofs. So, how did the snow do...

Keep Your Head Out of the Clouds

Engineers should never have their heads in the clouds, and a good engineer would never be as subjective as Hamlet and Polonius were when observing the shapes of clouds in Shakespeare's "Hamlet". However, pattern recognition is not just the stuff of playwrights... the ability to see patterns is key...

Where's That Water From? (Part 1)

portrait photo of Rod

Rod Turk, P.E., CFEI

In part 1 of this four-part series, we will examine common causes of water damage from mechanical systems. Small, slow leaks—or “stealth” leaks, as well as large floods, cause more obvious and widespread damage. Either of these types of leaks can be caused by many different mechanical systems in...

Automatic Water Shut-off Valves

To anyone that has ever had a water line burst in their house, it is clear, the uncontrolled discharge of water into an occupied space is a problem. To anyone that has ever had a water line burst in their house, it is clear, the uncontrolled discharge of water into an occupied space is a problem...

Freezing a Frost-Free Outdoor Faucet

EDT

A personal case study of frost-free outdoor faucets and the time a fracture leak was found in a valve of an outdoor faucet due to sub-zero temperatures.

Why Frozen Pipes Rupture

With winter (or frozen pipe season) upon us, I’m reminded about misconceptions regarding frozen pipes and pipe bursts that were located in a heated space. The following information will illustrate how this happens.

Where did the Water Come From?

portrait photo of Richard

Richard T. Edwards, P.E.

As a materials engineer with some experience in chemistry, I am often asked to assist other engineers in determining the source of water in a crawlspace or an affected area. Obviously, seawater versus freshwater is not a difficult determination. This can be differentiated by simple turbidity tests...