Mold on the foundation walls in the basement

Mold on foundation walls

The lack of adequate drainage at the perimeter of the foundation walls and the absence of an effective waterproofing system outside - on foundation walls with porous and lower quality concrete - means that foundation walls are always soaked in water or very humid. This situation causes the formation of mold on the foundation walls, inside, and often causes water infiltration into the interior of the building.

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Lifting the slab on the ground

Lifting the slab on the ground

The presence of cracks, efflorescence and damage in the floor tile often indicates that the floor tile has been subjected to a long period of moisture. The latter could have been caused by hydrostatic pressure in connection with poor drainage of the foundations, a negative slope towards the building or because of the lack of clearance between the garage wall and the adjacent floor.

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Humidity and mold in the basement

Mold in the basement

The presence of mold and moisture in the basement can cause deterioration of building materials, especially those in direct contact with the moisture source. For example, it could be the wooden structure of the floor that rests on the concrete slab on wet ground or the rotting of the ends of the wooden beam (embedded in the foundation walls). Thus, moisture rises in the concrete, by capillarity, and attacks the wooden structure that touches the concrete.

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Water infiltration problem

Water infiltration problem

In most cases, water infiltration requires rapid intervention measures. The causes of water infiltration are multiple, such as lack of maintenance of the vertical and horizontal building envelope, deficiencies due to improper installation of the components of the envelope, normal wear and tear as well as aged materials. that have exceeded their useful life and sometimes it is the occupants who engage in inappropriate activities.

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Carpenter ants and hidden vice

Carpenter ants

It is very difficult for ordinary mortals to differentiate the harmless black ant from the carpenter ant. The distinction is paramount in the case of a prosecution for hidden vice. Indeed, only the presence of carpenter ants, among all insects, gives the right to a recourse in hidden vice against the former owner. However, case law has established that the mere presence of carpenter ants is not necessarily a hidden defect (Li c Boutilier, Court of Quebec, 2006). As Mario Naccarato emphasizes, "despite the hidden nature of the presence of carpenter ants (...) the only hidden character affecting a vice is not enough to engage the responsibility of the seller".

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Buildings on clay soils

Cracks in the foundation walls

Foundations, including walls and footing, distribute building loads on the floor. For this reason, the movements of the foundations (walls and footings) affect the structure of the building as well as the elements of the envelope and the interior finish. In case of movement of foundations, it is important to check and solve the problem of stability of foundations, before proceeding to repair the structure and components affected by this movement. Indeed, if the movement continues, the damage in the interior elements and in the envelope will worsen.

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Hidden defects: Questions and Answers

Hidden defects

Christopher Atchison has agreed to answer some hidden vice questions to shed light on some myths around him.

During this interview, he discussed the subject of the seller's legal warranty, particularly with regard to good faith and its exclusion. Mr. Atchison also spoke to us about how to initiate a procedure in case of discovery of such a defect.

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Thermal losses

Thermal losses

We continue with our theme of the building envelope by addressing the issue of heat losses. Infrared thermography allows the analysis of the thermal resistance of a building and the discovery of heat loss points and points with low thermal resistance.

The factor R designates the degree of thermal resistance of the materials. The more efficient the insulation, the higher the R factor. Briefly, we discuss some causes of heat loss and give tips to minimize the effects of heat loss.

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Heat transfer

Heat transfer, heat losses

The role of the building envelope is to protect the occupants from bad weather and to ensure thermal comfort in all seasons. Unfortunately, the external natural elements as well as the pollution affect the envelope and cause, with time, the deterioration of the components of this envelope.
However, there is also an enemy inside the envelope, namely condensation. The phenomenon of condensation in the building envelope can be caused by the diffusion of water vapor into the warm air, inside, or by air leakage through the envelope.
In this article, it will also discuss the effect of chimney, the importance of the installation of a vapor barrier and an air barrier and the airtightness of the envelope.

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Why an expert for pre-purchase?

Pre-purchase inspection

Even though the pre-purchase inspection is not mandatory in Quebec, it is highly recommended because it allows potential buyers to know the general condition of a building. During his visit, the building specialist identifies the major apparent defects that were perceptible to the eye (visual inspection).
However, it should be noted that the pre-purchase inspection is not an inspection for compliance with various Codes or standards. It is a general inspection and not an expertise. In his pre-purchase report, the inspector indicates the order of seriousness of the deficiencies and mentions the maintenance work as well as the urgent repairs to be made.
In this article, we discuss the subject of the legal warranty of the seller and we give you some tips to ensure the smooth conduct of the inspection with your building expert.

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Condensation on windows

condensation on the windows

Although building owners take many precautions and maintain a humidity level between 30% and 50% inside the building, condensation and ice accumulation problems can still occur.
The National Building Code 2010 includes a section on window performance, the new NAFS standard that replaces the A-440 standard.
In this article, the engineer lists some of the causes of condensation and explains this phenomenon as well as that of relative humidity. Subsequently, it indicates the actions to be taken to reduce the condensation on the windows.

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Infiltrometry test

infiltrometry test

The infiltrometry technique was developed by scientists in the 70 years. Thermographic inspectors and building engineers use the infiltrometer to measure air infiltration in a building.

This technique involves removing air from a part of the building using a blower door with a fan.
The expert then analyzes, using his infrared camera and his smoke bulb, where there are deficiencies that could cause air infiltration.

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Attic condensations

Condensation problem

As the Association of Builders of Quebec (ACQ) reminds us, almost all of the condensation found in roof construction voids (attic spaces and voids) comes from the water vapor that flows through the roof. ceiling and spreads through air leaks.

It is during the winter period that we see the greatest heat loss from the ceiling of the upper floor of a building. This promotes the formation of moisture and condensation in the attic.

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Cracks in the foundation walls

Cracks in the foundation walls

There are many types of cracks in foundation walls, but gravity is not always the same. These may include minor shrinkage cracks that do not affect the integrity of the building. However, we recommend having them repaired to avoid water infiltration problems.

Another type, structural cracks, requires more attention. These cracks are caused by a structural movement of the building that is the result of either soil subsidence, frost heave, lateral soil thrust, inoperative or absent French drain, poor design of the footing (or foundation walls), poor load distribution or poor concrete implementation.

Soil subsidence is the most important factor responsible for structural cracks in foundation walls. In this article, you will find the telltale signs of a movement of the building attributable to a subsidence of the ground.

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Hidden vice: Opinion of the building expert

Expertise in hidden vice

In recent years, there has been an explosion of lawsuits in hidden vice. In this type of expertise, the role of the civil engineer is not a substitute for judges, but it must still analyze whether or not it is a case of hidden vice. To do this, it collects clues and performs the appropriate tests in order to discover if the defect was apparent or hidden during the real estate transaction.

In the case where buyers have consulted a pre-purchase inspector, it sometimes happens that the latter does not take into account the symptoms that may indicate an apparent defect. Despite obvious symptoms, the inspector may not make any recommendation in his report for expert in-depth expertise.

As part of a technical-legal expertise, the engineer must make the distinction between a hidden defect and the normal wear and tear of the components.

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Crack in the slab on the ground

Crack in the slab on the ground

The discovery of cracks in the concrete slab of the basement does not necessarily announce a problem of scope, because it could be cracks withdrawal. Nevertheless, it is necessary to remain alert, because the cracks in the slab can be symptoms of much more important problems.
Indeed, they may be a clue that there is pyrite. If the cracks are star-shaped, then a test with a specialized laboratory is the only valid method to know if there is pyrite or not. The engineer may also consider the hypothesis of an uplift due to hydrostatic pressures of the soil, the sulphation of the concrete, the subsidence of the embankment supporting the slab on the ground, the absence or lack of control joints, an overloaded slab, the warping of the slabs or the lifting of the slab caused by the action of freezing and thawing.

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