Building Diagnostics
INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
 
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) refers to the quality of a building’s environment in relation to the health and wellbeing of those who occupy space within it. IEQ is determined by many factors, including lighting, air quality, and damp conditions. Workers are often concerned that they have symptoms or health conditions from exposures to contaminants in the buildings where they work. One reason for this concern is that their symptoms often get better when they are not in the building. While research has shown that some respiratory symptoms and illnesses can be associated with damp buildings, it is still unclear what measurements of indoor contaminants show that workers are at risk for disease. In most instances where a worker and his or her physician suspect that the building environment is causing a specific health condition, the information available from medical tests and tests of the environment is not sufficient to establish which contaminants are responsible. Despite uncertainty about what to measure and how to interpret what is measured, research shows that building-related symptoms are associated with building characteristics, including dampness, cleanliness, and ventilation characteristics. Indoor environments are highly complex and building occupants may be exposed to a variety of contaminants (in the form of gases and particles) from office machines, cleaning products, construction activities, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal, mold, and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. Other factors such as indoor temperatures, relative humidity, and ventilation levels can also affect how individuals respond to the indoor environment. Understanding the sources of indoor environmental contaminants and controlling them can often help prevent or resolve building-related worker symptoms. Practical guidance for improving and maintaining the indoor environment is available.
 
INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY
 
Thermal infrared imaging is a valuable tool to perform non-destructive qualitative tests and to investigate buildings envelope thermal-energy behavior. The assessment of envelope thermal insulation, ventilation, air leakages, and HVAC performance can be implemented through the analysis of each thermogram corresponding to an objects surface temperature. Thermography also allows the identification of thermal bridges in buildings’ envelope that, together with windows and doors, constitute one of the weakest component increasing thermal losses. Infrared thermography and the proposed quantitative methodology were applied to assess the energy losses due to thermal bridges. The main results show that the procedure confirms to be a reliable tool to quantify the incidence of thermal bridges in the envelope thermal losses.
 
LASER PARTICLE COUNTER
 
Particle counters are regularly used to monitor occupational environments. Airborne particle counters help observers in office settings determine indoor air quality for personal health and building hygiene purposes.
 
Particle counters are used for an array of indoor air quality and industrial hygiene related tasks, such as locating sources of particle emissions and aerosol transport pathways. Particle counters also are used for assessing filter efficiency in HVAC systems and measuring particle size distributions and raw particle counts.
 
MOISTURE METER
 
There are two types of moisture meters typically used by a home inspector. Pin-type meters, which utilize the principle of electrical resistance, use wood or other hygroscopic materials as an element in a circuit by driving two pins or electrodes into it.
 
Pinless meters use radio frequency signals to penetrate the material being tested. There is no pin intrusion into the surface of the material you are checking.
 
HYGROMETER
 
A hygrometer is an instrument used for measuring the moisture content in the atmosphere. Humidity measurement instruments usually rely on measurements of some other quantity such as temperature, pressure, mass or a mechanical or electrical change in a substance as moisture is absorbed. By calibration and calculation, these measured quantities can lead to a measurement of humidity. Modern electronic devices use temperature of condensation (the dew point), or changes in electrical capacitance or resistance to measure humidity differences.
 
BUILDING DIAGNOSTICS
 
Building diagnostics is the process of determining the causes and solutions to problems in buildings. More specifically, building diagnostics are holistic process of data collection methods and techniques regarding inspection and analysis, and of future prediction of faults/abnormality/defects in the condition, internal environment and performance of a building or structure, extending to services offered in the building. The three main types include commissioning, monitoring, and investigation diagnostics. This process can be carried out unaided (using naked eye) but often aided by advanced technology such as moisture meters, hygrometers, infrared thermography, ultrasound, radar, vibration, and lasers. The end product of building diagnostics is a prediction of the likely causes of the found defects/faults in building and suggestion of appropriate remedial building solutions.
 
As part of a property condition assessment or home inspection building diagnostics is not an exact science and is subjective. Very often, final professional judgment is required. It is important that this final judgment can only be made after careful diagnostic process has been properly performed. Otherwise the prediction can only be regarded as a guess.  Practitioners of building diagnostics are called building diagnosticians who are equipped with the specialist knowledge and skills required.
 
Building science is the collection of scientific knowledge and experience that focuses on the analysis and control of the physical phenomena affecting buildings and architecture. It traditionally includes areas such as building materials, building envelope, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, natural and electrical lighting, acoustic, indoor air quality, passive strategies, fire protection, and renewable energies in buildings. The practical purpose of building science is to provide predictive capability to optimize the building performance of new and existing buildings, understand or prevent building failures, and guide the design of new techniques and technologies.
 
HOME ENERGY AUDIT
 
Home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. But remember, audits alone don't save energy. You need to implement the recommended improvements. ENERGY STAR provides extensive information about home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort.

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  • Over 20 years of specific commercial and residential experience of all facets of Building Diagnostics.
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