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Damaged Buildings by Design
8 March 2018

The intent and purpose of our buildings is to provide shelter and security but the design is often undermined by ignoring the air around us.

condensate, mould, consulting engineer

Moisture can cause mould and rots the fabric of our buildings, and designers take great steps to avoid the ingress of rainwater, but that is only half the story.

To understand the root cause requires a deep understanding of the air around us, air may not seem be an exciting topic, yet regular air has discrete phyiscal properties including the ability to conceal vast quantities of moisture.

One of the many properties of air is the dew point temperature, when air flows past or over a surface having a temperature lower than the air dewpoint temperature, moisture in the air is released as condensate on to and over that surface. The surface maybe a wall, a pipe, the ceiling, even windows.

condensate, mould, risk, consulting engineer

It is a common sight in air conditioned shops, where the high humidity outdoor air will condense on the colder surfaces inside the air conditioned space.

But condensation occurs within the building structure itself, we term it Interstitial Condensation. Since it occurs inside the wall it is hidden, and only becomes apparent when damp and mould results.

Conducting a risk assessment at the design stage mitigates you risk, avoiding long term damage to the fabric of the building.

About the Author

John Herbert is a veteran chief engineer with more than 30 years international engineering experience, educated in the United Kingdom, he has worked in the United Kingdom and then across Asia for more than two decades engaged by international and local companies. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), a BEAM Professional, and stationed in Hong Kong.

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