Ask The Engineer

Most frequent questions and answers

When we are called out to investigate a leaking multi-level parking garage it is typically initiated by complaints of damage it caused to the parked cars within it. The materials the dripping water extracts from the concrete as it passes through has a tendency to play havoc on a paint job. But in addition to this problem there are other concerns that the leaks possess. The first is rusting the steel that is imbedded in the concrete or the underlying metal deck supporting it. As the steel rusts it loses its integrity which could result in catastrophic failure. Another issue is spalling concrete. When the steel rusts it expands pushing apart the concrete that is around it. This creates hazards of falling pieces of concrete. So the bottom line is it is not good to allow leaks to continue in a parking garage.

EIFS or Exterior Insulated Finish Systems has gotten a bad rap for good reasons. The original installation procedures allowed for the system to be directly adhered to the substrate. When this stucco system was brought over from Europe it was not as much of a problem because most of the structures there were masonry. In the United States it was a different story because the substrates here were predominantly wood, metal and even gypsum. These materials are a lot less tolerant to prolonged contact with moisture. The result was substrate deterioration and mold. Another issue was the installer’s lack of adherence to recommended installation specifications. These problems have seemed to turn the corner with the introduction of water repellent barriers, drainage stratums and improved installation practices. So, one should not completely avoid EIFS cladding because of improved design and installation practices. There are also coating and sealant systems that can provide additional protection to existing EIFS cladding. An EIFS survey by an EBI should be able to assess the condition.

Basements are not designed, intended or built to be boats. If the ground around and underneath a basement is saturated, hydrostatic pressure will be present which will present forces against the numerous potential sources of water intrusion that are inherent in a typical basement. Fortunately there are membrane systems that can be installed to inhibit moisture intrusion and drainage systems that can be installed to dewater the sub-soils. Knowing how to waterproof a basement can be tricky though and history is littered with ineffective installations. Experience and knowledge is extremely important when diagnosing a wet basement. The personnel at EBI are uniquely qualified in this respect having waterproofed thousands of basements and can recommend the right solution.


Masonry and concrete deterioration could be a result of many factors. Spalled balcony concrete could have been caused by water intrusion that came in contact with the imbedded steel which rusted, expanded and pushed the concrete apart. This condition is exacerbated in a coastal environment where there can be a higher salt concentration in the moisture. At some point the steel can be deteriorated to the degree that it would no longer support its design loads. Capping over failing parapets that are no longer structurally sound may lead to an unsafe condition. That is why the practice of covering masonry and concrete should be considered only after an analysis of the existing condition is performed by a professional and the masonry is deemed to be in good condition.


Unlike many other industries it seems that price plays one of the most pivotal roles when choosing a contractor. Choosing the lowest bidder is the common phrase. Unfortunately, this may lead to the cheapest job for the cheapest price and a construction project is the last place you want to see this happen. We believe at the top of the list of qualifications should be experience and knowledge. There is no substitute for knowing the methods, means and materials related to a project. The more a contractor knows about the processes and products the more efficient and effective the outcome will be.