With all its glass and concrete, each modern building that stands today is built to last at least 60 years. That is pretty similar to the lifespan of a current home today. Most homes are built to last about that long, but of course, homeowners hope for longer.
There are still plenty of factors to consider when thinking about the longevity of any structure. Natural disasters and common accidents like a simple fire can turn buildings upside down, especially for a residential home.
In today’s article, we will discuss the importance of structural engineer inspection after a fire.
Here are the most important things you need to know:
After a Fire
One of the essential things to post-fire is to get an inspection. A structural engineer typically does a structural engineer inspection to assess the damage done by fire. They can determine whether the damage sustained by various materials was too much or not.
Once an inspection has been completed, you’ll have a better understanding of the damage sustained by your property and where to start with rebuilding. If the fire was not burning too big for too long, there is a high chance that you may not need to replace it much.
But if the structural engineer tells you that the materials are damaged beyond reliability, you will need to rethink everything.
First and foremost, the site must be cleared of any debris before the structural engineer inspection. Once the area is clear, they can come in and examine the structure. From there, they create a list of the damaged structural components they can see. Depending on the damage, the materials may be higher or lower on your list of priorities.
Apart from inspecting the structure, they will also conduct various tests on the materials. There may be parts of the structure that were able to survive and remain undamaged during the fire.
The only way to determine how much damage there is is by finding out the temperature of the fire. This will help the inspector figure out how long and how hot the fire was burning. Based on that, they can already make an educated guess of how well the various structural elements in your property were able to survive.
How Does Fire Affect Common Structural Materials?
Fire affects various materials differently, but as mentioned before, there’s no easy way to determine how reliable the structure still stands depending on how long and how hot the fire was burning. To understand how your property might withstand fire, here’s how some common materials used are affected by fire:
One of the main reasons concrete is such a popular material is because of its low thermal conductivity. But as strong as it may, it doesn’t stand much of a chance fire. Concrete’s stability and strength can be severely affected when exposed to extreme heat. The surface can crack and overall lead to a weakened structure.
Steel is even more vulnerable to fire damage than concrete. It has lower thermal conductivity, and so it’s prone to warping, buckling, and twisting. It might be some of the first things to go when a massive fire rages in the property.
However, despite this, it’s not entirely reduced to nothing after a fire. Minor deformations do not render it useless. So careful assessment is necessary to determine whether a replacement is needed.
Contrary to popular belief, wood is not rendered completely useless after a fire. There are thick and sturdy types of wood that can withstand fire damage for a bit of time. The answer to whether it’s still reliable lies in the charring. Further tests should be conducted to determine the degree of damage to wood and if it can still be used.
For every structure built, careful thought and consideration were put in to ensure that it stands not just the test of time but also the elements and most disasters. However, when you put anything up against fire, all bets are off.
It depends on how hard and hot the fire was raging to know whether your home is still structurally sound. The damages can be far worse or much better than it initially seems. The best thing to do is get a structural engineer inspection for clear answers.
AEI Inspections is a company with over 30 years of experience in home inspection and structural engineering. Our team at AEl has the extensive knowledge and background needed to identify structural issues, perform testing, and more to ensure the structural integrity of your home. Contact us today to learn more!