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Investigating Sheathing Durability Infrared surveys in hot climates by Brett T. Fagan, PE, and Adrian Gerard Saldanha All images courtesy Building Diagnostics Inc. SHEATHING DECAY CAUSED BY TRAPPED WATER IN BUILDING WALLS IS A LEADING CAUSE OF CONSTRUCTION DAMAGE. UNFORTUNATELY, BECAUSE SHEATHING IS CONCEALED AFTER CONSTRUCTION, THIS ONLY BECOMES EVIDENT AFTER CONSEQUENTIAL DISTRESS DEVELOPS IN THE STRUCTURE OR FINISHES. Sheathing’s hidden location makes it difficult to evaluate its condition. Countless investigations have demonstrated it can be consumed by rot without detectable signs or symptoms, such as leaks to the building interior, odor, or cracks in interior and exterior finishes. Therefore, the ability to detect trapped moisture within the assembly is essential in evaluating an exterior wall’s durability. Although excavations are usually necessary, finding hidden water using non-destructive techniques such as infrared thermographic (IRT) surveys can be useful when the techniques are used correctly. 1 34 the construction specifier | october 2013 CS_October2013.indd 34 9/12/13 9:11:33 AM