Technical bulletins

Technical bulletins

  • February 2019

    The Dangers of Ice Damming

    By Carla Ladner P.Eng.,

    With sub-zero winter temperatures and months of snowfall, Canadian winter weather can result in an influx of property damage claims. Specifically, in the right conditions, ice damming can be a common concern. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof.  

  • January 2019

    Snow Covered Roofs

    By Jeffrey Howie P.Eng., Carla Ladner P.Eng.,

    Each winter, during periods of significant snowfall, the buildup of snow on roofs can be a real concern. Snow accumulation depends on many factors, including wind direction, building orientation, roof pitch, shelter, and, of course, weather conditions. For example, houses are more at risk when the wind is blowing from the west and the lower side of the house is to the east. Trees and outdoor buildings also play a vital role in the snow that accumulates on the roofs.

  • December 2018

    Chaffing: Why should we be concerned?

    By Geoffrey Wowk P.Eng., CFEI,

    Heavy equipment isn't just used to mine gold in the Yukon, extract oil all over the world, or cut trees for the forestry industry; it also helps produce items we use daily. The watch you have on your wrist, the wood framed house you live in, and the plastic reusable cup you had your coffee in this morning. Most of the heavy equipment used for these products require hydraulic oil to operate, and it is important to ensure that hydraulic hoses are designed, installed and maintained properly to reduce accidents, fires and costly breakdowns.

  • November 2018

    Cigarettes Can Kill You, and E-cigarettes Can Too!

    By Daniel Kabaroff P.Eng., Éric Chainé P. Eng., IAAI-CFI, CFEI, National Corporate Practices Manager,

    Over the years, the health benefits of quitting smoking have been well documented; however, some former cigarette users are turning to e-cigarettes or "vaping" to help them quit. Vaping has also become popular among many people who have never smoked cigarettes. But e-cigarette use comes with its own set of risks.

  • October 2018

    Staying out of hot water - The basics of the control systems for hot water heating appliances

    By Ryan Hazlett P.Eng., CFEI,

    We use hot water for showering, cooking, clothing and dishware sanitation and space heating, so it is likely no surprise that water heating appliances are used in almost every household and business in the country. We generate hot water from a variety of appliances including hot water tanks, instantaneous hot water heaters, and conventional boilers. These appliances use a variety of energy sources including propane, natural gas and electricity. Despite the large variation in styles and methods used to heat water, the control systems, which make them operate safely, are actually fairly similar.

  • September 2018

    Product failures

    By Andrea Jeffery MSc., P.Eng.,

    Product failure is not uncommon and is usually more of an annoyance than a serious issue. However, sometimes products fail and result in serious damage or injury. These are often the product failures that warrant investigation and analysis to identify any potential subrogation opportunities. Causes of these failures are typically due to one of three issues: installation, manufacture or misuse.

  • July 2018

    Concussions and Injury Claims

    By Claudia Blandford M.E.Sc., EIT,

    Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury that typically result from a head impact. Also known as mild traumatic brain injuries or mTBIs, concussions present symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to difficulties with memory or concentration. Because the physical signs are limited or challenging to quantify, they are difficult to accurately diagnose without patient input, leading to legitimacy questions in injury claims.

  • June 2018

    Expansive Soils

    By Carla Ladner P.Eng.,

    Expansive soils can often cause great loss to residential and commercial property. Numerous Canadian cities and towns are located in geographic areas with soils that are classified as clays having medium to high plasticity. This means that these soils are capable of absorbing water and will expand and contract as the moisture content changes. Activation of highly plastic clay (also called heaving or swelling) can cause damage to a building structure, a concrete slab on grade and/or surrounding landscaping.

  • May 2018

    Humidity in your basement: could it be your foundation drain?

    By Andréanne Labrecque P. Eng.,

    Do you notice excessive moisture in your basement in the form of water infiltration or the appearance of molds or whitish marks at the bottom of your foundation walls? The foundation drain could be the cause! Humidity problems in basements are more common than one might think. When basements are used as living space, a problem of excessive humidity can quickly become an irritant and cause significant health problems.

  • March 2018

    Fire Suppression Systems

    By Geoffrey Wowk P.Eng., CFEI,

    When you enter a condominium or commercial building you will often see wet sprinkler heads located in the walls or hanging from the ceiling. These water suppression systems will extinguish fires involving wood components, couches (polyurethane foam) and other plastic materials, and are effective at controlling or extinguishing fires. But how do we control fires involving grease or other flammable chemicals, like paint?

  • February 2018

    Vehicle Data - The final answer or just the beginning

    By Paul Gullekson P.Eng., Regional Manager, Waterloo,

    Most vehicles on the road today have an event data recorder (EDR), and the number of EDRs is only increasing as newer vehicles replace older models. EDRs are modules that will record data related to an incident (i.e. a collision). This technology has been around for over 20 years, so now is a good time to look back at how these black boxes have changed the way we investigate collisions.

  • January 2018

    Hazardous material spills: a costly issue during and after fire

    By Michel Millmore P.T., CESA,

    During firefighting, the attention is mainly focused on the health and safety of building occupants and first responders. Damages to property and the environment are most of the time a secondary issue. When the fire is over, damages to property and structures are often visible and rapidly under control. However, damages to the environment usually worsen and risk of exposure to many contaminants remains a concern.

  • April 2017

    Early failure of cabinetry: Is it always the user's fault?

    By Warren Sanhye P. Eng., M.A.Sc.,

    Whether it is kitchens or bathrooms, we have all experienced or heard of damages to cabinets linked to humidity. As an example, let's just consider cabinet panels that swell or coating shell (veneer or thermoplastic) that delaminates. This type of degradation usually occurs as a result of long term usage, when the cabinetry components "get old". However, there are many cases where this type of millwork suffers from premature degradation. For instance, when similar damages are visible over multiple units of a building/condominium, it seems obvious that they are not independent and isolated cases.

  • February 2017

    Are de-icers safe for concrete?

    By François d'Entremont P. Eng.,

    Canadian winters are harsh. As temperatures dip below freezing, ice can form on roads and walkways and make them hazardous. One method of keeping ice away is the use of de-icing agents. The oldest and most commonly used compound is salt. However, the use of salt needs to be controlled as it can sometimes be more hurtful than helpful.

  • December 2016

    Oil Heating Systems

    By Alejandro Mejia B.A.Sc., P.Eng.,

    Numerous types of oil heating system component failures have been studied and documented. However, one of the lesser-known and preventable sources of oil escapes are corrosion failures of inline oil filters. While there has been a widespread focus in recent years on the updating of tank designs, inline oil filters represent an overlooked, but significant item for attention from homeowners, maintenance companies, insurers, and lawyers.

  • October 2016

    Designed for Failure: Manufacturing and Design of Residential Brass Plumbing Components

    By Alain Abou Antoun P.Eng., M. Eng,

    The durability of a plumbing system is directly dependent on the quality of its component parts and the assembly skills of those who install it. No plumbing system, however well designed, can be expected to operate safely or hygienically if the products or materials used are unsatisfactory. Moreover, even if the best-quality products or materials are used but are installed incorrectly, the system will be a failure.

  • May 2016

    Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Safety

    By Philippe Bouchard Eng., P. Eng., CFEI, CVFI,

    With more electric and hybrid vehicles on our roads, first responders must change the way they handle emergency situations involving these vehicles. This document provides a general description of the special components of electric and hybrid vehicles and an overview of the information required to understand and handle electric and hybrid vehicles in an emergency situation.

  • November 2015

    Are you aware of the new regulation related to asbestos management in buildings?

    By Michel Millmore P.T., CESA,

    In June 2013, modifications were made to the Regulation Respecting Occupational Health and Safety. These modifications gave rise to new obligations for all employers whose personnel could be exposed to materials likely to contain asbestos.

  • August 2015

    Kitchen Renovations

    By Mark Hughes P.Eng., CFEI, Vice-President, Western Canada,

    Kitchen renovations are high on the list of the most common home renovations. Replacement of appliances is an effective way to improve the look of your kitchen and increase the value of your home. However, before tackling any home renovation project, it is important to consider regulatory requirements and safety precautions to ensure that the project meets all applicable codes and standards.

  • July 2015

    Struck by Lightning

    By David Savard P. Eng. CFEI,

  • June 2015

    A Crash Course on Electronic Crash Data

    By Jean-François Goulet Eng., P. Eng., M.A.Sc.,

    Technology is everywhere at home, in your office and in your car. In your car the technology is used for entertainment but also for safety reasons.

  • April 2015

    Problems Relating to Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems (EIFS)

    By Patricia Fortier P. Eng.,

    With the increased environmental awareness and new energy efficiency regulations for buildings, owners, building operators, architects and engineers are constantly on the look out for new innovative products to meet the latest needs.

  • October 2014

    The Burglar Alarm System: A Powerful Tool for Fire O&C Investigations

    By Stéphane Labonté P. Eng., CFEI, IAAI-CFI,

    Fire alarm panels certainly provide important information during an investigation to determine the origin and cause of a fire. But, what about burglar alarm systems?

  • June 2014

    Sump pumps failures: beware of floods

    By Martin Morissette Eng., CFEI, CVFI,

    Homes and commercial/industrial buildings may have one or more sumps built-in their lowest level floor, which is in the basement for most homes.

  • April 2014

    Structural behavior of concrete

    By Olivier Biron P. Eng.,

    Concrete is a material known for its great strength. Regardless, there are a few weaknesses, which must be taken in consideration in the design of concrete structural elements.

  • February 2014

    Effects of humidity on floor coverings

    By Pieric Savary P. Eng., M. Eng.,

    It is well known that the moisture content of a piece of wood affects its properties. Indeed, when a piece of wood is dried naturally or in a kiln dryer, a decrease of the volume or shrinkage occurs. The effect is reversed (expansion) when the moisture content increases in the material.

  • November 2013

    Block Heaters: the Risks of Comfort!

    By Daniel Roy P. Eng., CFEI, CVFI, Martin Morissette Eng., CFEI, CVFI,

    In Canada, many vehicle owners use block heaters to assist with their winter starting and to kick-start the heating of the passenger compartment.

  • August 2013

    Refrigeration Basics

    By Pier-Luc Vinet-Thibault Eng.,

    The notion of "cooling" items or spaces has been developed and tested as early as the 18th century.

  • May 2013

    Recreational Motorsports

    By Nicolas Rousseau P. Eng., CFEI, CVFI,

    In recent years, we noticed a wave of new enthusiasts for motorized recreational sports, such as snow­mobiling, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), dirt bike or personal watercraft. Indeed, according to the statistics from Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, over 525,000 off-road vehicles were registered in Quebec in 2010.

  • February 2013

    Materials 101 Stainless Steel : Its Strengths And Limitations For Residential Use

    By Frédéric Bourgeois Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist, Isabelle Murray P. Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist, Regional Manager, Montreal,

    Stainless steel made parts have revolutionized the industrial era due to their stability in various environments.

  • November 2012

    The environmental quality act and insurance claims

    By Michel Millmore P.T., CESA,

    Given the considerable impact caused by the reinforcement of the Environment Quality Act (EQA), it has become essential, particularly within the scope of an insurance claim, to identify with a comfortable level of certainty the source of the contamination and the person responsible for its releasing to the environment.

  • August 2012

    Biomechanics and forensic engineering

    By Érica Beaucage-Gauvreau EIT, M.A.Sc.,

    Accidents happen so easily! In fact, results from a study by the Canadian Public Health Agency show that 226,436 individuals were admitted to a hospital due to bodily injuries between April 2002 and March 2003 and that 13,906 Canadians died as a result of their injuries in 2003.

  • May 2012

    Plumbing 101 - Part 2 brass part failure: the return of an old problem

    By Frédéric Bourgeois Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist, Isabelle Murray P. Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist, Regional Manager, Montreal,

    We recently noticed an important rise of the failure rate of brass made parts installed in modern plumbing networks.

  • February 2012

    The failure of ceramic toilet tanks... A breach in the defense!

    By Philippe Bouchard Eng., P. Eng., CFEI, CVFI, Guy Voisine Eng., P. Eng.,

    A recent judgment from the Quebec Court of Appeal in a case opposing CRANE Canada Inc. and ECONOMICAL INSURANCE COMPANY (in which CEP Forensic Engineering, Inc. had testified as an expert witness in the Quebec Superior Court) will likely change the dynamics in regards to the investigation of failures of ceramic toilet tanks.

  • November 2011

    Green concrete

    By Frédéric Gagnon Eng., M.Sc.,

    The notion of green concrete has nothing to do with its color or even the color of leprechauns! The term refers to concrete that has constituents or manufacturing processes which have a smaller environmental footprint compared to conventional concretes.

  • August 2011

    Residential foundations: behavior below zero

    By Frédéric Gagnon Eng., M.Sc.,

    In cold weather regions, such as Canada and the northern United States, structural deterioration associated with the effect of frost is a common occurrence each winter.

  • May 2011

    Concrete degradation - Part 2: chemical attacks

    By Louis-Samuel Bolduc Eng., M.Sc., Frédéric Gagnon Eng., M.Sc.,

    Concrete is the most used artificial material around the world. The annual production is estimated at 1 cubic meter per person!

  • February 2011

    Concrete degradation in infrastructures

    By Louis-Samuel Bolduc Eng., M.Sc., Frédéric Gagnon Eng., M.Sc.,

    Durability of concrete infrastructures is a growing concern, particularly in cold regions.

  • August 2010

    Gazoline: an explosive subject!

    By Clément Caron P. Eng., IAAI-CFI, Vice President, Eastern Canada,

    Gasoline is used as a combustible liquid on a regular basis and is so well known that the dangers involved in its handling are often forgotten. This is also the case for several other solvents and combustible liquids used in our daily lives.

  • May 2010

    Did you say pyrite? But what about pyrrhotite?

    By Frédéric Gagnon Eng., M.Sc.,

    Pyrite, also known as fool's gold, is a mineral that has been under direct attack from the diverse players in the housing industry.

  • February 2010

    Plumbing 101 : Enlightening the application of standards in relation with brass parts

    By Isabelle Murray P. Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist, Regional Manager, Montreal, Frédéric Bourgeois Eng., M.A.Sc., Metallurgist,

    Brass parts are commonly integrated to modern commercial, industrial and residential plumbing systems.