A Forensic Engineering Approach to Documenting and Analyzing Domestic Plumbing Failures
Keywords:plumbing, product failure, causation, spoliation, nondestrucive, pressure testing, evidence collection, leaking, regulations, subrogation, product defect, design defect, installation, environment, corrosion, dezincification, freezing, insulation, piping, support, mechanical design, San Diego
Forensic engineering analysis of residential plumbing components can be a daunting task, particularly due to the manner in which they may be handled from the onset of a failure event. Usually, a water loss is discovered by a homeowner or tenant of a building where the source of the leak is easily determined. Remediation of a plumbing loss is likely to begin quickly and often compromises the investigation (i.e., the condition of the failed component changes, connections to the plumbing system are removed, etc.). Under most circumstances, the evidence is handled and collected by people without forensic training, such as the occupant or plumber, making spoliation a significant concern. This paper will discuss the scientific processes and evidence handling techniques utilized by forensic engineers to determine whether a product defect, installation defect, environmental condition, maintenance, or wear and tear were contributory factors to a plumbing loss.
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