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Masonry Building Infrared Thermography

Prior to the enforcement of the American Concrete Institute Design Standard 530, masonry building codes were not held to a national consensus standard for the design of masonry elements. This meant different codes and requirements for engineers and architects and no real standard for cities to use to assess buildings. That was until the ACI (American Concrete Institute) and the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) came together to establish standards through the MSJC (Masonry Standards Joint Committee). These standards were developed to streamline and advance standards to make structures more sound. This paved the way for better buildings, inspections, and training for engineers and builders.

History of Development Codes

The development of singular standards for masonry building codes began in 1977 when design codes were still inconsistent across engineers and architects. Born from the need to align requirements and make building codes less difficult, these codes were put in place to make building standards better for all parties involved. To align requirements, the ACI and ASCE joined forces to make one standard for engineers and architects. Ultimately, these organizations, with the support of the masonry industry, created the MSJC with a balance between building officials, contractors, designers, and more to make sure all requirements and codes are of the highest possible criteria. To further the standards of these buildings, required inspections were established to help architects and engineers ensure the integrity of the structure. To do this without damaging the structure, infrared inspections are used to identify voids, incomplete grouting and more without damaging the building. These inspections, coupled with new development codes have helped shape the way masonry structures are built and evaluated.

Evolving Standards

As these codes evolved and developed, standards were also put in place to make sure additions, changes, and amendments are all held to the same high standards as the initial requirements. The MSJC Code, Specifications and Commentaries are reviewed on a three to four-year cycle. Although most of the edits are for clarification of intent, or small omissions, the 2002 revision cycle included significant changes to the seismic design provisions, in reference to shear wall types. As codes evolve, inspections are even more important to increase concurrently. Non-destructive inspections for new builds is crucial for builders, owners, and insurance companies to have all the documentation they need to assure the building is sound. Codes and requirement standards go a long way in limiting poorly constructed builds, but the inspection ensures that they were followed through planning and construction.

How Infrared Thermography Works

Infrared thermography discerns infrared energy emitted from an object, converts it into a temperature, and displays an image of the temperature emitted. This inspection process identifies voids in the structure as well as moisture and the pattern of heat flow. These properties are then assessed to determine the integrity of the building. This technique is important for inspection because it does not require a sample of the building and does not damage the object or structure in any way while providing a look at the conditions and heat flow of a building.

Widespread Acceptance

The goal of the MSJC Code is to be used across all states, cities, and municipalities to ensure the safety of people in and around buildings. To make sure this happens, the MSJC had to be widely accepted as the new standard. State and local code committees were encouraged to adopt these codes as the new standards upon their establishment. It is ultimately up to the local jurisdiction to enforce compliance with these specifications, but because the need for these regulations was so great, they were widely accepted and utilized by industry professionals.

Masonry Standards Today

Today, these codes are used with much more frequency and are often regarded as the industry standard in masonry projects. As further proof of this widespread use, the MSJC Code is the reference tool used for the Professional Engineer’s Principles and Practices Examination as well as the International Building Code and will now be the adopted code of many states. As more engineers and architects utilize these standards, the more streamlined the codes become. At Building Envelope Allies, we assist in assessing and inspecting Masonry Building Code and Specifications. As important as the codes themselves, our inspections guide the strategy for the building moving forward.

Non-destructive Inspections

Quality assurance is no longer optional for designers and architects when it comes to masonry structures. To inspect without causing damage to structures, we use infrared thermology or radiography to prove compliance with design specifications with regard to material, structural strength and thermal performance. If you need help understanding masonry standards, or need a partner in inspecting your building, our professionals at Building Envelope Allies can assist you in helping assess and inspect your building. Get in contact with us today to get started!