It’s surprising how much Bill Robinson’s work has in common with CSI.

Robinson, a water damage forensics expert, applies the tools of his particular trade – moisture meter, thermal camera, endoscope, spray rack, and years of hard-won experience – to track down and eliminate building envelope moisture.

The smoking gun could be anywhere. Is it the transitions or penetrations? Doorway? Windows? Heat registers? Recessed can lights? If water has hurt the home in any way, moisture detective Robinson will find out where and why.

“I call my evaluations Columbo Reports because they’re the result of insistent questions and hands-on investigation. I ask, ‘How long have you been in the house?’ ‘What are your energy bills like?’ ‘Why did you call me?’ and such,” says the respected water damage whisperer.

Robinson, who has worked all over the U.S. but is now based in New Orleans, arguably one of the water infiltration capitals of the world, has seen more than his share of injured homes. He isn’t shy about recommending an assortment of short- and long-term solutions:

  1. Sill pans. He’s a huge believer in sill pans. “I’m a big advocate of sill pans in door and windows. It’s money well-spent,” he says. “The wall might still leak, but it won’t leak inside the house.”
  2. Destructive testing. “To make an omelet, you have to break some eggs,” reminds Robinson. “Another tube of caulk on the outside of a penetration isn’t the answer. Do some destructive testing. Pull some things apart. Make a proper repair so it doesn’t happen again.”
  3. Emeril hoods. Think about today’s stovetop exhaust hoods. “Down here we call them Emeril hoods, because Emeril (Lagasse) would have one, right?” smiles Robinson. The high-powered hoods exhaust fumes at 400 cubic feet per minute, creating a huge air displacement issue. “Big Emeril hoods create negative internal pressure, meaning hot humid outside is sucked in and hits a dewpoint surface. The rest of the story you know,” explains Robinson.
  4. Sharp ax. Make time for continuous training. Understand best practice with transitions and penetrations. “It’s no good for a lumberjack to just chop-chop-chop without taking time to sharpen his ax. A dull ax slows you. The guy with a sharp ax whizzes right by you. The same lesson applies to any contractor. Hearing, ‘I don’t have time to attend a trade show or lunch-and-learn,’ doesn’t make sense,” Robinson observes.
  5. Sharpest ax. Building product technology is always changing. Take drainable wraps and rainscreens, Robinson says. “The outside and inside walls used to have an open cavity. Moisture that got in there could get out. Things could dry. There needs to be a capillary break,” he says. He cites TamylnWrap Drainable Wrap as a great way to ensure that capillary break without compromising fast and easy installation. A patented gap design in combination with a 19 perm rating allows TamlynWrap to work wonders on eliminating mold, rot, and other water damage.

“It’s no longer appropriate to say, ‘allow the house to breath’.” Robinson says. “Now we have to say ‘the house needs to be dry.’”

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