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Re: Berkeley Balcony Collapse-New photos from Lisa Fulton

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Maybe you are right. But zoom as far in as you can and look at the bottom
of the beams, I see lines which appear to be layers. Also, the way the wood
looks swollen and appears to be coming apart in layers, which I have only
seen in engineered/laminated products, actually it looks like cabinets when
they get wet and swell and come apart in layers (as does regular plywood).
Sawn lumber doesn't usually come apart like that in my experience, it
decays and gets holes in it, but there isn't much swelling and it becomes

But we are just looking at long distance photos, so I definitely deserve
the right to be wrong.

I agree there would not be a structural need per se for LVLs for those
balconies, but if they were used in the rest of the structure maybe that is
what they used because the supplier gave them a deal. Or some engineers
just get in the habit of specifying the same products.

I guess we shall see. I hear you on forensics, you see a lot of the same
things, same mistakes, which helps in the experience department because you
know what to look for.

Andrew Kester, PE

On Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 1:24 PM, Chuck Utzman <chuckutzman(--nospam--at)> wrote: 

> It looked like ordinary sawn lumber to me. There'd be no need for
> engineered lumber on such a short span. And while you are correct that 
> LVL, LSL, and similar products don't handle water as well as solid lumber, 
> nothing other than PT materials can last very long if it says wet.
> With our current level of inattention to waterproofing, it's prudent for
> engineers to assume the worst. One of the reasons I got out of forensic
> work was that it was too depressing. The same mistakes repeated over & 
> over by architects, builders, and inspectors--with the same rotten results. 
> It is a very difficult problem to cure, but ignoring it insures that these 
> "accidents" will continue to happen.
> Chuck Utzman, PE
> On 6/19/2015 7:58 AM, Andrew Kester wrote:
>> LVL or similar engineered lumber, right?
>> My main point being those deteriorate much more rapidly than sawn lumber, 
>> and cannot tolerate much moisture content increase. Sawn lumber can get
>> wet as long as it dries out before decay becomes active it often is fine. 
>> LVL/engineered will start delaminating and falling apart even before

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