Forensic Engineering

Lightning Mechanical's team of HVAC engineers and mechanical engineers assists insurers, contractors, and litigation support providers in investigating HVAC system failures. Our specialists have the knowledge and insight to assist adjusters in more precisely settling their claims and attorneys in better defending their cases.

Our forensic engineering services rigorously follow recognized processes used to investigate HVAC system failures. These include failure analysis, forensic inspections, and root cause failure analysis.

Forensic Engineering
Forensic Engineering

Our forensic engineering team is equipped with the tools and experience needed for comprehensive investigations. Our engineers have worked on cases involving:

  • Weather damage
  • Mold Damage (liquid in air ducts)
  • Construction defects
  • Power surge problems
  • Electrical fires in cooling systems
  • Compressor electrical failures

Litigation Support

Lightning Mechanical is an experienced expert witness provider for property damage cases. We are capable of providing forensic analysis, forensic inspections, forensic testing, expert-written reports, and testimony to expedite settlement.

We work with both plaintiff and defense attorneys who need the experience of our forensic engineering team to make or break their case. The root cause failure analysis we perform is designed to produce a final written report with clear and well-defined causal chains going all the way back to an initial problem.

We have conducted forensic inspections on hundreds of HVAC systems and cooling systems, leaving our engineers with a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to apply when solving problems.

Lightning Mechanical has a team of expert engineering witnesses available for depositions or trial testimony, as well as an extensive array of fixed assets forensic software solutions to assist forensic professionals with negligence, causation, the scope of work, lost profits, and contract disputes.

Forensic Engineering

Insurance Claims Report

Insurance claims reporting are an essential aspect of any property. In many cases, our forensic engineers are called upon to investigate why a claim was made and what caused the failure resulting in damages and a claim being filed.

In insurance claims investigations, proper documentation is critical. Lightning Mechanical's forensic engineers have extensive training and experience using professional-grade tools such as forensic 3D imaging with the FARO Laser Scanner and forensic photography. Lightning Mechanical engineers also provide forensic data acquisition, data analysis, data storage, data reporting, software development support, and more.

Our team specializes in traditional air conditioning systems, VRV/VRF systems, room refrigeration equipment, medical equipment refrigeration, furnace, boiler, water tower, and ventilation claims. We have worked with major insurance providers and their claimants to bring conclusive expert opinions critical to the claims process.

Act of God Forensic investigation

Lightning Mechanical forensic engineers assist property owners in post-damage assessments and investigations. Investigations may be required due to a lightning strike, a fire, or other catastrophic damage that leads to an insurance claim.

We have experience with extreme weather incidents and are conscious of manufacturer temperature tolerances for equipment all year round. Our engineers have also investigated incidents of fire where faulty heat pumps or furnaces were suspected.

In Act of God claims reporting, we comb through historical data from your heat exchanger, heat pump, outdoor unit, evaporative coolers, and heating solutions to provide a baseline summer and winter performance.

We can then combine that data with the results of our physical inspections of ducts, piping, and air conditioner units to determine whether the contractor responsible for maintenance and their customers had done everything to prevent damage despite the circumstances.


HVAC Evaluation  

Visually apparent damage is usually not the culprit when it comes to HVAC failure. Our team will analyze the totality of your system when determining a cause of failure to ensure the definitive cause of failure is identified. Our forensic engineering team consists of experienced, degreed HVAC experts who perform your evaluation by:

  • Performing a root cause failure analysis aimed at determining a clear answer to what caused the issue in question
  • Conducting forensic inspections designed to uncover signs of failure missed during standard inspections
  • Conducting forensic tests on failed components to determine a cause of failure
  • Considering the history your system has been through and knowing how it was installed and maintained.
  • Utilizing tools such as manometers, infrared cameras, voltmeters, load banks, oscilloscopes, and computerized data probing systems for forensic testing.


Causes of HVAC Failures

Modern HVAC systems rely on multiple complex components reacting to constantly changing environmental factors. While your air conditioner may not look like it's doing much on the terminal indoor unit side, the cool or warm air it's blowing is the result of precisely controlled coils, valves, heat exchangers, heat pumps, fans, and other systems.

The HVAC forensic engineering team at Lightning Mechanical has years of experience investigating all of these systems, with a proven track record for pinpointing causes of failure. We've investigated countless HVAC cooling system issues caused by and leading to:

  • Power surges (electricity supply problems)
  • Lightning damage
  • Improper installation
  • Pipe Failure
  • Faulty Evaporative cooler
  • Ice blockage (indoor coil and outside unit)
  • Furnace efficiency
  • Boiler explosions
  • Seasonal energy efficiency ratio irregularities
  • Refrigerant gas leaks
  • Refrigerator failure (refrigerated room cooling equipment)

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Smart Building Forensic Engineering

Energy consumption is a growing concern for building owners; an intelligent air conditioning system integrated with the rest of a property's electrical systems is the best money-for-performance solution there is. However, of the high energy efficiency ratio, these air conditioning systems operate at, their control systems are highly dependent on automation.

Building Management System integrated air conditioners need to function with the minimum required energy use, whether it's an unusually hot summer or air temperatures below freezing. Integration with a property's power management system is common to be the most effective energy saver possible. Because of the high interdependence of intelligent building control systems, many other experts tend to misattribute collateral damages across commercial or multi-family residential properties.

Smart air conditioners operate with very low failure tolerances and can be sensitive to damage from electrical surges from other malfunctioning building systems. So there is a real possibility that damage apparently caused by a faulty ac unit is the result of problems up the chain. Alternatively, a malfunctioning HVAC system can result in humid climates within a space containing sensitive electrical systems.

Lightning Mechanical's experts are uniquely qualified to determine whether a lack of ventilation, inadequate temperatures, electricity shorting equipment, or partial combustion in your furnace is the root cause of further damages or simply a symptom of deeper-seated control system problems.

Our experience in VRF and HVAC BMS integration has left us familiar with most, if not all, the systems currently on the market. Our engineers know the software and hardware requirements for multi-system integration and can prevent or discover communication errors and machine control problems.

What to Look for in a Forensic Engineering Service

Choosing the right forensic engineering service is crucial if you want to ensure your forensic engineer provides competent, precise forensic testing and testimony. Here are some of the qualities you should look for when making your choice:

  • The forensic engineering team should be composed of degreed professionals - not just technicians. This lends them more credibility when negotiating a settlement or testifying in court.
  • The forensic engineering firm you choose should have a diverse assortment of tools, as well as a variety of testing capabilities relevant to their field of investigation and your reporting needs.
  • Look for forensic engineers who clearly understand the industry in which they are working (e.g., HVAC forensic engineering is very different from vehicular forensic engineering)
Forensic Engineering
Request an Expert Today
Working with forensic consultants is a great way to protect your business and ensure your operations are safe for both employees and customers. Contact the forensic engineering team at Lightning Mechanical today to learn more about how advanced troubleshooting and forensic engineering can benefit you.
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65 Newark Way, Maplewood, NJ 07040, US
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