Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

A certified welding inspector must have a combination of qualifying education and work experience, with documentation to support. According to the American Welding Society, to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), an individual must have both adequate education and sufficient experience. Various levels of education are interchangeable with some years of experience, but by requiring a combination, the certification process ensures that a welder has the knowledge and capability to provide services without fail.

An individual meeting the education and experience criteria is able to apply for and take a Certified Welding Inspector exam. The application must be mailed at least six weeks before taking the exam, and many candidates choose to complete welding inspector training courses to help them prepare for and pass the exam. The exam itself is divided into 3 parts: fundamental knowledge, practical evaluation, and codebook navigation.

The fundamental knowledge section of the exam includes information on various welding processes, heat control & metallurgy, weld examination, welding performance, terminology, relevant welding and non-destructive examination (NDE) symbols, NDE methods, documentation, safety, destructive testing, cutting, brazing and soldering. Succeeding in this section of the exam proves that a welding inspector has the necessary levels of knowledge.

The exam also includes a practical evaluation section, where a welding inspector must demonstrate skill in procedure and welding, mechanical testing and determining properties, welding inspection and determining flaws, non-destructive examination, and utilization of drawings and specifications.

The third and final section of the exam, codebook navigation and applications, is exactly as it sounds. In this section a potential welding inspector must prove their ability to navigate various code books and apply the various codes as required by a project. This skill is critical to ensuring that welding inspections will be completed in compliance with regulations and will be able to adequately ensure the safety of people in the vicinity of the equipment having been welded.

Additionally, anyone seeking a certification must pass a vision test, to ensure they are able to adequately visually inspect welds.

Becoming a Certified Welding Inspector is a complex and challenging process, but this ensures that welding inspection services are provided to a high standard of quality.

If you have a need for Certified Welding Inspections, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980, ext. 133, or at For more information about our Testing and Inspection Group, please visit

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness can be critical to the safety of people and equipment, especially in areas with high foot and equipment traffic. Imagine walking on a rough, uneven sidewalk. You might stub your toe, scuff your shoes, or trip and fall. The same is true on a larger scale for concrete floors in industrial structures. When personnel are working on rough, uneven floors, workers might hurt themselves, equipment takes on unnecessary wear, and dangerous accidents become far more likely.

Warehouses are one example where the quality of flooring can have a significant effect on safety and productivity. Having flat, level floors allows lift trucks to operate at higher maximum speeds, reduces potential for damage to stock, and creates a smoother environment to reduce wear on lift trucks and similar equipment. Well-made floors also help reduce health and safety risks such as driver fatigue or tilting equipment, resulting in falling machinery or products.

Both Floor Flatness, denoted by an FF number, and Floor Levelness, denoted by an FL number, are evaluated through regulated procedures, and compared to standard allowances to determine if variations are at an acceptable level.

Floor Flatness is the measure of how bumpy or smooth the finished surface of a floor is. The flatness is a statistical measurement of how wavy or bumpy a concrete floor is. Individual measurements are taken at points every twelve inches along a line, and the differences between each adjacent point are calculated, along with the mean and standard deviations of the differences. A bumpy or uneven floor can result in injury to personnel, anything from a stubbed toe to a dangerous fall. It can also result in damage to equipment or damage to product from jarring motions created by the uneven floor. For these reasons it is critically important to ensure that floor flatness is at an acceptable level.

Floor Levelness is the measure of the inclination of the floor compared to its design inclination. The levelness is measured by using the difference in elevation between two points far apart. It is critical to ensure that floors are level within reasonable variation, especially in situations involving tall equipment and narrow aisles. Even a slight variation in floor levelness could result in tall equipment losing its balance or colliding with shelves in a narrow aisle, potentially causing harm to personnel or damage to products and equipment.

There are detailed standard procedures for these evaluations to help ensure the safety of personnel, equipment, and products. These testing procedures can help prevent hefty lawsuits or expenses due to equipment and product loss.

Encorus Group offers high quality testing services for floors, as well as many other aspects of construction and industry. If your construction site has floors that require flatness and levelness testing, contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or

Thanks to our summer intern Mara for providing this article!

Fun Fact Friday: EIFS Inspections

Fun Fact Friday: EIFS Inspections

One of the many services offered by Encorus Group’s Civil Materials Testing & Inspection Group is EIFS inspections. According to ASTM international, EIFS, or Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, are an exterior wall system that consist of an insulation board attached to the substrate, a base coat, and a protective top coat. These systems offer constant insulation, and allow architects to design buildings without the added concern of choosing materials for insulation purposes.

EIFS were originally only used on commercial buildings, but have found their way into residential buildings as well. According to the EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA), EIFS generally consist of:

• A water-resistive barrier (WRB) that covers the substrate
• A drainage plane between the WRB and the insulation board that is most commonly achieved with vertical ribbons of adhesive applied over the WRB
• Insulation board typically made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is secured with an adhesive or mechanically to the substrate
• Glass-fiber reinforcing mesh embedded in the base coat
• A water-resistant base coat that is applied on top of the insulation to serve as a weather barrier
• A finish coat that typically uses colorfast and crack-resistant acrylic co-polymer technology
EIFS claddings are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy savings and reduced environmental impact. EIFS can reduce air infiltration by up to 55% compared to wood or brick cladding. In addition to this, EIFSs are durable, aesthetically flexible, and are fire resistant.

Most EIFS do not have drainage systems, therefore if the moisture level becomes high enough, the substrate is subject to rotting, leading to the failure of the EIFS. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), there are several things to look for when examining an EIFS for moisture damage. Things noted by the ASHI to observe visually include, dark streaks at the bottom corner of the windows and where the ends of the gutters meet, obvious signs of physical damage such as dings or holes, and exposed mesh, the EIFS touching the roof shingles, and wrinkles in the EIFS. Another thing to observe is the condition of the caulk around the windows. If the condition is poor or non-existent, it is highly likely that there will be moisture damage to the EIFS. If the EIFS gives way and feels squishy, it may be loose or there may be a moisture build-up.

It is important to identify any issues with an EIFS, as it can save money and time in the construction process. If your construction site has EIFS that require inspection, contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or

Fun Fact Friday: Petrographic Testing

Fun Fact Friday: Petrographic Testing

When building any type of structure, it is important to make sure that the materials you are using are structurally sound to guarantee the integrity and longevity of the structure. Some of the most common materials that are used in modern construction are concrete products. Testing the integrity of concrete and other concrete products is referred to as petrographic testing. A full petrographic testing procedure is composed of two separate tests: the petrographic analysis and the air void analysis.

Petrographic analysis testing is performed on samples of hardened concrete or concrete products from construction sites, or existing concrete that has been exposed to natural elements. There are several reasons that a petrographic analysis may be necessary. They include the determination of:
• The condition of concrete in construction
• Causes of inferior quality, distress, or deterioration of concrete
• Probable future performance of the concrete
• Whether cement-aggregate reactions have taken place and their effects on concrete
• Whether the concrete has been subject to chemical attacks or the effects of freezing and thawing
• Potential safety concerns in the structure
• Whether concrete that has been subjected to fire is damaged
• Factors that caused a given concrete to serve satisfactorily in the environment in which it was exposed
• The presence and nature of surface treatments
• Investigation of the performance of the coarse or fine aggregate in the structure

Samples of the concrete product are taken by sawing off an appropriately sized piece (approximately one 6-inch diameter core) from the concrete at the field site. The procedure for a petrographic analysis includes a visual examination of the sample, followed by an additional examination using a stereomicroscope. If a conclusion cannot be drawn from the information gathered in the first tests, further testing may be done using petrographic or metallurgic microscopes, x-ray diffraction, or other chemical / physical tests.

A report on the findings is then prepared. If the concrete sample was being examined because of structural failure, this report details the interpretation of why the concrete failed based on the findings.

These procedures and reports are done by a concrete petrographer. Concrete petrographers need to be knowledgeable on concrete making materials, the processes of batching, mixing, handling, placing, and finishing of hydraulic cement concrete, composition and microstructure of cementitious paste, interaction of constituents of concrete, and the effects of exposure of concrete to a variety of conditions.

The second test that is used for the full petrographic testing procedure is the air-void analysis. This test is used to determine the air content, specific surface, void frequency, spacing factor, and paste-air ratio of the air-void system of the concrete sample. Examining these factors can help determine whether the concrete was damaged by the freeze / thaw cycle.

When concrete is exposed to the elements, water is likely to settle in the air-gaps. When the water freezes and expands, it could harm the structural integrity of the concrete. Therefore, it is important to calculate the size and frequency of the air-gaps to determine whether or not the concrete would be acceptable to use in construction.

The petrographic testing process is essential to the integrity of any concrete or concrete product structure. Without it, the concrete could be subject to structural failure that could have been prevented. If you need construction materials testing and inspection, including petrographic testing, contact Civil Laboratory Supervisor Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133 or

Fun Fact Friday: Atterberg Limits Testing

Fun Fact Friday: Atterberg Limits Testing

Atterberg Limits Testing is just one of the testing methods that Encorus’s Civil Testing Group uses to determine properties of soil. According to ASTM International, Atterberg Testing Limits are six limits of consistency in soils that were defined by Albert Atterberg. These limits include the upper limit of viscous flow, the liquid limit, the sticky limit, the cohesion limit, the plastic limit, and the shrinkage limit. In modern engineering, the term Atterberg Limits commonly refers to only the liquid limit, the plastic limit, and in some cases, the shrinkage limit.

The liquid limit of soil is the minimum amount of water that would be added to a set amount of soil to change its consistency to a liquid state, meaning that the soil cannot retain its shape. The liquid limit of soils can be determined by creating a paste using soil and a small amount of water and putting it in a liquid limit device. The paste is separated into two halves using a grooving tool, and then allowed to flow together from the shocks caused by repeatedly dropping the device’s cup in a standard manner. This process is repeated with different amounts of water in the paste and the results are plotted on a graph to establish the liquid limit.

The plastic limit of soil is similar to the liquid limit, but it is the amount of moisture that causes soil to display plastic characteristics rather than liquid or solid ones. The plastic limit can be determined using a rolling method where the soil sample with a recorded amount of water is rolled into a 3.2 mm thread and broken into smaller and smaller pieces until it cannot be re-rolled and broken down any more. This process is done twice, and then the average water content of both trials is calculated to determine that soil’s plastic limit. The plasticity index of a particular type of soil can be found by determining the difference between the plastic limit and the liquid limit.

The shrinkage limit of soil is the maximum amount of water in soil that makes it saturated, but still in a solid state. When you add water to soil, the volume increases. However, when a soil sample reaches its shrinkage limit, the volume of the soil does not decrease when the amount of water is decreased even further. The shrinkage limit can be found in a soil sample by determining the relationship between initial wet mass, initial volume, the dry mass, and the volume after drying.

According to the ASTM International Designation: D4318–17E1 , “The liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soils are also used extensively, either individually or together, with other soil properties to correlate with engineering behavior such as compressibility, hydraulic conductivity (permeability), compactibility, shrink-swell, and shear strength”. These testing methods are crucial when it comes to determining what type of soil to use as a foundation for construction projects. The properties mentioned above will affect the soil’s ability to maintain its durability under different forms of agitation. Therefore, it is essential for construction professionals to test the soil before starting construction to ensure the long-term integrity of the structure being built.