Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College
You Cannot Manage What You Have Not Measured.
    The Keller Center

Rejected Claim for Phenolic Induced Corrosion of the Metal Substrate

Client’s Objective:

Provide an accurate assessment of the existing exterior envelope conditions.
Determine the best course of action to resolve the current deficiencies.
Obtain a fair and equitable settlement from the insulation manufacturer after being rejected from the phenolic foam class action lawsuit.
Services Provided:

Evaluation and Assessment
Material Testing Analysis
On Site Testing
Photography as needed for clarification/verification of conditions.
Laboratory Evaluation of retained samples.
Assist in selection of qualified legal representation.

Microscopic examination of retained samples revealed “pitch float”, settling of coal tar to the base of the assembly resulting from the use of porous fiberglass reinforcement plies.

Phenolic induced corrosion in the form of white oxidation.


A thorough site evaluation of the roof and wall assemblies was conducted at Keller Center. The comprehensive evaluation revealed problematic conditions throughout the waterproofing envelope. Exterior brick veneers, coping cap and roofing systems were in various degrees of failure. Testing revealed evidence of moisture penetration of all roof elevations.

Test probes were used to determine the existing composition of the currently installed coal tar roofing system and revealed fiberglass reinforcement felts and phenolic foam insulation installed as part of the assembly at all elevations. Fiberglass reinforcement plies are not recommended for installation as part of a coal tar assembly due to a condition known as “Pitch Float”; the low viscosity coal tar settles through the porous fiberglass plies, destroying the waterproofing integrity of the system.

Due to the corrosive tendencies associated with Phenolic Foam Insulation, further investigative measures were necessary. The metal decking became the emphasis of the evaluation process and white oxidation, observed at all test core sites, was found to cause heavy corrosion of the metal substrate. In a meeting with the physical plant department, it was revealed that a phenolic foam claim had been previously submitted to the manufacturer for settlement and was summarily rejected.

Concise documentation and photographic verification of the onsite conditions, coupled with extensive laboratory testing, including Microscopic Photography, Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) investigation, Thermal Reaction Testing and Solubility Studies, revealed and substantiated damage to the metal deck and formation of a byproduct of acidic destruction of the substrate at the microscopic level.

Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy verified the damaged substrate.

Electron microscopy revealed damaged substrate.