Mold Air Testing: Is there any value?

When folks call our office with a mold concern, they invariably ask for an air test. They say, “I need to know what we are breathing! Can you help us?”

Our response is invariably, “Yes, we can help you. But an air sample for mold is not the proper diagnostic tool.” We go on to describe the more powerful, albeit simple, tools we have available to figure out a mold problem. These tools include a thorough visual inspection, targeting areas where moisture can commonly occur, moisture and humidity testing, and source testing of suspected materials. The goal, after all, is to determine whether an active mold condition exists in the building, not just to identify (usually inaccurately) what is flying around in the air. [Read more…]

Indoor Air Quality Assessment – Walk Through Inspection

Investigation

A thorough walk through inspection of each floor is conducted to investigate and determine potential sources of Indoor Air Quality contamination. The mechanical room air handling systems are visually inspected for microbiological contamination on the cooling and heating coils, drip pans and other system components. The maintenance records also are reviewed for each facility. Experienced field technicians qualitatively review the delivery capacities of the air handling systems to determine if air flow appears sufficient for the size and type building under investigation. [Read more…]

Indoor Air Quality Assessment – Technical Approach

Indoor air quality has become a major issue due to recent conservation efforts to reduce the cost of heating and cooling buildings, increased reliance on mechanical ventilation equipment, and growing awareness that air quality problems can impact the health, comfort, and productivity of building occupants. Since 1974, in the wake of the first oil embargo, the need to reduce building maintenance and operation costs has been a priority of building managers. To reduce these costs, new buildings have been constructed as hermetically sealed structures. Additionally, older buildings have been sealed by the addition of energy-efficient window and door closures. As a result, fresh air ventilation is provided primarily by way of mechanical air-handling equipment. [Read more…]

Crawlspaces: To Vent or Not to Vent, that is the question

We have discussed mold activity at length regarding water intrusion and mold growth in basements. As we know, crawlspaces are also under the house, but are a different beast altogether. The lower building areas, such as basements and crawlspaces, most frequently develop mold amplification. We know that moisture is the limiting factor in mold growth.

So the question is: Should I vent my crawlspace or seal it up?

Historically, crawlspaces were vented by definition. Our most frequent finding has been that the ventilation is inadequate or somehow impaired. We wanted ample cross ventilation to capture and remove moisture that originated at floor level. We also recognized that because that meant bringing in outside air, there was the potential for moisture, either liquid or very high humidity, to be drawn into the space and increase the moisture load in the space. [Read more…]

Should I Spray Bleach on my Mold Growth?

The presence of active mold growth inside an occupied building requires remediation measures to remove the growth. Existing industry standards published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Industrial Association (AIHA), Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), American Conference of Industrial Hygiene (ACGIH) and others all emphasize  the need to remove the mold growth. This is defined as the demolition and removal of affected porous materials such as carpet, drywall and insulation, and the thorough cleaning of non-porous materials such as wood, metal, vinyl and hard plastic. [Read more…]