Tag Archives: mold removal Maine

Water, Mold, & Building Materials

Building Science Corporation is a credible resource with unbiased factual information.
BSI-027 is a fascinating examination of the prevalence of microbial growth in new buildings. This excerpt is interesting and the photographs included in the article are truly remarkable.

“Mold is pretty easy to understand. No water no mold. Any questions? Well, there are a few. For one we have more mold today, but we don’t have more water. What’s with that? We’ve always built outside out of wet stuff. Concrete comes in a big truck and we “pour it.” We put “mud” in the joints of gypsum board. That hasn’t changed. The problem is that the same amount of water we’ve always had to deal with is hanging around longer and longer in building materials that can’t take it. We have more insulation today and that reduces drying potentials because it reduces energy exchange. That is one reason we have more problems with mold today. The “more insulation” is responsible for the water “hanging around longer” part. But there is another reason—the building materials “that can’t take it” part. We used to build out of rocks and 1,000 year-old trees. Not any more and that is a big deal, as we will see.

From an engineering perspective all that mold needs is carbon—to boldly go where no mold has gone before and seek out and find carbon. But it wants the carbon in a very special form—it wants it in the form of sugar. So, all the mold wants is the carbon in sugar. Now, we don’t talk that way because we don’t want civilians to catch on. We say that mold wants the carbon in a glucose polymer called cellulose—it makes us sound smarter. So where is all the cellulose? It’s in the plant kingdom. So, all the mold wants is the carbon in the cellulose in the plant kingdom. Pretty easy so far. But there are certain rules that the mold has to follow—one of which is that the plant has to be dead first. So what do we build out of? Naturally, dead plants.1″

Indoor Air Quality

Companies working to improve indoor environmental conditions and air quality have a responsibility to their customers to stay current with science and trends. Improvement comes with continuing education and advocacy.
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Spring Maintenance Checklist

Commercial and residential buildings will benefit from early maintenance before summer weather arrives.

  1. Clean gutters and downspouts to be sure water flows freely away from building foundations.
  2. Reseal exterior woodwork- fences, pergolas, sheds, and trellises should be inspected and included in the process.
  3. Check for pest infestation and associated damage- small animals, e.g. mice and squirrels, as well as insects ants, termites, and wasps can present problems and cause damage.
  4. Roof inspection/repair and exterior painting will help to preserve building envelope integrity.
  5. Chimney inspection, as well as window and skylight inspection will help prevent leaks and water damage.
  6. Attics and basements shouldn’t be overlooked, particular attention should be paid to sump pumps and roof ventilation. Mold growth will flourish with elevated moisture.
  7. Sprinkler and irrigation systems should be inspected for necessary repairs/replacement.
  8. Dehumidifiers and AC systems will benefit from service and filter changes.
  9. Window and door screens should be inspected for replacement and repairs.
  10. Retaining walls, walks, and driveways may have been damaged through the winter months.
  11. Landscaping, particularly trees and shrubs, may require attention after harsh winter conditions.

Indoor Air Quality Routines

Spring is on the way and soon spring cleaning will be underway. Duct inspection is sometimes overlooked in routine maintenance. There are unnoticed systems in every building that contribute to the quality of the indoor environment. Ducting is found in  different applications- bathroom exhaust fans, clothes dryers and HVAC are some of the most common. The EPA publishes a lot of useful information that can be accessed here.

Preparing for Cold Weather

Temperatures are dropping and systems maintenance is fundamental in efficient operation. Seasonal properties should be winterized to prevent pipe breaks and winter water damage. Occupied properties will benefit from routine maintenance, filter changes as well as an examination of ducts, vents, and connections should be included. ENERGY.GOV offers tips on heat pump maintenanceBuilding Green also lists suggestions for winter heat pump operation.

Seasonal Maintenance

PREVENTION

  • Perform maintenance regularly; keep a schedule for routine building examinations. Look for condensation and wet spots from the attic to the basement.
  • Be certain attic soffit vents, gable end vents, and ridge vents are unobstructed by insulation and/or contents. Attics are not meant to be used for storage.
  • Maintain living areas; clean kitchens and bathrooms regularly, do not allow unused organic materials to accumulate and dispose of refuse in a timely manner.
  • Leave a 2-3″ space between furniture and walls allowing air to circulate freely.
  • Repair plumbing leaks and other building leaks as soon as possible.
  • Prevent moisture condensation by reducing the moisture level in the air and increasing air circulation.
  • Keep HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed; change filters regularly.
  • Vent moisture generating appliances (e.g., clothes dryers) to the building exterior (i.e., outside) when possible.
  • Be sure to check water hoses on appliances e.g. dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators/ice cube makers, as well as reviewing hot water heaters for wear and deterioration on a quarterly basis.
  • Vent kitchens and bathrooms to code requirements. Exhaust ducting must discharge to building exterior.
  • Leave the bathroom door open and run the exhaust fan for a few minutes after showering/bathing.
  • Provide adequate drainage around buildings and slope ground away from building foundations; follow local code requirements.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts; add downspout extensions to divert water away from building foundation if necessary.
  • Be sure there is at least 2′ between buildings and landscaping; the gap will allow air to circulate and prevent moisture accumulation.
  • Remove snow from roofs to prevent structural damage/ice dams and to keep ridge vents and DWV pipes working effectively.
  • Identify areas where leaks have occurred, correct the causes and take preventative action to ensure leaks do not recur.
  • Never leave buildings while appliances are running unattended.