When moisture levels in your office building or home become to high, an army of problems can occur. Unfortunately, signs only become apparent once the moisture has infiltrated the structure and building materials.
These problems may be hidden behind walls, under carpets, in crawl spaces, in roofs, etc., but a moldy smell may be in the air or people might be complaining about coughing because of the lung irritation from mold and fungi.
Obvious signs of moisture problems include dry-rot in wood, rust on door knobs, hinges and other metal parts, mold on wall surfaces, condensation in windows, peeling paint and spalling masonry. Hardwood flooring may begin to crown or start buckling.
One of the serious problems associated with too much moisture is mold growth. These un-wecome organisms sharing indoor spaces with us rely on and thrive only if enough moisture is present. This is true for microorganisms such as fungi, but also for pests like cockroaches and dust mites.
Green plants make their own carbon from air and water. Fungi cannot they obtain their nutrients from carbohydrates, which they extract out of the material they live on. Fungi are so adaptable that they learn to degrade almost any substance, which includes all organic material such as wood and petroleum based products. During the process of digestion the fungi release compounds, some of which are toxic and harmful to people.
To thrive and produce spores, fungi need air, water and nutrients. Since air and nutrients (materials containing carbohydrates) are usually readily available inside of building, the main factor for us to control growth of fungi is to control the availability of water or moisture. Cold temperatures sometimes slow fungi growth, but for office buildings and homes where people want to be comfortable, that is not a solution. The optimal growth temperature for fungi is 66-80 degrees.
Fungi growth takes at least 24 hours to develop. Not every spill can initiate fungi growth. If excess water is removed and the surface dried out within 24 hours microbial growth is unlikely.
Now with that being said. When you have a moisture or water problem, call a professional building maintenance service company. Call the best Pacific Building Maintenance 503.239.8877 .
Detection of Moisture Problems
Handheld moisture meters are tools to detect excess moisture in materials.
Two type of moisture meters exist, resistance meters with pins, and capacitance meters with pins. Meters are usually calibrated to read moisture percentages in wood and sheetrock or gypsum. Other materials are measured with a reference scale 0-100. It is helpful form any application to establish a base value by taking readings in dry material.
The measure the questionable materials, and compare the values to the base value. Higher numbers indicate more moisture, Mapping a number of readings may indicate where the source for the moisture problem is located. If moisture is suspected behind walls, pin meters with long insulated pins are used to reach the problem areas with having to remove a section of the wall.
A different measuring method is used to measure the moisture in concrete slaps, concrete walls or brick walls. The in depth RH method required drilling several holes and setting relative humidity probes to measure the evaporation out of the concrete. When floor coverings fail because of moisture issues, it is very important to determine the source of the problem, otherwise the same defects appear after the floor has been replaced.
Here is an example of moisture problems in a basement. The only indication of a problem was a musty smell. After mapping moisture readings from the floor to the ceiling and on all walls, it was obvious that the problem was along the base of the two walls facing the outside. After confirming that the wall was allowing outside moisture to infiltrate. Inside relative humidity reached 90% and did not change , when the weather changed outside, because too much moisture had been soaked up by the structure over the winter months.
The building was in Oregon and it rains a lot in Oregon.
Call Pacific Building Maintenance, Inc. Portland, Oregon. 503.239.8877
Okay, we sealed the basement wall form the outside, put a rocky moisture barrier between the concrete wall and the earth and then pulled off the sheetrock we could not dry out.
For the health of a building, home or facility and the people inside, moisture problems should be avoided, If a moisture problem exists, the cause of the problem has to be found and eliminated and the damage repaired.