Healthy Environments: Water Infiltration and Damage
Water Infiltration is a Big Problem
Water infiltration can lead to many other problems within a building. It is important to act quickly to stop the water and begin the drying process. In fact, all water infiltration must be dried up within 48 hours or mold growth will occur.
In addition, if the water is also part of a sewage back-up, speed is even more important. This should be done within 24 hours. All compromised porous materials, including carpeting, carpet padding, and furniture must be discarded.
What Do We Know About Mold Growth
Mold requires three things for growth:
1) The right temperature – Most molds experience their ideal temperature from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. These are typical indoor air temperatures in most buildings. In addition, mold growth occurs in dark areas with little or no airflow.
2) A food source – Cellulose, wood, food substances, glue, paint, carpet, dust, drywall, paper, and most porous building materials are excellent sources of food for mold growth.
3) Moisture -This is the one critical factor required for mold growth that can be controlled. Most of us do not want to maintain our buildings at the temperature extremes needed to inhibit mold growth. Nor is it possible to eliminate food sources since almost all of our building materials readily provide food for molds. The only thing that we can control is moisture. It is critical to correct all sources of water infiltration to eliminate the possibility of mold growth.
Correcting Water Infiltration
Some of the more common ways that water infiltration occurs in a building are:
- Leaking roofs
- Leaking pipes
- Leaking windows
- Leaking basements or crawlspaces
- Non-functioning sump pumps (or lack of)
- Improperly constructed vapor barriers on walls, floors, and roofs
- Clogged gutters and insufficient number of downspouts
- Downspouts that do not drain away from the house (They should extend at least four feet away from the foundation of the house.)
- Sewage back-up
- Uncontrolled humidity and subsequent condensation
Effective on-going maintenance is important.