The key to preventing mold growth within your home, office or school is to eliminate and prevent uncontrolled moisture intrusion. Moisture intrusion may result from flooding, roof leaks, pipe leaks, an overflowing wash machine, sink, toilet or bathtub. Water leaks are also common in radiant heating systems. If one of these events occurs or is suspected, a moisture investigation may be necessary to asses what, if any, materials are wet and to monitor the drying process. Also, when a mold test kit or mold detector demonstrates amplified mold levels within a building, the source(s) of the moisture must be determined and eliminated. The best method for detecting moisture in walls, ceilings, cabinetry, etc. is the use of an infrared (IR) camera. The infrared camera is ideal because it allows all surfaces to be examined for moisture in very little time. Wet spots the size of a dime can be detected in a non-destructive manner. If moisture is detected through use of the infrared camera, a moisture meter can then be used to confirm the presence of moisture. This step is necessary, as false IR readings could be obtained in areas where cold air is blowing or insulation is missing.
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Room with radiant heating beneath the flooring
Infrared image of the radiant heating system beneth the flooring
ImmunoLytics recommends that IR surveys be conducted within 3 days of rainfall. This allows for unseen roof leaks and other water intrusions to be detected. This is critical in homes with flat roofs, as they are prone to small leaks that allow water onto the insulation and drywall, but may not be significant enough to leak into the occupied space. This situation allows mold to grow without the occupants realizing what is occurring.
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Ceiling with water above it. The blue tape marks the leak.
Infrared image showing the wet areas in the ceiling
If you desire to have an infrared moisture inspection performed, call home inspectors in your area and ask if they evaluate buildings for moisture intrusion using an IR camera. Mold remediation companies will often use IR cameras and may be a potential source for moisture evaluations of building as well.
The ideal home evaluation consists of the use of a mold test kit (or mold detector) and an infrared moisture inspection. This will assess if there is currently a mold problem within the building as well as any potential moisture intrusions that may lead to mold growth in the future.