What’s the big deal about Water Damaged Buildings (WDB)? There has been a lot of discussion and science surrounding the fact that our homes today are nothing more than a giant compost bin. Slowly degrading and breaking down and causing a multitude of health effects for the occupants. Moisture appears to speed the process up and it doesn’t always mean there’s a flood or standing water.
What Is a Water-Damaged Building (WDB)?
We’ve all know someone with a damp basement/crawl space that periodically floods. Or there was a leaking roof, windows or failing siding. How about a flooded crawlspace that didn’t make it into the home? These are some of the more obvious WDB environments. The resulting damp-musty aroma is often a tell-tale sign of biodeterioration. But it’s not just about a musty aroma or wet basement. Many times there is no aroma or visible sign of water damage where it’s a series of seemingly insignificant intermittent moisture issues that are degrading Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
But I Don’t See (Or Smell) Any Mold
Don’t let the lack of visible mold (or a damp aroma) fool you. More often, molds are concealed in “Dead Air Spaces” that is supported by poor ventilation. We have found these situations to go undetected for years (often decades) allowing the problem to fester and become entrenched in your home. It appears to happen quicker in newer construction tied to the tighter energy-efficient building envelope. Some of the molds associated with WDB’s require high amounts of available water to thrive (Stachybotrys, Chaetomium, Trichoderma, Memnoniella, Acremonium, and Fusarium). These water-loving “hydrophilic” molds thrive in water-rich environments (>90% moisture content), but not necessarily standing water.
Mold Doesn’t Bother Me
It’s not just mold to be warry of. All sorts of Fungi, Bacteria, Gram-Positive Bacteria, Chemicals, Molds (and their metabolites/mycotoxins), building material gases, etc. can accumulate and slowly degrade IAQ.
We refer to this as a “Powder Keg” situation for once you upset the environment with another moisture hit the resulting environmental impacts can be explosive. Or worse yet, after growing unchecked for decades suddenly hit the “tipping point” bringing the occupants all sorts of health issues seemingly out of nowhere. Learn more about WDB and its health effects here.
We All Live with Micro-Climates
Wall cavities that create a dead air space, under wood floors (between flooring and sub-floor), in-ceiling cavities, attics, etc. are all examples of Micro-climates. Even the Exterior Finishing and Insulation System (EIFS) of a building can yield microclimates that lead to toxic mold growth. One thing for sure, if elevated moisture levels are not managed, it’s just a matter of time before the environment becomes host to a number of organisms that degrade IAQ.