Property suffering from extensive water damage
Today we travelled to Watford, where our client’s property was suffering from extensive water damage. We attended the site in order to conduct an indoor air quality assessment in relation to selected biological contaminants. While the property was occupied by tenants, the property suffered from condensation mould in various areas of the property. The root cause of this condensation mould was identified as a leaking pipe in the kitchen area. While refurbishments were ongoing in the kitchen, it suffered another water leak. The leaking pipe was repaired immediately however there has been some deformation to the flooring as a result. At the time of our assessment the kitchen floor was still in the process of drying out.
The property is a two storey semidetached house which is currently not occupied as it is undergoing refurbishments. On the ground floor of the property there is a lounge, kitchen/diner, conservatory and a toilet. The first floor of the property consists of three bedroom and a bathroom.
Sampling and analysis of fungal contaminants
In order to assess the quality of the indoor air within the property, we had to take samples for airborne moulds. In order to do this we used a High flow 1600 sampling pump to collect samples onto Vesta spore trap cassettes. We collected a volume of 200-600 litres over a period of 10-30 minutes.
Sampling and analysis revealed that the indoor concentration of fungal spores in the air was marginally elevated in comparison to the background sample. This could be as a result of the property currently not being occupied and undergoing refurbishment. The presence of mould species such as Penicillium/Aspergillus, Stachybotrys and Chaetomium are indicative the existing fungal contamination to the underside of the kitchen flooring materials. At the time of our assessment the concentration of fungal spores in the indoor air was only marginally elevated and therefore does not represent a health risk. However if the kitchen floor is not dried thoroughly and promptly, the fungal spore levels are likely to increase as the fungal contamination spreads and matures.
Results of moisture mapping
In order to locate areas of moisture within the property and get accurate measurements of the moisture content, we carried out a process called moisture mapping. To do this we required the use of a Hydromette HB30 moisture meter and a Tramex moisture encounter plus.
Moisture mapping revealed that the property was suffering from elevated moisture content and water damage to the kitchen floor. The construction materials had been fully saturated with water for several weeks, in which time fungal contamination has been allowed to occur. At the time of our assessment we did not identify any active water leaks in the kitchen so we can conclude that the water damage is due to the leak that the kitchen suffered in previous months but was repaired. All other areas of the property were investigated however they were free from signs of water damage or elevated moisture content.
We strongly recommended for our client to dry the kitchen floor materials as quickly as possible. Increasing the temperature within the property and the use of a dehumidifier would speed up the drying process. The water damaged flooring materials should be removed from the property, especially if they are affected by fungal contamination. The appropriate cleaning methods should be used under air management conditions in order to prevent cross contamination in other areas of the property. Once the fungal contamination has been removed from the property and the kitchen floor is dry, we strongly recommend that the property is ventilated in order to establish normal conditions in respect to the fungal count.