Why is good indoor air quality important?
Good indoor air quality is important, mainly for our health. Most of us spend a significant amount of our time indoors whether it be at home, in an office or other workplaces. Poor indoor air quality can cause a number of symptoms such as; headaches, allergies, fatigue, eye irritation and respirable difficulties.
Bedford was home to our next client. A two-storey semidetached property was suffering with staining to the bathroom ceiling and minor condensation mould around the window frame. We were called to the property and requested to carry out an assessment of the indoor air quality to see if this was the issue.
Conducting the indoor air quality assessment
On our arrival at the property we were made aware that the property had been occupied by the current owner for approximately 18 months. Although the occupant had reported the visible condensation mould around the window and the staining on the bathroom ceiling, they had not reported suffering any adverse health symptoms.
Our surveyor conducted the investigation by means of a visual inspection of the property and then used a process called moisture mapping, in order to locate areas with elevated moisture levels and to find out the extent of this moisture.
The investigation commenced in the first floor bedroom which was home to an en-suite bathroom. This en-suite was currently being used as the main bathroom in the property. When inspecting the bathroom there was visible water staining on the ceiling, this staining was also present to the ceiling of the adjacent corridor. The plaster in these areas appeared dry to the touch which suggested that this staining was a result of a historic leak. In the bathroom there is an extraction fan fitted, it has a flexible insulated duct for the first 50cm of the run then a smooth uninsulated PVC pipe for 150cm, followed by approximately 2m run of a flexible insulated pipe. The joint between the insulated duct and PVC pipe was soaked in water when inspected, this water was dripping onto the loose mineral wool insulation and occasionally penetrating the underlying plasterboard. This water drip appeared to be caused by water vapour condensation in the uninsulated extraction pipe (see below image).
Recommendations to prevent mould
On completing his investigation, our surveyor had some recommendations for our client in order to prevent further mould contamination at the property. We strongly recommended that the uninsulated section of the pipe was replaced with a fully insulated flexible duct. This should run diagonally across the loft into the extraction vent with the shortest length possible.
The window surrounds should be insulated in order to minimise the potential for condensation and the existing minor mould contamination in this area should be treated with antifungal treatment to prevent reoccurrence.
The results of the air quality assessment indicated that the indoor air is currently affected by an elevated number of fungal spores. The property was undergoing partial refurbishment at the time of our investigation, this disturbance could be contributing to the elevated fungal spore levels. Once the repairs have been implemented and the refurbishment completed, we recommend that the client carries out a deep clean of the property.