History of mould in property
For our next project we were invited to a residential property to undertake an assessment of indoor air quality in relation to selected biological contaminants. The building itself is a two-storey residential property with external brick walls and a pitched tiled roof. The ground floor consists of a living room, a kitchen with inbuilt utility cupboard and a toilet. The first floor consists of a bathroom and bedrooms.The building has a small decorative yard to the front, a grass garden to the rear and tarmac driveways to the left and right side. The construction of the property was completed in early May 2017 and the occupants of the property moved in shortly after completion. We were contacted by the client as the building has a history of mould growth to the skirting boards and this was an occurrence in most of the rooms on the ground floor.
Our conclusions based on Moisture mapping
The storage cupboard located under the stairs has a concrete floor, plaster to brick walls and plasterboard to the underside of the stairs. We found that there was evidence of elevated moisture in the wooden skirting boards in the cupboard. The moisture level in the skirting board appears to be uniformly distributed and reached approximately 28-30%. There was evidence of fungal growth to the exposed surfaces of the skirting board. The items stored in the cupboard were also affected by fungal growth due to relatively high humidity in the cupboard and a lack of adequate ventilation. Our surveyor also inspected all other rooms on the ground floor, where he found elevated moisture levels in all the wooden skirting boards. Fungal contamination was only identified in the cupboard under the stairs however, contamination was reported to the skirting board in the kitchen as well but was removed prior to our inspection. Signs of minor contamination were observed to the curtains in the kitchen and more significant fungal contamination was present to the shoes stored in the cupboard. No signs of fungal contamination were observed behind the installed kitchen cabinets or items of furniture. The assessment of all the relevant exposure factors indicates that at the present the overall risk to health from exposure to fungal elements is likely to be low to medium
Recommendations to prevent further fungal growth
We recommended that the existing fungal contamination is cleaned using antifungal agents. It is vital to allow drying of the base by increased ventilation or by installation of temporary dehumidifiers. The dehumidifiers should be allowed to run 3-4 weeks in each area. We also recommend the installation of a passive vent to the door of the cupboard to aid ventilation. If the dehumidification proves ineffective in reducing the moisture levels in the skirting boards we recommend detaching the skirting board, cutting a ½ inch gap in the bottom of the plasterboard to prevent contact with the concrete base. We would recommend installing a plastic membrane at the base of the plasterboard before reattaching them.