In a recent story out of Nebraska, it was reported that inspections turned up reports of mold in the heating- and cooling ducts of a US government facility. Under current renovations, totaling more than 1.2 billion dollars, it is not necessary to state that this was a devastating discovery, which will both add to the list of expenditures and also delay the construction timeline. It must be corrected, because, as we all know, mold can be very troubling to people, especially those with respiratory illnesses or allergies.
Engineers and unaffiliated contractors questioned on the topic suggested that, if proper RH and temperatures had been maintained during construction, this issue could have been avoided.
Remember, mold growth needs a few criteria to properly grow — temperature, relative humidity, water, and something to feed on (i.e. dust). If these variables are controlled, then mold growth can be avoided. In fact, eliminating just one of these comforts will deter mold.
During construction it can be difficult to control temperatures, because the heating and air conditioning systems are incomplete. Also the duct work that is being installed is often exposed to environmental conditions that warrant mold growth, such as rain, dirt, and high humidity. However, installing a portable RH senor on site can help understand conditions and, therefore, make it easier to avoid ductwork. Storing ductwork in areas proven to have dry conditions, or recognizing that duct work is contaminated and requires cleaning before mold growth can occur, can save a great deal of time, stress, and money.
The Mitchell Instruments DM509 Hand Held Relative Humidity and Temperature meter allows the contractor to measure RH and temperatures where duct work is being installed or where it’s being stored. This information can be used to determine if the environment is allowing mold growth, and gives the contractor the information needed to avoid the complication.