Is it possible that the energy-efficient (“green”) construction of your home may be causing conditions conducive to mold growth? That’s a question that’s been kicked around the real estate (and insurance) industries for some time now. Here, Clean Earth Restorations, specialists in mold remediation in San Diego, give you a short overview of the issue.
After the energy crisis of the 1970’s, home construction techniques evolved in the noble direction of saving gas and electricity. These techniques made buildings “tighter”, meaning air was prevented from “leaking” in or out of the structure, thus conserving the energy needed to heat or cool it.
However, it is thought that these new techniques, or the improper implimentation of these techniques, could also be inadvertently creating conditions that cause or encourage the growth of mold — which is detrimental to both the home itself and the people living in it.
The issue involves many variables including: choices in architecture, structure and materials; the use of and kind of ventilation system; and the quality of workmanship and skills used in building. Always, an excess of moisture or humidity is at the heart of the problem.
Some of the possible problems which create mold-growing conditions are:
- a tight structure removes the airflow that kept older (leakier) buildings below the relative humidity rate that encourages mold growth (around 60%). Cooking, bathing, and even breathing are common activities that cause humidity inside the home. Without proper air exchange, this humidity may present ideal conditions for mold to establish.
- insulation in walls and attics regulates heat transfer but also traps moisture if there are leaks or flooding, or if condensation occurs inside the walls.
- with improper air flow, excessive condensation can occur wherever there is a heat differential between the outside and inside of the home that meets on a surface (under roof, inside of windows, etc).
- continuous footing foundations (thought to be structurally helpful in earthquake-prone regions such as California) can create pockets of trapped moisture under the house.
This is just a brief look at an important question. For more detailed information, you may find the following articles of interest:
Los Angeles Times: Airtight home eyed as mold issues grow
Chicago Tribune: Mold can be a byproduct of energy-efficient home
Green Lodging News: The Hidden Risks of Green Buildings: Why Moisture and Mold Problems are Likely
Clean Earth Restorations serves all of San Diego County and provides free estimates for all your mold remediation sites. We will gladly discuss your problems and options.