Introducing Senseware's Mold Warning: Get real-time alerts when your conditions are conducive to mold growth
By: Max Rothman
While we often think of mold as an indicator that our food has gone bad, it can actually grow almost anywhere where moisture can accumulate: between walls, under carpets, and in furniture. Mold, a term that refers to a fungus that grows on damp and decaying organic matter, is prevalent in many buildings, especially those which have drywall, wood, and other organic-based building materials which readily absorb water. Mold causes lots of problems and mold remediation costs between $10-25 per square foot. The Senseware IAQ Solution costs a fraction of that and gives you the real-time data you need to be in control of your space.
This growth does more than just smell bad:
it can negatively impact your indoor air quality
These effects are seen especially in large buildings which may have poor ventilation. The mold, once matured, produces spores that are released into the air, and are carried to new locations by air currents or by latching on to skin, clothes, or other particulates.
Mold growth can contribute to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS describes situations when building occupants experience health conditions that are linked to the time spent in the building. Given that we spend 90% of our time indoors, ensuring you and your team breathe healthy air is crucial.
Once mold spores are airborne, they cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Mold growth can be especially damaging in locations where children are present, as recent studies by the CDC have suggested a possible link between exposure to mold spores at a young age and the development of asthma.
The monitoring of mold growth is an incredibly important factor in ensuring good indoor air quality and the wellbeing of occupants, especially in high-use buildings like schools, office spaces, and gyms. To address this, Senseware provides a twofold response, both active and preventative, which is easily integrated into your school, office space, or other location.
The Particulate Matter (PM) sensor featured in the Senseware IAQ module detects active particles in the air at a range of sizes down to 0.3 microns in diameter. The PM sensor will indicate how many particles of a specific size are in the air at any given time; however, it is important to realize that the PM sensor is indiscriminate: it can only tell you how many particles are in the air, not what kind they are. Thus, particles detected by the PM sensor may be spores produced by pre-existing mold, or simply other airborne particulates present in the building. Accordingly, if a high PM concentration is detected, it is important to take steps to identify the source. Areas with high moisture, such as laundry rooms and boiler/furnace rooms, as well as anywhere water could accumulate should be carefully examined for mold growth, and sanitized accordingly.
However, the inability of the PM sensors to identify the particles it senses led us to realize that a better solution was needed to fully address the problem of mold growth. This lack of specificity drove us to develop our new Mold Growth Warning, available now to all our customers in the Senseware Analytics app.
This is a preventive measure that can assist in identifying problem areas before mold growth can begin. Using research and data published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Mold Growth Warning is an easy-to-use tool that indicates if the conditions in a given location are conducive to mold growth over time.
Temperature and relative humidity data are collected via a Senseware module installed in the desired location and are fed into an algorithm that determines if the current conditions are conducive to mold growth. The temperature is used to calculate a critical relative humidity value, which is then compared to the actual relative humidity. If the actual relative humidity is greater than this critical value, mold is able to grow at that temperature. These values are actively calculated and compared in real-time, ensuring constant monitoring and protection against mold growth. By using the Mold Growth Warning in tandem with the PM sensor, you can ensure that you have easy access to all of the information needed to keep your building and its occupants safe from mold.
Mold Growth Warning Use Cases
Rooms with high moisture content like Locker Rooms and Boiler Rooms
Delayed or insufficient maintenance can lead to moisture problems in buildings. Undiscovered or ignored moisture problems can create an environment in which mold can grow.
Common moisture problems include: leaking roofs, leaking or condensing water pipes, especially pipes inside wall cavities or pipe chases, leaking fire-protection sprinkler systems, landscaping, gutters, and downspouts that direct water into or under a building, high humidity (60% relative humidity), and unvented combustion appliances.
Rooms with limited ventilation like Utility Areas and Basements
Without adequate ventilation, moisture may build up indoors and mold may grow. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Some of these changes have resulted in buildings that are tightly sealed but may lack adequate ventilation, potentially leading to moisture buildup. Building materials, such as drywall, may not allow moisture to escape easily
Hidden areas like Wall cavities and HVAC ducts
In some cases, indoor mold growth may not be obvious. It is possible that mold may be growing on hidden surfaces, such as: the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, paneling, the top of ceiling tiles and the underside of carpets and pads
Possible locations of hidden mold can include: pipe chases and utility tunnels (with leaking or condensing pipes), walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), condensate drain pans inside air handling units, porous thermal or acoustic liners inside ductwork, and roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
Interested in learning how we can help you with mold detection? Schedule a call with our team today!
ANSI/ASHRAE Addendum e to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 160-2009, Criteria for Moisture-Control Design Analysis in Buildings
CDC | Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness