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Some common indications of excessive moisture are:

• Condensation, frost, or ice on the inside surface of windows
• Damp spots on ceilings or inner surfaces of exterior walls
• Mold or mildew growth on walls and ceilings
• Peeling or blistering of exterior paint
• Ice or frost on the underside of roof sheathing in the attic space
• Moisture on basement walls and floors
• Sweating water pipes

The term “mold” applies to a large group of microorganisms. It is the number one environmental problem in homes.

Mold grows by breaking down nutrients from organic substances such as wood and wood products, fabrics, foodstuffs, plants and plant debris, and soil. Mildew is a common term applied to a variety of molds that grow on plants or household items under damp conditions.

Most molds multiple by forming large numbers of spores. Spores are found both outdoors and indoors and are distributed by wind, insects, floods, animal and human activity.

High concentrations of mold in the indoor environment can be a serious health threat. Homes that have been water damaged due to rains, leaks, or floods are particularly at risk for mold contamination.

Mold growth on building finishes and contents often appears as a pattern of black, green or grey spotty circular growth. Other times, masses of fine, white, fluffy growth are found. Even when it can’t be seen, an odour often described as musty or earthy is present. This is the result of the release of metabolic by-products of the mold.

Indoor mold contamination can be a serious health issue, a fact agreed upon by the Canadian scientific and public health communities.  Whether high-level but short-term exposures or lower-level but long-term exposures, mold contamination can result in illness.

The most common symptoms from exposure to mold in indoor environments are runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, aggravation of asthma, headache, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and skin rash. People with suppressed immune systems may be susceptible to infections as a result of exposure to indoor molds.

The key to dealing with mold lies in both prevention and remediation. At Mending Homes, we work with homeowners, builders and contractors to make living environments moisture smart. Call us today for an evaluation.

There are many causes of indoor mold growth, which include:
• Compromised building envelope (broken vapour barrier, air/moisture infiltration)
• Inadequate insulation or sealants
• Leaky foundation, poor drainage 
• Roof and plumbing leaks
• Condensation on windows, cold surfaces
• High indoor humidity (over 60%)
• Improper maintenance and equipment operations
• Inadequate ventilation
• Water damage due to fire suppression efforts, etc.

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Moisture or water vapor moves in and out of a home or building in three ways:
• With air currents
• By diffusion through materials
• By heat transfer

Ninety-eight percent of all water vapor movement in building cavities stems from air movement. Homeowners are often stunned to learn that moisture transfer by currents is incredibly fast, sometimes several hundred cubic feet of air per minute.

More extensive media coverage of the possible health risks of mold has raised the public’s awareness of the dangers of mold in both public and private building as well as the associated legal issues and insurance claims.

Due to this coverage and other factors, homebuyers, builders and contractors are increasingly better informed and concerned about mold. Homebuyers want builders who assure they are committed to resolving moisture issues well before they become moisture problems. And more and more homebuyers expect that their new home will be both energy efficient and comfortable. (I’m not sure where this last sentence fits?)

The Canadian Construction Association created a Mold Task Force in June 2012. It was charged with developing national guidelines to assist contractors in minimizing the potential for mold growth and instituting effective remediation practices.

New standards and guidelines were published for the control and prevention of mold issues in the building envelope and mechanical systems during construction and remediation.

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There has been increased awareness by developers and the public about the advantages of constructing and residing in buildings meeting the new standards of sustainable design and construction.

At Mending Homes, we believe future standards will reflect more environmental and energy efficient performance requirements. We will see more advanced electronic monitoring systems for moisture level detection to enable better risk assessment.

1) Remediation. Limit the moisture load on the building by finding the ways in which moisture is already coming in and addressing those problems. This is a strategy for completed new construction or older construction.

2) Prevention. Constructing the building so that it exhibits a high tolerance for moisture means keeping liquid water from entering the envelope, providing airtight construction, and working to place vapor retarders appropriately. It also includes smart ways to allow the envelope to dry in case of accidental wetting in addition to working to avoid thermal bridges through the thermal insulation. All of these are most easily accomplished in new construction.

Moisture Control Technicians are trained in the science of moisture movement based on industry research and proven solutions for Alberta’s climate. Moisture Control Technicians are specialists who develop and utilize specialized critical thinking skills for the design, construction, and assessment of wood frame building envelopes. 

The Alberta New Home Warranty Program offers The Moisture Smart® Builders program. The goal of this initiative is the development of moisture expertise and to recognize those builders committed to resolving unwanted moisture issues in the homes they build. Because we’ve made the investment to meet that goal and we’ve made a commitment to the Program and to the homebuyers, Mending Homes is proud to be part of the The Moisture Smart® Builders program. (I’m assuming this is mentioned because MH)

Sometimes. But while it may seem logical to think that old is bad, many of the problems arise in newer homes that have been built too quickly without adequate care and attention to proper construction principles.

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