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Claims About Mold by Thermographers


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In the last few months I have been called to figure out mold problems in about 4 homes. Seems they somehow heard I had an infrared camera. Actually the IR camera is the last thing I use on a mold inspection.

Number one tool is a hygrometer followed by moisture meters; IR cam is dead last. Key to the inspection is the interview with the tenant or homeowner.

It doesn't take very long using an IR cam before you figure out where the cold spots are likely to be.

Chris, Oregon

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I conduct a lot of moisture surveys as well, and I would say that my Infrared Camera is the first tool I use in order to detect latent moisture or areas conducive to moisture. It's the fastest and less time consuming method of scanning or inspecting an interior room or area.

However, the camera should not be relied upon for verification of findings. I use different diagnostic tools to verify findings.

I see nothing wrong with this article! It's the non-educated folk that think IR Technology can see through walls or "find mold" that worry me the most. IR cannot find mold, but it's an excellent tool to find and detect latent moisture or areas conducive to mold growth.

Kevin

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I see nothing wrong with this article! It's the non-educated folk that think IR Technology can see through walls or "find mold" that worry me the most. IR cannot find mold, but it's an excellent tool to find and detect latent moisture or areas conducive to mold growth.

Well, in every case so far (not many), there was no question of mold growth and no question that the dominant source of the moisture was high humidity levels caused by the occupant (confirmed with Hygrometer and moisture meters).

Now to be thorough, there could always be some wetness from a leak somewhere which I could use IR to search for, but such areas will likely be really moldy and easy to find visually when there is already a mold problem in the house.

Maybe just me, but what I take from the article is that people will come away with the idea that IR cams detect mold.

So far all I have found that they do is provide a cool radiometric image of heat. [:P]

Chris, Oregon

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Now to be thorough, there could always be some wetness from a leak somewhere which I could use IR to search for, but such areas will likely be really moldy and easy to find visually when there is already a mold problem in the house.

Chris, Oregon

Not all areas of moisture are visually detectable or display any sings of Fungal growth.

Here are a few examples:

This is an image of a bedroom ceiling. There were no visible signs of moisture evident at the time of inspection, but the image clearly shows a wet spot that was confirmed with a moisture meter. It was traced to a section of the sidewall flashing above this area that was failing.

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Here is another image that is very similar. It is a ceiling of a laundry room. There were no visible signs of moisture evident at the time of inspection, but the image clearly shows wet areas that were confirmed with a moisture meter. This was a plumbing leak from the Master Bath soaking tub.

Click to Enlarge
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Infrared Technology is a great tool for building diagnostics. However, it's still just one piece of the puzzle :)

Kevin

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This is an image of a bedroom ceiling. There were no visible signs of moisture evident at the time of inspection, but the image clearly shows a wet spot that was confirmed with a moisture meter. It was traced to a section of the sidewall flashing above this area that was failing.

I have made those finds too, but in my neck of the woods it hasn't happened very often, and it was one of my principal justifications for getting an IR camera.

One of my other principal justifications for getting an IR camera is to train my eyes to recognize more problems or use past findings to guide productive changes in my visual inspection protocol, which has happened; however, not solely due to using the IR camera, but doing so in conjunction with hygrometers and moisture meters.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feared that the IR camera would find lots of stuff that I could not otherwise detemine visually or with a moisture meter, and that my hope was that I would be able train myself to uncover those same findings visually and with the use of moisture meters by improved inspection protocols.

So far, fear is losing, hope is wining.

What drives me is seeing so many old timers walk into a situation, just look at it, and Katen it everytime without the use of tools. That's where I want to be.

Chris, Oregon

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Hello there:

for fungi (ALL) to grow they need available water that would come in contact with their hyphae (vegetative body). The popular belief that fungi absorb moisture from the air is a myth and has no scientific bases. This has scientifically been shown (and published). They simply cannot absorb moisture from the air until it is available to it. That's why we dont see mold covering the entire state of florida or Hawaii or wherever there is high humidity[:-graduat

The concept of water activity(Aw) and fungal growth was mainly used for food industry and i do not think it should be applied to indoor air quality and building science. It has been misused a lot and caused unnecessary headache for many.

Actually most Penicillia are not Xerophillic or thermophillic. they do well in cooler temperatures. Aspergillus species are mostly xerophollic and many are thermophillic as well.

I am told by our CIH's that the cameras show temperature differential and not necessarily moisture. moisture readers still should be used. But the advantage, i am told, is that cameras (infrared) direct you to hidden places. But as you suggested, they do not find molds.

best

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By using a hygrometer, I haven't been so much interested in %RH as I am in determining vapor pressure. By getting an estimate of the vapor pressure I can set the temp alarm on my IR camera not for the dew point but for the temp where surface RH could be 80%. I have been correlating those areas with moisture meter measurements and they measure more often than not higher in moisture.

Now, I am aware of (or at least I think I am) what Caoimhin is talking about aW, that you can present a hygroscopic material with all of the humidity you want, but unto the hygric buffering capacity is reached for that level of sponsoring humidity, mold can't grow.

What I imagine, and hope to be corrected on, is that what happens is if you present a surface of a say a relatively dry hygroscopic material with high vapor pressure is that even though the surface moisture content may indeed rise quite high, the net flow of moisture into the material prevents any mold spore from getting starting since any nutrients it could break down flow away from it into the substrate, and until that stops (substrate has reached equilibrium with the sponsoring vapor pressure) no mold spores can get a foothold and get going.

Is that true or ?

Chris, Oregon

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Now we're starting to see a serious and rational discussion of mold! Thanks Dr. Fallah and Caoimhin, for taking the time to discuss this calmly and without the arm waving and caterwauling that we normally see when this topic comes up.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thank you Chris! Now you have started something most inspectors could care less about.

Me? I am loving it. Thank you gentlemen for your participation.

PS: Mike O should explain caterwauling for the unlearned masses! I personally use and love the word!

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Thank you Chris! Now you have started something most inspectors could care less about.

Me? I am loving it. Thank you gentlemen for your participation.

PS: Mike O should explain caterwauling for the unlearned masses! I personally use and love the word!

You wanna see caterwauling? Go over to the soap opera and poke around for a while.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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