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The Roofing-Mold Connection

Most owners and managers have begun to fully comprehend the potential ramifications of mold for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). These ramifications can manifest themselves as damaged building materials, degraded IAQ, sick building symptoms, and potential lawsuits.

Mold commonly occurs in most organic building materials. It is common to see lichens, or mold, growing on the top exterior surface of roofs, within wet organic roof insulation boards, and on wet wood nailers. The one thing that all these surfaces have in common is that they are above the roof deck and, therefore, have minimal impact on IAQ.

When mold growth develops on interior surfaces, IAQ can be affected and building occupants start asking questions. Most organic building materials can support mold growth if temperature and moisture conditions are within supportive limits. Typical materials include ceiling tiles, gypsum board, wallpaper, insulation, adhesives, wood trim and wood framing materials. These materials have been used for years in construction, many never experiencing mold growth.

Identifying the Culprit

What is the catalyst for mold growth: temperature or moisture? Temperature seems to be unlikely, as many similar building types have similar interior environments, and some have mold, while others do not. It appears that moisture might be the single most probable catalyst to affect mold growth. This seems likely as most observed mold growth is associated with leaks and condensation problems in roofs, windows or walls. Studies have proven that leaks in a building can contribute to mold growth within as little as 48 hours.

Leak Response

If we know that roof leaks may be a major contributor to mold development, then keeping water out of organic building materials is paramount to preventing mold growth. We must establish an aggressive leak response program. Technicians must investigate leaks, determine origin points and address deficiencies in a timely manner. Leaks must be stopped within 48 hours and the wet materials dried out, or mold growth is possible. Simple enough when you call RAMCON.

A Proactive Step

Leak response, though important, is reactive, and materials often get wet before a problem can be identified. A better approach would be to develop and preserve an aggressive roof-maintenance program.

It appears that mold growth and roof leaks are directly related. As a result, annual roof maintenance might be the first line of defense against mold development. If leaks do occur, they must be investigated and repaired immediately. To stop mold development, you must take the position that roof leaks are not acceptable and that they must not be tolerated. A RAMCON preventive maintenance program can help provide tangible results in mold prevention.