Building failure resulting from moisture and mold has many sectors of the construction industry under attack from litigators and insurance companies. Since mold cannot grow without water, preventing moisture migration through the building envelope is key to minimizing the risk of mold-related building failure.
According to Icynene, the best defense against rising insurance costs and exposure to litigation is a risk management/quality assurance program focused on moisture and mold prevention. The firm recommends five elements for such a program:
- Use properly tested/installed building products. Choose products whose performance has been tested in combination with the other building components with which they will interact. Ensure materials are correctly installed according to manufacturers' recommendations and don't impede each other's performance.
- Control airflow across the building envelope. A building must have both an effective, continuous air barrier to control moisture carried in the air and a system of mechanical ventilation to supply fresh, filtered air from outside.
- Detail for moisture control. Moisture management should include a rain screen, air retarder, vapor retarder (if required), proper flashing and water-shedding details on roofs, foundation drainage and proper detailing of the thermal envelope to prevent condensation on building surfaces.
- Develop added service plans. Document all steps in construction, including owner-requested changes, and develop a service plan.
- Choose the right insulation. The insulation system selected should both insulate and create an air retarder, as this is the most effective way to reduce air infiltration and help prevent mold growth. A soft foam insulation and air barrier system, such as Icynene, will maintain a continuous seal by moving with wood studs and joists as they cycle through seasonal expansion and contraction.