Mold growth risk detection

Contact for preview, general availability fall 2020 …

Background

The following conditions are necessary for mold growth to occur on surfaces: 

  • Temperature range above 40 °F and below 100 °F
  • Nutrient base (most surfaces contain nutrients)
  • Mold spores (almost always present in air)
  • Moisture

Since the first three conditions are present in most building environments, moisture is often the primary condition we attempt to combat in the fight against mold growth. Unfortunately, moisture makes for a cunning enemy because of its ability to infiltrate openings in a building’s shell both as a liquid (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, pipe leaks) and as a gas (e.g. travelling water vapour, exhalation by occupants, attachment to clothing). When all four conditions are present, mold growth typically occurs either at the source of the leak or where moisture in the air first makes contact with the coldest surface in a building (e.g. a window, framing, exposed exterior materials). The latter is how mold often ends up in unexpected places. When moisture in the air hits the colder surface, it transforms into a liquid on the building material through condensation (think cold drink on a hot day), creating an ideal environment for mold growth.

To most accurately predict mold germination and growth, we need to measure the composition of all four conditions at each surface that is a potential risk (e.g. window one, window two, building crack one, etc.). While very expensive, this approach also assumes a building operator can successfully predict exactly where mold will eventually first occur. Tricky business.

What's new

Rather than measuring for all conditions at each individual surface, Solve™ provides a heuristic prediction approach by continually monitoring a robust area (e.g. basement) and calculates its moving ‘Dew Point’ temperature to determine critical mold growth environments. Dew Point temperature is scientifically seen as the most practical indicator to predict mold within a high probability. Solve calculates Dew Point in real-time using inexpensive sensors that monitor an area’s ambient temperature and relative humidity, drastically reducing the building’s costs.

As Solve continually calculates Dew Point, it weighs it against the real-time relative humidity data to report on which building areas exhibit mold growth environments. Because building surfaces commonly cycle between wet and dry states, Solve also indicates how often mold growth conditions occur and when they’re occurring. This makes it easy for building operators to understand the relative conditions of each area, which are the highest risks, and which are the most urgent.

Building operators can then proactively take informed action to offset mold growth conditions by reducing the moisture content of the air, increasing air movement at the surface, or increasing the air temperature.

Implement this solution

Place a small battery-powered wireless sensor in each room to be monitored.  Connect a LoraWan gateway to your local network (similar to a wifi router).

The sensors send raw environmental data through the LoraWan network to Solve™, where it's decoded, assessed for alerting conditions, and saved for reporting.

One-time price
LoraWan gateway $150
Hardware sensor $40-$80 each
Installation $0

Your existing (non-technical) staff typically does the onsite installation of the gateway and sensors. Solve includes free onboarding and support.

Monthly price
Solve Core $79
LoraWan network $50
Each registered user $39
Each monitored point $4
Maintenance $0

Solve™ is a monthly subscription, and the total price is based on the number of active users and monitored points.  Solve Core includes the use of the Solve CRM/ticketing apps, IoT cloud hosting and management, security, awesome support, third-party integrations and free updates.  The LoraWa network is provided by a Solve supported LoraWan network operator like MachineQ, TheThingsNetwork, etc.

Once the LoraWan network and Solve accounts are in-place additional solutions can be layered in by simply installing more "sensors" and enabling the corresponding "monitored points". 

Details

Risks of mold growth:

  • Deterioration of building materials
  • Swelling of furniture, rotting of wood
  • Attraction of insects
  • Discoloration and odor problems
  • Health problems related to respiratory, memory loss, and lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties exacerbated with asthma and some allergies
  • Increases the likelihood of metal corrosion and mechanical damage

Minimum conditions for mold germination and growth:

  • When an area’s relative humidity reaches 80%, and Dew Point hits a minimum of 55ºF, mold germination is likely occurring, and at 85% relative humidity visible (and smelly) mold growth conditions exist. At these minimums, growth can happen inside a month, less if the humidity pushes +90% or the Dew Point increases.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness.” Last reviewed August 11, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm.

Lawrence, Mark and Planck, Max. “The Relationship between Relative Humidity and the Dewpoint Temperature in Moist Air: A Simple Conversion and Applications.” American Meteorological Society. (February 2005): 225 - 234.

Tsongas, G. A. and Riordan, Frank. “Minimum Conditions for Visible Mold Growth.” ASHRAE Journal 58, no. 9. (September 2016): 32 - 43.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Appendix C: Moisture, Mold and Mildew.” Accessed August 10, 2020. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/appenc.pdf.