A Fungus Among Us - Floor Moisture

There is a stinky thing happening in office buildings today and it is hiding under your carpet. Like a cockroach slithering in the walls chasing old pizza crust this troublemaker is growing and few people even suspect it is presence or the damaging health and safety hazard it is causing. It has been known to cause sick building syndromes and generate mold and mildew. At the least it antagonizes people with breathing problems and at it’s worst it can adversely affect everyone working in the environment. What is it? The hazard is unchecked moisture underneath the carpets surface. Yes there is a fungus among us.

Recently I actually heard a real estate professional make the statement that checking slabs moisture was a complete waste of time and was totally unnecessary. That statement could not be further from the truth and ignoring a massive health and safety threat to all workers or visitors inside a public building is a legal liability not to overlook. Besides, making sure buildings are safe is an obligation for all reputable building owners, managers, architects, real estate companies and general contractors.

Just because a carpet product or carpet tile material can lay flat on the floor does not mean that everything is OK. Go ask a virologist about that one and see what they say about things that you can’t see and if that is the measure of OK. In college I couldn't’t see all the cockroaches in my dorm but we all knew they were there. Don’t ask me how but you get the picture. When it comes to moisture issues you better be sure and you better have tests or lawyers because when the biological boogieman shows up you will want one or the other or maybe even both.

The Carpet and Rug Institute and most reputable manufacturers require concrete slabs to have lower than 5 lbs of slab moisture before installing carpet and most experts would tell building owners to make sure moisture is below 3 lbs. But with the fast paced commercial construction schedules of today environments are beginning to see a frightening rise of slab moisture ranging from 6-10lbs on a regular basis. Now carpet manufacturers are often putting owners and building inhabitants at great risk by telling them that their carpet will install over these moisture levels and are inferring that it is OK. The carpet might be OK but the potential biological nightmare underneath the carpet surface is not OK. Some manufacturers have products that will install at high moisture levels but that still does not mean your floor is right. VCTT/PowerbondÔ will actually install over 10 lbs of moisture but that does not mean that biological growth will not occur.

When it comes to being green, don’t let your slabs get green with mold and mildew. Stop the madness. Fix the slab. Make sure your slabs are tested if there are any questions regarding high moisture levels and take appropriate remediation action if there levels of moisture above 5 lbs. Don’t pretend anybody’s carpet will solve the problem. Remember, bacteria loves moisture just like cockroaches love pizza. Growing green mold under your carpet is not sustainable even if it is green. It’s actually more like an icky green fungus color anyway and who wants that even if it is underneath the carpet. Don’t sweep this issue under the rug.

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