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Here are some signs to watch out for when checking for mould:
In the long term, these could signal both a decrease in the quality of the air anda decrease the quality of the building (for example: a reduction of the price of a property during a sale).
Here are different answers to your questions that can help you better understand the effects of these issues on a building and its components.
What is efflorescence?
This is a crystalline white deposit that appears on building materials, normally concrete, and is caused by the presence of significant amounts of water or moisture. The water as it evaporates will leave salts on the surfaces. If you see this appearing on your foundation walls, then it is a clear sign that there has been at some point or currently is a moisture problem.
What is a vapor barrier?
It is a membrane (plastic, aluminum, etc.) that is found in the exterior walls and ceilings of the house. Its presence is intended to prevent hot, humid air from entering the cooler materials in the wall.
Do you always have to replace the affected materials?
It depends on the degree of damage to the material and its porosity. If the material is damaged only on the surface, it can be sanded or cleaned, it does not need to be removed. However, in general, moldy porous materials will need to be replaced (mineral wool, plasterboard, wood, etc.).
By seeing the condition of the materials, is it possible to date an infiltration?
Dating an infiltration by the state of the materials is possible up to a point:
It should be understood that molds can grow very quickly under optimal conditions. Thus, in the laboratory, an incubation of one week makes it possible to obtain identifiable molds. Indoors, conditions are not optimal and it takes longer to have large colonies. In our experience it takes several weeks or even months before a surface is covered with mold. However, the condition of the structural timber allows for longer-term dating. This is because wood is naturally resistant to mold and will not rot immediately.