What is Your Wall-Covering Actually Covering Up?
As a building contractor serving restaurant facility managers throughout the Southeastern US, we have seen our fair share of moisture intrusion. Oftentimes, what lurks behind the front of house wall covering could be likened to a chemistry lab experiment. The combination of a moisture source (like outside humidity) cool conditioned interior air and building construction components that combine and “store” these elements can lead to unhealthy and unsightly issues. These issues can exist hidden for long periods of time and require commercial mold remediation.
Moisture inside of walls can and usually does originate from roof leaks, improper parapet cap flashings, voids in exterior caulking/sealants and even body paint that has lost its water repelling characteristics. This hidden condition will eventually start to reveal itself via mildew staining to wainscot wall finishes, peeling wall covering and, of course the ultimate indicator, an offensive “musty” odor apparent to both guests and crew. With the use of a moisture meter, the Facilities Manager can readily identify higher levels of moisture contained within the wall and the wall finishes determining if mold remediation process may be necessary.
Care of the highest degree should be taken once moisture intrusion is detected. Mold spores which develop and grow on organic surfaces and thrive from the environment’s moisture can be released into the environment if proper precautions are not taken.
Before tearing into the damaged walls, air samples should be taken to determine what unfriendly particles are present within the restaurant environment. With this knowledge, a remediation protocol can then be established. Generally, larger areas of remediation usually require workspace containment and even protective clothing and breathing devices for the workers during mold removal.
Once the source of the water intrusion is completely identified and corrected, the mold remediation plan will call for the complete removal of wet components to include wood trim, wainscoting, drywall and even insulation. Prior to starting the “put-back” process, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers should be used to dry and cleanse wall cavity areas followed by antimicrobial encapsulation treatment to the buildings framing components.
The last step is to ensure that all of the unhealthy spores are eradicated from the building. This is accomplished with another round of air sampling so that the results can be compared with both the initial readings and the baseline outside environment air.
Finally, following a successful mold remediation process, put-back efforts can begin and the restaurant can be returned to the proper fit and finish.
The importance of both preventive maintenance to building exterior waterproofing components and periodic inspection of your facilities cansave thousands of dollars in unplanned facility budget expenses as well as operational disruptions for the restaurant. Moisture meters are readily available and should be a part of your restaurant facility inspection toolkit.