Ralph E. Moon, PhD, CHMM, CIAQP – Water Damage, Duration of Loss & Building Science

Air Date: 2-1-2013| Episode: 272

This week IAQ Radio welcomes Ralph E. Moon, PhD, CHMM, CIAQP for a wide ranging discussion on water damage, duration of loss studies and building science issues…

Full Description:

This week IAQ Radio welcomes Ralph E. Moon, PhD, CHMM, CIAQP for a wide ranging discussion on water damage, duration of loss studies and building science issues. Dr. Moon is Building Science Discipline Manager, Principle Scientist and a shareholder with HSA Engineers and Scientists of Tampa Florida. HSA is an industry-leading, engineering consulting and forensics investigation firm with 13 offices in the SE US with over 300 employees.


Dr. Moon has over 30 years of experience in the areas of duration of loss studies, risk assessment, project management, industrial hygiene and indoor air quality assessments. Dr. Moon has a unique background that combines extensive field experience, seminar development and presentation, research, and legal services in IAQ, building science and disaster restoration. He is an expert on duration of loss and assessment of water damaged buildings. He has also done research on cleaning and restoration of contents and building materials that our listeners will find particularly fascinating.


Z-Man’s Blog

Moon Rising

“I hear hurricanes a blowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

The lyrics to Bad Moon Rising was a perfect introduction to today’s wide ranging discussion with Dr. Ralph Moon, PhD about building science, water damage and remediation on IAQradio.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
• Important elements of materials drying: 1) raise kinetic energy of the water molecule with energy or temperature stimulating a change from capillary moisture to vapor, 2) do this in an environment accepting of water, 3) evaporation moisture away from wet surface.

• Differences between new and old construction: Using the analogy of the evolution of the automobile, Model T, 1950s, to current autos. Patterns of damage are dependent on building design. Old indigenous housing stock affected by Hurricane Katrina performed well: balconies, large staircases aerated by open ventilation, attic fans, plaster walls; older homes dry naturally. 1960s landscaping with berms hold water against houses, channel roof drainage adjacent to houses, permit crawlspaces to collect moisture resulting in water damage and fungal contamination.

• New engineered “was-wood” type products manage moisture differently than solid wood.

• Duration of loss. Evidence of prior losses to current evident, prior to current event.

• Has conducted an extended length lab study (>200 days) of effect of moisture on wall system construction: confirms a natural succession of species. Fungal amplification affected by: water activity, available sugars, enzymatic effect of fungi. Aspergillus grew first, other opportunistic fungal species include: Cladosporium, Chaetomium, Curvularia and Bipolaris. Opined 3-4 months required for Stachybotrys to grow.

• Conducting a current study of exposing wood to fresh water and salt water.

• Carbon source needed to trigger fungal growth. Bacteria grow before fungi.

• Curious about the effect of dried salts on moisture monitoring and humidity attraction?

• Has studied the effect of moisture on cabinetry, particle board inundated with water failed in 60 days, presence of detergent in water extends the area of penetration spreading water out resulting in less damage.

• Different microorganisms found in fresh and salt water.

• Cave effect, aka “humidity bloom”, covered windows, hurricane shutters, vegetation covering windows, results in less sensible heat load requiring less HVAC use, with the unanticipated consequence of less moisture management resulting in fungal growth on contents.

• Be the teacher, enlighten clients.

• The inspection and report we make today may take 3-5 years to surface during litigation. A clear defensible scope of work and documenting unusual circumstances or conditions are strategies to avoid litigation. Recommended reading: Guidelines for Forensic Engineering Practice, Joshua B. Kardon

• By studying the behavior of moisture on materials you develop a technical/scientific basis so your testimony is not just opinion.

• Aesthetic acceptance and emotional are factors influencing a client’s decision to accept water damaged clothing and furnishings.

• Availability of sugars and fats on fabrics stimulates microbial growth,.

• Steam pressing helps deactivate fungal spores and denature mycotoxins. Wet washing with detergent and bleach is the most effective restoration method for fungal contaminated clothing

• Remember, your interaction with adjusters and insurance carriers, effects their overall perception of our industry.
Today’s music: Bad Moon Rising, by Credence Clearwater Revival.
Z-Man signing off