Meruliporia incrassata damage to a building (C) Daniel FriedmanUsing Microbiological Assessment for Structural Wood Timber or Beam Damage Evaluation
How experts assess the structural integrity of wood framing or wood timbers in-situ

  • WOOD BEAM MICROBIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT - CONTENTS: assessment of the effectiveness of microbial assessment to detect wood rot & structural damage
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about methods used in testing structural wood members for damage or decay & the role of micro-drilling tests for in-situ evaluation of structural wood beams, timbers, or other framing members in buildings..

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Use if micobiological assessment - expertise in wood-destroying fungi - in determining the soundness of wood structural members.

This article discusses the role of mycology and microbiology in detecting & assessing damage to wood beams, joists, posts, studs, rafters etc. Mycology can provide key information about the conditions that invite wood destroying fungi (molds such as Meruliporia incrassata - the "house eating fungus"), as well as assisting in recognition of mold infection or contamination in structures. Page top photograph: yellow Meruliporia incrassata fungal growth on an indoor wood surface.

This article series describes the various methods used to test & evaluate the structural integrity of wood-framed buildings where focus is on the condition of structural wood posts, beams and other framing members. We discuss the problems surrounding hidden rot or decay, the presence or absence of moisture or other instrument-detectable clues, and the problem of subjective decisions to replace or not-replace suspect wood structural members.

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Microbiologist / Mycologist Methods for Wood Structural Member Assessment

Meruliporia incrassata damage to a building (C) Daniel FriedmanPaul Probett, Clinton Craig, Blake Probett, Incodo Forensic Building Specialists [1]

This article series on methods for assessing structural wood rot & damage is adapted & expanded from the author's "An Introduction to Micro-Drilling Technology for N. Z. Structural Timber Assessment" and is used with permission. We [DF] have added comments, some illustrations, and additional article citations.

At the references section we include a link to the original article as well as contact information for the authors and Incodo Ltd., a Tauranga, New Zealand forensic engineering firm.

[Click to enlarge any image or illustration]

Using microbiological assessment requires an expert, mateiral samples, time, cost. Often we use microbiological assessment as an additional method to aid a visual assessment of rot damage to a structure.

Scope = Microscopic to sample size (minor usage in deciding actual replacement, adds genuine weight to reports). Not in situ assessment

Note: in our opinion, microbiologists and aerobiologists can provide a useful supporting role in assessing building conditions (mold or other IAQ hazards) including providing additional screening for evidence of hidden but active wood destroying fungi.

Few microbiologists nor mycologists have the requisite familiarity with building science and construction failures to serve as a primary building screener for hidden damage.

But those sciences can add important depth of understanding to field observations by others. For example, a mycologist can explain that if we see "mushrooms" growing out of wood framing members, there is almost certainly substantial hidden rot damage that merits further invasive inspection. Similarly, the identification of some mold genera/species by spore trap or dust sampling can yield important insights into building conditions and the risk of hidden damage.

For example we have found high levels of Meruliporia incrassata. spores in building environmental samples at levels indicating a nearby infection of this wood destroying fungus. But unless the work is conducted by someone who is also expert in building science and who is also familiar with construction methods and construction inspection methods, such assessments are likely to be unreliable.

See MERULIPORIA MOLD PHOTOS for details. Photo, above of Meruliporia incrassata and other fungal materials - Daniel Friedman, InspectAPedia lab.

Cosmetic black mold on framing lumber (C) Daniel FriedmanShown in the photograph a left, the black cosmetic mold seen on this floor joist is not a wood destroying fungus.

See BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS for a discussion of the visual recognition of harmless black molds found on framing lumber.

For a guide to the visual recognition of building molds and mold contamination

Watch out: In our view, building "testing" by collecting surface, air, or dust samples for lab analysis, while they can considerably expand the scope of a building assessment beyond "microscopic sample size", are of questionable accuracy unless there is accompanying expert visual inspection and history taking.. - DF

Note: Above information is copyright, commercially sensitive and is yet to be peer reviewed. It is not to be copied or circulated without the express and written permission of Incodo Limited. Adapted here by, with permission from Incodo 8/5/2012, technical review is in process.

V4a 06/12 - ####


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