Tools to Diagnose IAQ

  September 29, 2010

Numerous IAQ studies have determined faulty ventilation results in inadequate airflow, which causes most IAQ problems. But faulty ventilation is not as obvious as something such as mold growth. So where is the best place to start when implementing an IAQ-improvement program? Diagnostic tools can help to locate hard-to-find IAQ problems.

In-house airflow measurements can be quickly obtained using an air-balance multimeter, which measures individual air velocity, temperature, and pressure. A flow-hood kit can also be used, which saves time by taking multiple air-velocity readings simultaneously and converting them into average airflow rates.

A handful of other diagnostic tools can be used to identify specific particulates or gases, including:

Thermal imagers, which detect moisture from roof leaks or piping leaks hidden inside walls. Wet surfaces are colder than dry areas.

Hot wire detectors, which use thermal conductivity to measure concentrations of inorganic gases.

Electron capture detectors, which detect chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Flame photometric detectors, which measure concentrations of sulfur and phosphorus compounds.

A mass selective detector, which measures the volume of IAQ pollutants and can identify unknown chemicals.


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