It’s been pretty damp lately in some parts of the country, given the dramatic amount of precipitation that fell in one form or another this past winter. For many parts of the country, spring is simply bringing more precipitation and the sun isn’t out enough to help deal with all the moisture. This leads to perfect conditions to help foster mold growth. Use this comprehensive 18-point checklist to prevent mold growth in your facility or office building.
__ Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope as soon as possible. Watch for condensation and wet spots.
__ Fix sources of moisture as soon as possible (within the 24-hour to 48-hour window).
__ Take steps to prevent moisture from condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level (humidity) in the air. One way to increase surface temperature is to increase air circulation. To reduce humidity, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
__ Condensation can also be prevented by adding insulation to reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (e.g., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors).
__ Use insulation or storm windows. A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside.
__ Contact your HVAC equipment supplier or manufacturer for recommended maintenance schedules and maintenance manuals.
__ Keep HVAC drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
__ Check HVAC filters regularly to ensure that they are seated properly.
__ Replace HVAC filters on a routine schedule.
__ Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside.
__ Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60 percent relative humidity (RH), ideally 30 percent to 50 percent RH, if possible.
__ Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled.
__ Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
__ Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation.
__ Polyurethane and rubber foams seem especially prone to fungus invasion. Office furniture made with these foams should be covered in plastic.
__ Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with subflooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
__ Do not install carpet in areas where there are perpetual moisture problems, e.g., drinking fountains, sinks, bathrooms, concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation.
__ Promote groundwater drainage away from the building. Clear vegetation near the foundation and in the rain gutters. Completely shaded buildings dry out slowly, and dense bushes and other plants around the foundation often promote dampness. In the winter, condensation on cold walls encourages mold growth, but even thick insulation can be invaded if vapor barriers in exterior walls are not effective.
Fixing a Mold Problem
The easiest fix to a mold problem is also the cheapest. Here’s what you do–dry any affected area within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth. Don’t wait until after mold formation, a facility can face expensive remediation and potential litigation from affected parties.