Although facility managers should always be on the lookout for potential sources of mold growth, rainy fall weather and peak hurricane season makes moisture control and mold prevention a top priority in building management.
It is essential that facility executives address moisture and water damage a promptly manner. These problems will not go away by themselves and are strong indicators that a building is prime for indoor mold growth. Left unchecked, indoor mold growth can cause serious damage to building materials and furnishings and may cause people to get sick. In addition, it is far less disruptive and expensive to clean up mold as soon as a problem is found than later when the infestation may be more extensive. It is also important to remember, that any cleaning efforts will be futile if the underlying moisture problem is not identified and eliminated. (more about examining mold risk here ) There are several ways to prevent indoor mold from taking over your building, here are the most essential, as listed in two great articles on mold prevention by www. FMlink.com and www.buildings.com
Fix Leaks. Facility managers should check for leaky roofs, foundations, faucets, and pipes on a regular basis, making sure they aren’t allowing extra moisture to accumulate in these areas. Leaks should be fixed as soon as they are found.
Assess current drainage and slope directions. As much as possible, drainage and slope should head away from the foundation of your building. If your building is located at the bottom of a hill, make sure internal and external drainage systems are adequate, clean, and functioning properly.
Keep humidity under control. The ideal humidity for a building is between 30% and 50%. Relative humidity can be measured with an inexpensive moisture or humidity meter.
Remove wet materials as soon as possible. If a building has experienced flooding or other water damage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends removing all porous items, such as carpet, upholstery, drywall, and ceiling tiles within 48 hours. If an area larger than 10 square feet has been affected, the EPA recommends hiring a qualified mold remediation specialist to help with removal.
Perform HVAC systems inspections and routine maintenance. Properly inspected and maintained HVAC systems affect your building operations on many levels, including positive IAQ—a key factor in moisture control. Humidification and dehumidification systems must be kept clean to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria and fungi. Poor or no water treatment in cooling towers can result in the growth of hazardous organisms that will then filter into the HVAC supply ducts. An accumulation of water anywhere in the system can result in harmful biological growth that can be rapidly distributed throughout the entire building. Drip pans for equipment must always be clean and unobstructed in order to ensure proper water flow.
Perform unscheduled maintenance. If you have recently experienced flooding, water leakage, or heavy rains, don’t wait for your scheduled inspections to look for mold growth. Remember, mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 hours, so don’t delay. The extra effort you put forth immediately can save you from major building damage, significant money output to clean up mold, and the headaches and stress involved in a full-blown mold remediation process.
Watch for ground water. Checking the exterior of buildings regularly will help avoid the accumulation of ground water, which can cause mold. If found, route water away using downspouts and re-grade to slope water away from the building.
Ensure proper housekeeping. Dirt on surfaces supplies mold with the nutrients it needs to grow. Cleaning and disinfecting with nonpolluting cleaners and antimicrobial agents can provide protection against mold growth.
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