Recently I was asked to observe the existing conditions of an almost completed apartment building. To my surprise I noticed the existence of mold in one apartment, condition that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Molds are fungi that
can be found anywhere, indoors or outdoors. It’s often found in damp, dark, hidden spaces, all areas that lack of adequate air circulation or lighting.
Mold spores can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source are present. Indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials, producing a foul smell, affecting the look of building surfaces, and sometimes having a negative effect in wood frame buildings.
In buildings, mold can grow on sheetrock, insulation, carpet, wood floors, etc. It is practically impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores, but controlling moisture content in an environment, can prevent indoor mold from growing. Leaky roofs, faulty gutters, or even grass watering can contribute to mold growth. A combustion appliance without the proper ventilation can also produce mold.
The way that mold growth can affect a human being is by causing allergic reactions, which include runny nose and red eyes.
In order to prevent moisture buildup, the following measures should be considered to prevent human exposure and further damage to building materials and furnishings:
• Rapidly repair any plumbing leaks detected in a building.
• Locate and remediate any condensation present in a space.
• Reduce the moisture level in the air, and increase surface temperature by providing proper insulation. Use a dehumidifier if outdoor air is warm and humid.
• Keeping HVAC drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
• Performing regularly scheduled building/ HVAC inspections and maintenance, including filter changes.
• Maintaining indoor relative humidity below 70% (25 – 60%, if possible).
• Venting moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
• Venting kitchens (cooking areas) and bathrooms according to local code requirements.
• Providing adequate drainage around buildings and sloping the ground away from building foundations. Follow all local building codes.
Mold can generally be removed from nonporous surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water and detergent. If the affected surface is of a substantial size, it should be removed completely. Any porous material that has been contaminated with mold, should be discarded in a sealed container.
The use of fungicides developed for outdoor use in any indoor application is not an option, since they can be extremely toxic to humans and animals in an enclosed environment.
When mold repair is needed, you should make certain to hire a contractor that has a vast experience with dealing with mold treatment and discarding procedures.