Seven Ways to Prevent Mold-Related Problems in your Building or Facility

At times, HVAC professionals must deal with mold and mildew. Those tiny, lightweight spores traveling through the air need moisture and the right temperatures to grow and turn into unsightly and foul smelling organisms that can eat away at fabric and other surfaces and can be detrimental to your health. If these microorganisms proliferate in buildings, they can adversely impact indoor air quality (IAQ), create hazardous health conditions for the occupants and contribute to the deterioration of building components.

To clear up confusion: mold and mildew are terms that describe fungi. Mildew – often thin and black, dark blue/green or sometimes white – can grow into mold. A single spore can germinate and grow into a colony the size of a quarter or half dollar in a few days or weeks.

Molds produce spores in order to reproduce, and there is no way to completely get rid of them in indoor or outdoor air. But you can deal with mold and mildew spores before they become your enemies. The key to mold prevention is moisture control.

Here are seven ways to prevent mold if you are a building or facility manager:

  1. Identify and Control moisture – Regular checks of the building envelope and drainage systems should be made and if an area is damaged by water, it’s important to dry all surfaces within 24-48 hours. Eliminate sources of dampness.
  2. Keep the areas clean where mildew is likely to grow – closets, bathrooms and other things that might be damp. Be sure to vacuum and sweep regularly.
  3. Keep clothes clean – soiled, dirty clothes can provide food for mildew spores to grow. Don’t allow clothes or other fabrics to lie around wet and regularly wipe all shower liners.
  4. Be sure air-conditioning systems are properly installed – cold air holds less moisture than warm air.
  5. Take proper waterproofing measures – a basement is one area that should be waterproofed to prevent moisture accumulation.
  6. Install a good filter system on your HVAC system – filters need to be changed regularly, particularly for damp filters and overall cleanliness. A preventive maintenance plan should be put in place for each major component of the HVAC system.
  7. Be sure to stay informed – Information on IAQ and indoor mold exposures is constantly changing. As new and critical information develops building professionals and occupants should incorporate it into successful resolution of any existing or potential mold problems.

You can also check out our Controlling Mold: An HVAC Professional’s Guide in our learning center or view the OSHA Guide to preventing mold-related problems in the indoor workplace.

Small amounts of mold and mildew can often be cleaned up by non-professionals, but HVAC contractors are needed in cases of extensive damage. People who suffer from allergies, asthma and respiratory conditions or suppressed immune systems are most susceptible to the spores and should probably call a contractor to solve the problem for them.

HVAC systems can also be sources of mildew, which is why it’s a good idea to call on a professional who can develop strategies to prevent mold.

What else can you do? Check out these resources:

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