Moisture issues in schools and office buildings can be cause for alarm—often contributing to respiratory problems and unwanted mold growth. Whether from window and roof leaks, high indoor humidity, or flooding, moisture needs to be controlled to maintain a safe environment. To keep these buildings safe, we’re sharing common causes for excessive moisture, preventative steps to decrease the chance of mold, and what to look for on routine maintenance checks.
Causes of Mold in Schools and Offices
Have you ever walked into an old building and immediately noticed a musty smell? While some factors (such as the age of a building) contribute to indoor moisture issues, there are a variety of conditions that can lead to mold.
1. Building Construction Practices
Throughout the decades, construction regulations have been constantly changing and updating. While most buildings go through annual inspections to stay up to code, both old and new construction is susceptible to elevated humidity or water leaks.
In newer structures, regulations often require incredibly tight seals that prevent moisture from going in or out. While this is beneficial for not letting damp air in, it becomes a moisture issue when air cannot escape. If a building is well-regulated with HVAC and dehumidifiers, then the indoor air will have a humidity between 30-60 percent. On the reverse side, an aging building can have worn or missing seals, failing HVAC systems, or a history of leaks.
2. Delayed Maintenance or Insufficient Funds
No matter the age of a school or office building, delayed maintenance for a water or moisture issue is highly likely to contribute to mold growth. (We circle back to preventing a maintenance mistake below, so keep reading). Additionally, slow repair times are often due to a lack of funds and personnel. This can especially be an issue in schools experiencing rapid growth, when portable classrooms or trailers are hastily constructed.
In all buildings, it’s crucial to inspect roofs, HVAC systems, basements, crawlspaces, locker rooms, gymnasiums, and other moisture-generating areas for annual repairs and signs of mold. Similar to home maintenance checklists, non-industrial buildings must keep up on regular maintenance schedules. If you’re not confident on what to look out for, follow the steps to prevent mold and health-related illnesses below.
Learn More: How “Does Mold Damage Property?”
Preventative Steps to Reduce the Risk of Mold
1. Respond Quickly
Whenever water damage or moisture is present, acting swiftly is key. A rapid response time can mean saving thousands of dollars—and your peace of mind. If water or moisture is left for more than 48 hours, it can cause irreversible damage and begin harboring mold. As soon as you notice the damage, begin removing water, cleaning, and drying the affected areas. Then, we advise you to:
- Fix the source of the problem to prevent further damage.
- Clean and dry any wet building materials within 24-48 hours.
- Remove any saturated carpeting or porous materials.
- Completely dry the area before beginning restoration.
If the water damage is extensive or you discover mold, consider calling an expert water restoration company to lend a hand.
2. Manage Moisture and Indoor Humidity
A large part of controlling mold growth and its resulting health problems is by managing moisture in the air. Any building’s indoor humidity level can fluctuate between 30-60%, but it’s important to keep the moisture content from rising any higher. To prevent an increase, you can take the following measures:
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to control moisture levels.
- Establish proper outside ventilation for showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, gymnasiums, and other moisture-generating areas.
- Utilize venting fans in food preparation areas when cooking or cleaning.
3. Control Condensation
While condensation is easy to look over, its consistent cycles of moisture can sneak up and cause mold in unsuspecting places. In order to avoid this issue, consider inspecting the following moisture-generating areas and adhering to these suggestions.
- Do not place carpet by drinking fountains, sinks, on concrete floors, or in school laboratories.
- Add insulation to areas where condensation often accumulates. (On cold windows, doors, floors, or walls).
- Immediately clean carpet or floors when spots, stains, or spills are discovered. Allow the surfaces to dry as quickly and completely as possible.
Awareness of Maintenance Schedules
When it comes to maintaining a non-industrial building such as a school or office, the easiest way to prevent mold will always be to schedule routine maintenance checks and keep an eye out for signs of excessive moisture.
If you believe a building is cause for concern, or it has recently experienced water damage, give us a call—or fill out the form below to schedule an assessment. Our 24/7 emergency response team is here to answer your questions and repair your building as quickly as possible.
We service the following locations: