Five Tips to Minimize Mold Risk During and After a Prolonged Shutdown
There are different ways to get rid of, prevent mold damage and stay safe after extensive time away from the workplace where mold keeps forming.
- By Stuart Kerr
- May 03, 2021
Returning to a building after a prolonged shutdown is especially prevalent in the current climate. Across the world, the reopening of offices, shops and more means discoveries of mold and other dangers.
During periods of inactivity, all kinds of hazards can discreetly develop within properties, especially where maintenance hasn’t been performed as it would have been.
From contamination, down to plumbing corrosion, hazards increase exponentially when a property is vacant. One of the most frequently occurring hazards is mold, which often develops even after brief periods of inactivity. Even if it’s the tiniest bit damp, mold can develop in an inactive building. Where a window would normally be open, or air conditioning on, an inactive building will have neither of these. A building only has to be inactive for a matter of days before mold can develop, which will largely depend on the conditions of a property, the season (especially wintertime) and different weather.
Experts in mould removal and remediation rely on tried and tested solutions to assist with mold removal. While the best solution is always prevention, mold can, and often does, develop discreetly.
If this happens, an expert will need to be called in to treat the area to prevent mould growing back and correctly remove any existing residue.
For a building or facilities manager, mold prevention and removal is an important role. If a building has been left unattended, especially during the winter, consider these expert tips to help it recover from hazards and mold damage. This will help when it comes to preventing future outbreaks.
Why is Mold a ‘Hazard’?
Typically, mold is identifiable by its signs of property damage or effects on human health with cold-like symptoms. Mold develops visibly, through blue/green dots on a wall, often in corners or near breaks in a wall. If it seems musty or damp, then mold could be developing nearby, as well.
Mold has long been considered a health and safety hazard. This is often because of certain conditions within the property such as leaks in the wall, floods that haven’t been cleaned correctly or residual dampness.
Where mold feeds on organic matter like wood, it can quickly develop from appearing, to causing it to rot. Mold can be a symptom of buildings with higher levels of moisture. This can, if left untreated by experts, accelerate deterioration, rot and put the building at further risk.
Mold is just as hazardous on a building’s health as it is for the residents of a property, whether they are employees or inhabitants. According to the Centre of Disease Control (CDC), mold is ‘toxigenic’ and can undermine human health either by causing allergic reactions or by polluting air quality for those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Preventing and Minimizing Mold Risk
“Prevention is better than a cure” is the saying; this also applies to mold. Getting rid of any signs of mold early on could mean that risk can be minimized and avoid excessive cost later on. Prevention and detection are crucial tasks for a facility’s manager and should form part of early inspections after returning to an inactive building.
Manage Humidity Levels
Mold is more receptive to certain conditions, particularly when humidity levels are optimal for fungal growth which is above 50 percent. Property managers should regularly assess and evaluate indoor humidity levels, using the proper equipment, such as a digital hygrometer.
This process of monitoring for mold based on humidity levels should be consistent and performed as routinely as required. The higher the humidity in the building, the more often this should be carried out, because mold growth can be accelerated under humidity and spread within days. For example, a building with no plants to absorb moisture could be at higher risk for humidity than one that is naturally lit.
Perform a Risk Assessment and building inspection
No matter the length of shutdown, an unoccupied building should be inspected for mould growth, dampness and any signs of fungal growth. Assess the premise thoroughly with expert guidance and if mold is identified, treat it through a specialist process of remediation. If possible, this can regularly occur during a shutdown to maintain a buildings condition.
Identifying mold or other similar risks in a building should be a starting priority for its reopening, long before any members of the public or staff are invited back. Building inspections quickly identify areas affected by mold, which will need specialist treatment to ensure future outbreaks can be prevented.
Similar to ventilation, mould breeds and multiplies when the conditions are favorable. Plumbing failures, such as leaks, are great starting points for mold to grow and develop. This is because moisture will help mold materialize in hard-to-clean spots. Areas that seep or leak moisture are hotspots for mold growth, commonly found around piping or unsealed window frames or doorways.
If moisture levels climb, then a restoration consultation will guide you through the process of recovery, returning your building to its former state.
Check your ventilation, all systems--including HVAC–are great hideaways for mold, which can make this damage seem invisible, especially if hidden behind vents. If a building has been temporarily shut down, the HVAC systems are likely to be dormant, creating a hive of unhygienic activity. If switched on without a full clean, this will spread any unhygienic matter around the building, leading to a risk of unnecessary damage.
When it comes to preventing mold in vents, ensure the building’s ventilation is cleaned thoroughly before opening.