Mold in commercial buildings can become a BIG problem.
It can disrupt business, negatively affect the health of customers and employees. As a property owner. it’s problem you don’t want to have.
Also, lets not forget the legal problems that comes with it.
In this guide, you’ll 10 ways to help prevent mold in commercial buildings.
What Causes Mold In Commercial Buildings?
Moisture can lead to the growth of mold which can cause health problems especially in people who are allergic or sensitive such as asthma sufferers.
The risk increases if mold grows indoors. Therefore, the control of moisture within a building is important. In commercial buildings one major source of moisture is ‘condensation’ issues.
Condensation from water vapor being absorbed by cool surfaces whether they be metal, wood or stone may require additional ventilation or air conditioning to remove them. Warm humid air condenses against cooler surfaces resulting in condensation on the outer walls that collects dirt and allows microorganism to grow.
This is one type of humidity problem called ‘wet’ or ‘damp’ and it is not generally considered mold but wet rot can create perfect conditions for a small amount of mold to start growing.
The next type of humidity problem is called ‘dry.’
This occurs when warm dry air meets cooler surfaces. The air will take moisture out of the surface or walls on contact, resulting in cracks and opening that encourage mold growth to occur.
A third source of condensation is known as stack effect. Stack effect results from wind causing warm moist air to rise in a building, while cool ambient air replaces the rising layer, bringing down drier air with lower relative humidity levels which have greater capacity to absorb moisture.
This can cause condensation problems at roof level if windows are open or at floor level where cold air flow meets warm air.
This is the typical moldy ceiling you see in kitchens with overhead cabinets or in bathrooms and laundry rooms which are areas that are difficult to ventilate properly.
There are several ways to prevent condensation in buildings:
All commercial, industrial and domestic buildings need some form of ventilation.
Fresh outside air must be brought into a building while stale indoor air is removed in order to maintain an appropriate fresh/stale inside environment for people working, living and eating in the building.
Without proper ventilation mold will grow inside the structure because the moisture levels continue to increase as we breathe out water vapor which forms more humidity (relative levels) inside than outdoors due to poorly maintained or nonexistent ventilation.
2. Air conditioning
This is a simple way to control and remove humidity from the structure of the building by cooling the air inside and maintaining relative humidity levels through proper filtration and circulation management.
3. Proper insulation
It is important to maintain efficient thermal properties in a structure so that heat can be withdrawn from higher areas to lower areas such as attics and basements where it cannot be removed, otherwise condensation will occur on surfaces below this temperature difference threshold.
In older buildings insulation can become degraded over time allowing more moisture absorption resulting in mold growth. Insulation also slows down warm air convection, which helps reduce stack effect but also makes heating systems work longer and harder, wasting energy since they have to work longer to heat and cool a building.
4. Increase or reduce humidity in the structure
Increasing temperature or relative humidity levels can also be controlled by installing humidifiers and dehumidifiers, which work well when combined with an air conditioning system to maintain proper relative humidity levels throughout the year.
5. Ventilation fans
These help remove moisture by removing stale as well as fresh air from inside the building to prevent condensation conditions on surfaces, especially during hot summer weather when windows are closed and AC is not functioning properly or at all.
Depending on energy costs in different countries that use more natural resources compared to other countries where AC remains on all year round (the same situation applies for heating systems). Moisture in the home should be removed to prevent mold growth.
6. Indoor air quality
All homes and buildings should be ventilated, aired out or even have outdoor access to let in fresh air from time to time so that the humidity concentrations are kept as low as possible (normally 30-50% RH).
Ventilation is required for all structures in order to maintain indoor air quality by ensuring that there are no moisture build up problems inside the building.
High levels of moisture will cause mold contamination if not properly managed. Proper ventilation also speeds up drying of materials after it rains or when exposed to water supply from washing machine leaks which causes higher relative humidity levels for a short period of time.
7. Outdoor plants & gardens
Having living plants indoors reduces the need for humidification.
The increase of plant life in interior spaces helps prevent mold growth and makes the air fresh inside with less humidity levels compared to synthetic materials such as plastic or vinyl.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide, producing oxygen while releasing water vapor into the environment through transpiration (the release of water vapor from plant leaves). The key is to not have too many plants indoors.
8. Frozen water pipes
Water pipes also act as humidifiers. This is why they be insulated properly so that heat can be removed when warm water is flowing through them that creates a temperature difference.
This insulation will prevent condensation from occurring on cold surfaces such as outside walls and ceilings during winter months when there would normally be more moisture in the air.
9. Drainage system
In order to prevent mold formation, it is important that a building’s drainage system is clean and well maintained so that any standing water, puddles or leaks do not remain after rain events.
Mold will begin to grow on building materials that remain wet for long periods. Having an effective drainage system also prevents flooding depending on the amount of precipitation where you are located.
A lighting maintenance schedule should be implemented as part of an overall plan to reduce mold growth in commercial buildings. Excessive heat is generated when lights are left on all day (or night) which causes higher temperatures inside the building.
Bright lights also have a negative impact on natural circadian rhythms and melatonin release. This is one of the reasons why people can’t sleep at night, it’s too bright inside their bedroom since they use various light sources such as LED and fluorescent bulbs.
The solution to high heat caused by excessive lighting is immediately turning them off when not in use. Also, using dimmer switches for different rooms which saves electricity and helps reduce relative humidity levels.
What Types Of Mold Are Commonly Found In Commercial Buildings?
Indoor mold is common in many commercial buildings and can be harmful. The most common are the black and green molds such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria or Stachybotrys Chartarum.
It’s best to use a dehumidifiers, fans, and ventilation systems for added protection when combatting molds and moisture problems in buildings.
How To Ensure Mold Growth Is Prevented In Commercial Buildings?
It is recommended that all porous materials including carpeting are removed if dampness has occurred before any new installation occurs, neutral cleaners should be used on affected areas after removing old materials in order to kill any existing mold that has occurred.
The use of a dehumidifier helps to remove the moisture from indoor air.
Any area affected by mold should be completely eliminated by a mold remediation professional.
Key Points To Remember
- Ventilate the building if possible with fans and air conditioning systems.
- Make sure that all moisture problems are addressed or removed as soon as possible.
- Use neutral pH cleaners to clean all moldy areas including walls and floors
- Use sealants over openings such as windows, door frames and other places where water can get in or out of the structure via penetrating cracks
- Insulate pipes leading outside from hot water heaters etc…
- Ensure the air conditioning system is serviced as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Remove mold infested materials completely
- Prevent condensation build-up with insulators and dehumidifiers
- Ventilate bathrooms, laundry areas and kitchens
- If you have a mold or moisture problem, contact a professional company that can take the right steps to get the job done safely.