Most of us have heard stories about firms being forced to close down due to severe mold infestation in a commercial structure, resulting in employees’ respiratory issues.
Business comes to a halt, and the company executives can face significant legal ramifications as a result.
With the potential health risks, building damage, and negative financial impact on a business, it’s critical to establish a procedure for mold prevention in commercial structures.
The good news is that indoor mold growth can be prevented by the regular facility and building maintenance, upkeep, and inspections, as well as appropriate design, installation, and maintenance of commercial HVAC systems.
How Can Mold Get a Foothold in your Facility?
Mold can grow on a variety of materials, including drywall, carpeting, textiles, and wood.
Mold thrives in buildings that have an ample source of food, moisture, and the right conditions.
Mold can get a foothold in your facility in many ways, including:
- Leaks in exterior walls or roofs that aren’t addressed quickly enough.
- Plumbing leaks on the roof or under the building.
- Cracks or gaps at joints, beams, siding, or other points of entry where moisture can make its way into your facility.
- Improperly insulated piping and HVAC
- Condensation may develop on windows when the temperature outside drops and indoor air is warmed, causing moisture. Mold thrives in an environment with too much interior moisture.
- Sewer backups in the facility.
- Leaks from a poorly maintained heating venting and air conditioning system. Clogged condensate disposal lines cause millions of damage in commercial buildings annually.
- Flooding in basement areas that go unnoticed is also a frequent cause of mold growth in commercial structures.
The problem with mold for commercial buildings
Molds aren’t all bad. For example, some molds are utilized to create delicious cheeses and lifesaving antibiotics like penicillin.
That does not mean that it should be growing in your facility.
What commercial building managers should be concerned about is the growth, possible impact on the indoor air, and possible building structural damage if mold growth is left unaddressed.
Mold sensitivity is common and some individuals are susceptible to its effects.
Mold spores can cause allergic reactions in some workers, including coughing, sneezing, stuffiness of the nasal passages, eye irritation, and skin rashes. Workers who have underlying health conditions and respiratory ailments are more likely to be affected by mold growth.
Molds have the potential to produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially mycotoxins, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In a nutshell, interior mold growth is not to be taken lightly. It can have a significant impact on employee performance and health.
How To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Facility
Poor building maintenance and poorly maintained HVAC systems may contribute to mold formation in commercial facilities if basic knowledge of mold is understood.
When mold is visible, it’s usually considered an issue and must be addressed. You can prevent mold formation in commercial buildings by identifying the conditions that encourage mold to grow and spread.
The most effective approach to prevent mold formation is to maintain your facility and fix any moisture-related issues as soon as they occur.
Here are some ideas for preventing mold infestation in your facility:
- Regularly, check the building for moisture, mold, and water damage. Mold is devious. Having a well-developed inspection checklist can be beneficial when conducting monthly or weekly inspections.
- Good housekeeping practices can prevent mold infestation in commercial buildings. Dry up spills, avoid the accumulation of wet materials in the facility.
- Maintain indoor humidity levels between 30-60 percent.
- Don’t use ceiling tiles made of cellulose which are likely to absorb moisture.
- Check facility water lines for condensation which can encourage growth.
- Take care of any leaks or water damage that you find as soon as possible.
- Regularly clean the HVAC system coils and drip pans. Moisture builds up quickly in pans that are plugged and do not drain, becoming a mold-friendly environment and causing water damage to building materials.
- Check for any moisture in the HVAC system’s ductwork and components, such as air handlers, blowers, and enclosed spaces.
- Keep walls and floors dry by cleaning all sections of the property, including bathrooms.
- Examine the HVAC air intakes’ position. Inside the structure, fungal spores may be driven upward by air being drawn in from regions near standing water or trash bins.
- Inspect the exterior of the building for cracks and openings where moisture can seep in. Look for any damaged gutters and downspouts that can cause water to seep into the building.
- Keep the building properly ventilated by having adequate HVAC airflow. Ensure vents are not blocked by items.
- If you have a larger commercial facility, it may be beneficial to use a mold-mitigation company that can conduct a risk assessment to determine if conditions are present that can contribute to mold infestation situations.
- Educate your maintenance personnel and custodial staff on mold awareness. This training should include: what causes mold to grow, what actions they should take if they observe mold growth in the facility, safety precautions to take when dealing with mold, and mold prevention strategies.
- Create an inspection method that incorporates a regular HVAC maintenance plan after the mold is gone to prevent future mold issues.
If you already have a mold problem, cleaning up the surface or painting over it will not fix the issue. Nor will it prevent the mold from continuing to grow and cause more issues.
The cause of the mold growth must be found and addressed.
In a commercial building, it is always best to consult a licensed mold removal company that is certified and has the proper insurance coverages to remediate any mold-related issues.
Remember, regular maintenance, frequent inspections, and well-maintained commercial HVAC systems can go a long way toward preventing mold growth that can negatively impact your business.