When you think of mold, do you imagine a relentless, living growth set on taking over multiple apartment units and draining your community’s finances?
Search the internet for answers to what exactly mold is, how it affects one’s health and budget and what it takes to get rid of the dreaded nuisance and it is easy to get lost in a sear of confusion and fear.
But industry experts tell us that there’s no need to worry. There are steps you can take to prevent the mold monster from knocking on an apartment door. Even if mold does happen, there are ways to combat it before it becomes a disaster.
What Exactly is Mold?
“Mold is a living organism that belongs to the kingdom Fungi,” says Justin Mainit, who was a business development representative with Baxter Restoration for two years and is currently with Arbor Contract Carpet. “Mold must gain nutrients from other organic substances by causing them to deteriorate.”
As scary as that sounds, keep in mind that mold is “natural and is a very important part of our ecosystem. Although mold is a natural part of outside life, when it becomes part of inside life, it can have harmful effects on a resident’s home and health.
What are Health Effects if Untreated?
Because mold produces allergens and irritants, the most common symptoms are watery eyes, headache, sneezing and itching skin. These symptoms can be everyday annoyances, so it may be hard to realize there is a mold problem if it isn’t in a highly visible are of the home. Some more severe symptoms include fatigue, nosebleeds, ear paint, sinus infections, joint pain and nausea, although these reactions can sometimes be delayed and are commonly not attributed to the mold problem.
How Can Mold be Prevented?
Here are some tips:
Service heating/ventilation systems often and keep temperatures in an average range
Keep humidity between 30 and 50 percent
Educate residents to keep areas prone to repeated water use clean and dry – showers, tubs, sinks, windows that are prone to condensation, humidifiers, etc.
What do Residents/Property Managers Most Need to Know?
Mold does not go away by wiping with bleach. Err on the side of caution and always consult a professional. Mold remediation can be costly, but lawsuits from sick tenants and repairs to moldy structures are more so. When in doubt, have an air quality test performed.
The main cause of mold growth is unnoticed or unresolved water issues, Mainit says. Once you have identified an issue, respond immediately and effectively. Always us an IICRC certified company to dry out your units after a water issue. Not everyone who has blowers and dehumidifiers knows how to properly use hem.
What is the Typical Step-by-Step
Process to Remove it?
First, determine the extent of the problem. Mold remediation experts know what to look for. It’s also important to stop and fix the water or moisture issue.
Then comes the remediation – remove damaged materials and thoroughly clean the contaminated area making sure to verify cleanliness by washing and completely drying the area.
Lastly, furniture and affected items are repaired or replaced once remediation is complete.
How Much Does Treatment Typically Cost?
Depending on the level of contamination, remediation can cost anywhere from $2 to $6 per square foot, not including post-remediation repairs. Mainit adds that price can be affected by cause, mold species and the materials affected.
If you want to keep the mold monster from moving into your community, enlist residents to help keep water-prone areas as dry as possible and report and water issues immediately.
If you do find yourself facing a mold issue, consult a professional right away to minimize the problem and keep remediation costs as low as possible. That way, you can drag the mold monster into the daylight and kick him to the curb.
Reprinted with permission of Multifamily Florida.