This article was posted on Thursday, May 01, 2014

Unfortunately, thePacific Northwestis a great environment ripe with all the components necessary to allow mold growth to be a very common problem – lots of mold spores, moisture, correct temperature range and natural nutrients.

Currently, there are approximately 100,000 plus known types of mold spores present in the environment.  While only a small percentage of those spores are toxic, they can cause health issues for seniors, infants and those with asthma or allergy issues.

If water damage occurs, poor mitigation or repair response can result in structures not being completely dried or being wet over an extended period of time.  Any moisture can be a contributing factor to mold growth.  And with the right conditions present, an overabundance of moisture in a home or business can lead to potential mold hazards for your tenants.

Common sources for excess moisture are faulty roofing, seepage from ground water, slow leaking appliances or fixtures and non-exhausted moisture from showers or cooking.  The amount of moisture that the air in a home can hold depends on the temperature of the air.  Colder air will tend to hold more moisture than a warmer more temperate environment.

So, what are some good steps to take to help control the moisture in your property?  Some can be accomplished by committing to performing regular maintenance inspections on your property.  And some can be accomplished by working with your tenants to help change lifestyle behaviors.  Here are some simple suggestions.

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  • Fix leaks and ground water seepage.  If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing.  The ground should slope away from the house.  Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house.
  • Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground.  Be sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside – not into the attic.  Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.  Regularly check exhaust hose connections.
  • Turn off certain appliances such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners when hot and humid conditions exist to help reduce moisture in the air.
  • Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses.  Use insulation or storm windows.  Open doors between rooms to increase circulation.  Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation.  Keep the average temperature range above 60 degrees F.
  • Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors.  Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow.  Use area rugs which can be taken up and washed often.  If carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring to prevent a moisture problem.

If a suspicious visible growth is found, it’s best to consult a remediation professional.  These professionals use procedures and have access to products that are proven to kill existing mold spores and help restore a healthy environment to the structure.  Most importantly, these procedures are written to ensure that removing the mold without contamination to people or non-contaminated areas is the primary goal.

Ernie Dittmann is sales and marketing manager of ServiceMaster of Tacoma.  Reprinted with permission of the Rental Housing Association UPDATE.

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