Mold Remediation In Schools And Commercial Buildings
Mold doesn't just grow on the food left in the breakroom refrigerator too long. A damp environment leads to mold growth if not addressed quickly. Pipe leaks, unvented shower areas, and other moisture sources inside the building or stormwater leaking in are common culprits for indoor humidity.
Even excessive moisture in the air can lead to mold problems if you don't control it with air conditioning. It can grow on most organic surfaces where moisture and oxygen are available.
Besides causing significant disruptions to your business or school, mold can pose serious health concerns for people. SERVPRO is equipped to resolve all kinds of mold problems in commercial buildings and schools.
What Is Mold?
Mold (sometimes called mildew) can be found indoors and outdoors, in all climates, and at any time throughout the year. It is a fungus that forms and grows on any type of damp or decaying organic matter. There are many different species of mold that come in different colors.
Mold survives by relying on organic matter for nutrition. Outdoors, this includes fallen leaves and decaying plants. Indoors, mold looks for carbon sources for food, like drywall and other building materials.
The most common cause for mold growing indoors is excess moisture. Office buildings and schools usually have moderate temperatures, nutrition sources, and dark, damp areas that are ideal for mold to grow.
Mold grows by releasing microscopic spores into the air. The spores float until they land and settle in a moist area that has a source for nutrients. Once the spores find those places, they form new mold colonies. The heating and air conditioning systems inside commercial buildings and schools may help spores spread quickly. The ducts themselves can even be ideal areas for mold to grow.
What Is "Mold Remediation"?
SERVPRO technicians understand the science behind how mold grows and spreads. Mold remediation focuses primarily on getting (or keeping) mold levels back to the healthy, naturally occurring levels.
Every situation of mold damage is unique and requires a custom solution. The general SERVPRO mold remediation process is as follows:
Inspection and damage assessment: A team of SERVPRO agents inspects the building for mold damage using a variety of technologies to detect unhealthy levels of mold and hidden water sources.
Containment: SERVPRO agents use a multi-pronged process to contain and prevent the spread of mold. Depending on the situation, this step may involve advanced containment procedures like negative air chambers to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process. All the heating and cooling systems are usually turned off during the containment process to prevent mold spores from spreading through the air ducts.
Filtration: Cleaning the air of excess mold spores is an essential part of the remediation process. SERVPRO uses specialized filtration equipment to trap microscopic mold spores in the air. "Air scrubbers" and HEPA vacuums prevent mold from spreading and growing.
Removing the mold and invested materials: The mold remediation process depends mainly on how much and what types of molds are growing, and the types of surfaces on which the mold grows. SERVPRO technicians remove all the mold-infested materials like carpeting and drywall from the building. Next, the agents use antimicrobial and antifungal treatments to kill existing mold colonies and prevent new colonies from growing.
Cleaning Belongings: Mold can also grow on furniture, curtains, clothing, decorative items, and other belongings. SERVPRO professionals use a variety of techniques and chemicals to clean and sanitize the affected belongings. This also helps remove the musty, moldy smells from the building and items.
Restoration: Depending on the extent of the mold damage, SERVPRO technicians might need to remove drywall, carpeting, and even subfloors to make sure the mold colonies are eradicated. Once they clean all the mold, the technicians will make any repairs necessary to return the building to its original condition.
How To Prevent Mold In Commercial Buildings And Schools
Because mold is present almost everywhere (both indoors and outdoors), it is impossible to remove all mold. However, it is possible (and essential) to prevent mold from growing beyond healthy levels and spreading inside the building.
It is much easier and cost-effective to eliminate the potential causes for mold growth than to wait until you have a mold problem. Here are some easy ways to prevent mold problems before they start:
Make repairs: Leaky roofs, poorly sealed windows and door frames, broken pipes, and cracked foundations are common problems that can allow mold to grow. Stay on top of building maintenance and repairs so you can catch water damage before the moisture leads to a moldy disaster.
Clean the ducts: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can quickly spread mold spores around the building. Reduce the spread of mold spores by having the air ducts regularly cleaned and maintained. This will improve the overall air quality in the school or offices, which will have a positive impact on peoples' health.
Moisture control: In Tennessee, humidity is often high. Damp air makes it easy for mold to grow. Consider installing dehumidifiers around the building, or at least in basements, attics, and other areas prone to moisture and mold. Keep the indoor humidity below 45% to prevent mold from growing quickly.
Make sure shower areas in the locker rooms have proper vents to move moist air outside and install exhaust fans in the cafeteria and food services areas. Make sure the exhaust fans run whenever you are cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
Inspect regularly: Mold can thrive places you may never think to look. Create a routine inspection plan to look for mold, high moisture areas, damp surfaces, stains on the walls or carpeting, and musty smells. These are the early signs of a mold issue that, if addressed early, can be cheaper and easier to resolve.
Bathrooms, locker rooms, and kitchens have a lot of places where mold grows easily. Make sure to inspect bathrooms for water stains, standing water, and leaking pipes. Don't allow water to stand in the refrigerator and air conditioning drip pans. If a lunchroom or break room has a water dispenser, inspect the area around it to catch leaks and spills early.
Clean the floors and carpets: Don't install carpet in areas where moisture might be a constant concern, like around drinking fountains or classroom sinks. Have the floors and carpets professionally cleaned regularly to remove spots, stains, and dirt build-up. This will prolong the life of the flooring and prevent mold spores from building up. However, make sure the flooring dries quickly to prevent mold from growing.
Do you have a SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile for your school or business? Pre-planning for all sorts of disasters will help you recover and return to normal quickly. Whether it's mold remediation, water damage, or a host of other potential disasters, SERVPRO are experts at cleaning and restoration.