Mold can be a tricky and even dangerous issue to deal with, especially if it’s growing in your commercial building. Mold is naturally occurring fungi that grow and feeds on moisture — and its microbial growth can give off unpleasant smells even when it can’t be detected by the naked eye.
So, how does mold end up in commercial buildings? As we said, it feeds on moisture. Water damage or even moisture in ventilation systems can feed mold growth and cause significant problems with air quality.
What Commercial Buildings are Most Susceptible to Mold
Several factors, environments, and building components impact the susceptibility and speed in which mold grows. There are three aspects of a property that could indicate a high chance of mold growth.
• Building Age
• Ventilation Systems
• Building Materials
While these three indicators don’t mean that mold is an inevitability — they do influence the severity and likelihood of mold.
Older buildings are indeed more likely to have mold — but it’s not always a guarantee. Aging buildings have simply been around longer and therefore have been defending against the elements for extended periods of time. There are also time periods where certain building practices made ventilation and air circulation a mess.
Commercial buildings built during the 70s are notorious for poor ventilation practices — so mold in these properties is not uncommon.
No matter how old a building is, poor ventilation can lead to condensation. As we’ve mentioned, moisture is what mold feeds off of, and poor air circulation equates to stagnant air and condensation buildup — which in turn leads to mold.
The final indicator that a building may be susceptible to mold growth is right in front of you — the building materials. Certain walls provide ideal food for mold, while others are far less likely to trap moisture. So, what are these building materials that hold water more than others?
• Paper-faced drywall is a popular choice for many homes and commercial buildings, and for a good reason. It doesn’t hold hardly any moisture and isn’t very susceptible to mold growth.
• Solid lumber is pretty common in older buildings. It’s made from a part of the tree called heartwood and does a good job of holding moisture before releasing condensation.
• Sheathing plywood comes from combining strips of sapwood. Compared to solid lumber, it doesn’t do nearly as well at combatting mold growth.
• Particleboard & MDF are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fighting off mold growth. Fungi love to grow in the medium-density boards and underlayment.
• Brick is probably the best building material for preventing mold growth, but only if it’s done correctly. How brick is laid ultimately determines if wood framing gets water damage.
How to Prevent Mold in Commercial Buildings
Mold exposure can cause various health concerns and allergic reactions — and prolonged mold exposure can lead to severe irritations and even chronic lung illnesses and infections. One of the best ways to protect your commercial building from mold growth is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place.
Routine inspections and remaining vigilant around wet and dark areas is a great first start. High moisture areas or damp surfaces are a start. Be on the lookout for musty smells or dark spots/fuzzy surfaces. Because mold feeds and grows, taking care of the problem early on can prevent it from spiraling out of control.
Here are some additional helpful tips for preventing mold growth in your commercial building.
• Repair any areas that may lead to leaks. Unsealed or cracked windows, foundational damage, and even leaky roofs can snowball into a serious mold problem. Make building repairs straightaway to prevent problem areas from becoming hazardous.
• Clean and maintain HVAC systems. Ventilation can be a mold’s highway, and spores may end up traveling throughout the building, growing and spreading out of control. Preventing moisture and condensation buildup by servicing HVAC systems is a great way to prevent unwanted mold growth.
• Install dehumidifiers to prevent moisture growth from humidity. Depending on where your commercial building is, you may deal with damp or humid weather conditions regularly. If that’s the case, installing dehumidifiers in dark and damp areas such as attics or basements can be beneficial.
• Perhaps the best way to prevent mold growth is by hiring a trained professional with mold certification under their belt. Depending on the severity of the mold issue or how you want to handle it, experienced contractors can complete comprehensive mold inspections and even help with removal.
• Professional removal involves either an abatement or remediation process. If you’re interested in learning more about how these two options operate, you can read more about it in our article: Abatement vs. Remediation. But for now, we’ll go over some of the basics.
Proper Methods for Mold Removal in Commercial Buildings
While some homeowners may try DIY mold removal, we certainly wouldn’t recommend this for commercial buildings. Mold not only has much more room to grow in commercial properties, but property owners also have an obligation to the tenants and guests to provide safe air quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements strict guidelines that ensure human health. Therefore, it’s up to building owners to remain compliant with regulations to keep everyone safe.
While mold may be difficult to find if it’s hiding in hard to reach or view areas, once it’s detected, it needs to be taken care of immediately.
The two main practices for getting rid of mold are abatement and remediation. Both of these processes need to be completed by a trained professional contractor.
This process refers to only the removal of mold from a commercial building. During the mold abatement process, a certified mold inspector will locate problem areas and determine how far the contamination problem has spread.
Certain areas may be sealed off, and protective equipment will be worn to keep workers safe. It’s important that the inspection process is thorough to prevent the problem from returning. Conducting your own routine inspections can help give professionals an idea of where to start, but the problem may be in other areas of the building as well.
Mold remediation involves abatement (removal), but it also includes preventative measures. Trained abatement professionals will work diligently to remove mold and remediation experts create plans to eliminate the source and identify any underlying sources that may cause it to return.
This is typically the best process for taking care of mold because it helps a property owner recognize any areas that may require renovations to prevent mold growth.
Mold Contractors and Professionals
As mentioned, commercial buildings require extreme attention to abatement and remediation practices, so trained professionals are needed to take care of mold problems.
We offer a wide selection of training programs and certifications required by the EPA for workers that operate near or with mold.