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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Riverside Business- 5 Steps to Minimize Mold Risk During and After a Prolonged Shutdown

10/12/2020 (Permalink)

Mold will grow on building materials where there is moisture, produced from leaks or condensation from roofs, windows, or pipes, or from a flood.

Mold can grow on a variety of surfaces, such as ceiling tiles, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, and fabric. People with asthma and other respiratory conditions and those with mold allergy or weakened immune systems should avoid buildings suspected or confirmed to have mold contamination. Ensure that your building does not have mold after a prolonged shutdown to maintain a safe working environment for returning occupants.  Here are 5 steps from CDC.gov:

5 steps to minimize mold risk during and after a prolonged shutdown

  1. Maintain indoor humidity as low as possible, not exceeding 50%, as measured with a humidity meter. Building managers may consider continuous monitoring of indoor humidity using a digital hygrometer, ideally more than once daily, to minimize the need to access the building.
  2.  After a prolonged shutdown and before occupants return, buildings should be assessed for mold and excess moisture.
    1. Building inspections by trained industrial hygienists can recognize dampness or mold by sight or odor, without the need for sampling and laboratory analysis. NIOSH offers tools and instructions to assess dampness and mold in schools and general buildings. These tools can be used by building maintenance staff as well as industrial hygienists.
    2. If dampness or mold is detected, address the source of water entry first. Clean-up and remediation should then be conducted before the building is reoccupied. Plan the remediation before beginning work. Resources for remediation of buildings and homes with mold are provided by NIOSH, the, the EPA, and CDC .
  3.  After an assessment has confirmed that mold and moisture are not detected (Step 2a), OR after remediation has been completed (Step 2b), a building HVAC system that has not been active during a prolonged shutdown should be operated for at least 48 to 72 hours (known as a “flush out” period) before occupants return.
    1. During this period, open outdoor air dampers to the maximum setting that still allows desired indoor air temperatures.
    2. If an odor is detected that suggests mold growth (such as a musty smell) after the “flush out” period, look for mold that may not have been identified earlier. If mold is found, conduct remediation as described in Step 2b.
    3. Continue the “flush out” process until no odors are apparent.
    4. The condition of HVAC filters used during the “flush out” period should be carefully assessed prior to building occupancy and replaced with new or clean filters as necessary.
  4.  After a building is reopened and occupied, routine (e.g., weekly) checks of the HVAC system are recommended to ensure operating efficiency.
    1. During HVAC checks, inspect and replace filters as indicated or needed.
    2. The frequency of HVAC system checks can be gradually reduced (e.g., monthly, quarterly), depending on the operational and maintenance specifications for the HVAC system.
    3. Maintain indoor temperature and relative humidity within ranges recommended.
  5.  If no routine HVAC operation and maintenance program is in place for the building, one should be developed and implemented. At a minimum, consider including the following:
    1. Inspection and maintenance of HVAC components
    2. Calibration of HVAC system controls
    3. HVAC testing and balancing

Give SERVPRO of West Riverside City a call to inspect your facility if you smell mildew or see signs of mold growth.  

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