Common Moisture Sources Found in Schools
Moisture problems in school buildings can be caused by a variety of conditions, including roof and plumbing leaks, condensation, and excess humidity. Some moisture problems in schools have been linked to changes in building construction practices during the past twenty to thirty years. These changes have resulted in more tightly sealed buildings that may not allow moisture to escape easily. Moisture problems in schools are also associated with delayed maintenance or insufficient maintenance, due to budget and other constraints. Temporary structures in schools, such as trailers and portable classrooms, have frequently been associated with moisture and mold problems.
Carpet use in schools provides a decrease in noise, falls, and injuries. Mold problems can be encountered with carpet and many other materials if the school has any type of water intrusion or moisture problem, such as a leaky roof. If carpeting remains damp, it can become a primary source for microbial growth, which frequently results in adverse health effects. Carpet and other furnishings that become significantly water damaged should be removed and discarded or steam cleaned and thoroughly dried before reinstallation.
Carpet also acts as a reservoir for dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, pesticides and other materials which may originate indoors or be brought into the indoor environment from outside. If kept very clean from the time it is installed, carpet can trap a significant amount of particles, which can be removed through regular and effective vacuuming. However, inadequate maintenance can allow large quantities of dust and debris to build up in carpet. Some studies indicate that poorly maintained carpet can release significant quantities of particles into the air during the course of daily activity. In addition, young children may play on carpet where they may be more likely to come into contact with contaminants that have not been properly removed through regular and effective vacuuming.
Suggestions for Reducing Mold Growth in Schools
- Reduce indoor humidity by:
- Venting gym showers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
- Controlling humidity levels and dampness by using air conditioners and de-humidifiers.
- Providing adequate ventilation to maintain indoor humidity levels between 30-60%.
- Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning in food service areas.
- Inspect the building for signs of mold, moisture, leaks, or spills:
- Check for moldy odors.
- Look for water stains or discoloration on the ceiling, walls, floors, and window sills.
- Look around and under sinks for standing water, water stains, or mold.
- Inspect bathrooms for standing water, water stains, or mold.
- Do not let water stand in air conditioning or refrigerator drip pans.
- Respond promptly when you see signs of moisture and/or mold, or when leaks or spills occur:
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours of occurrence to prevent mold growth.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely.
- Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Check the mechanical room and roof for unsanitary conditions, leaks, or spills.
- Prevent moisture condensation:
- Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- Floor and carpet cleaning:
- Remove spots and stains immediately, using the flooring manufacturer’s recommended techniques.
- Use care to prevent excess moisture or cleaning residue accumulation and ensure that cleaned areas are dried quickly.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
We can handle your school’s mold remediation project expertly. Moreover, if you are interested in a thorough preventative assessment to protect your school from the detrimental effects of mold, give us a call.