Many problems that impact the condition of your facility can also have a health or safety impact for occupants or visitors of that facility, from employees to customers to residents. Health and safety measures in a facility are a heavy responsibility for any facility manager and mold exposure is one such dangerous problem. Exposure to mold brings serious health risks including asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Therefore, owners and managers of facilities should be aware of the signs that mold may have invaded the premises, beginning, of course, with the understanding that mold growth becomes highly probable in damp conditions. Mold can be effectively addressed and eradicated with the assistance of remediation professionals, but it’s still important to learn to recognize the signs of mold as early as possible to limit its potential to spread and become a health hazard.
Below are the five most common signs that you may have a mold problem in your facility.
Unpleasant or Unusual Smell
If your facility is impacted by mold, your nose may be the first to alert you to the presence of a problem. There may be a musty smell throughout the building or affected area. This smell is often present in the initial stage of a mold invasion, often before there are any visible signs of an issue. At this stage, you won’t be able to see it, but will definitely smell it. The scent is often described as earthy, damp or tangy, like wet socks or rotting wood. Depending on the type and severity of the mold blooms, the smell may be mild enough to be just musty or strong enough to be considered downright pungent. If something does not smell right in your facility or in a particular area, it is wise to consider the possibility of mold and to look for other symptoms that typically accompany mold growth.
Musty odors are usually present in areas where there is moisture, which implies that mold may be coming from walls or ceilings exposed to water. The next step in inspecting your facility should be looking for other signs of water damage or intrusion.
Visible Signs of Mold
Mold can appear different ways depending on the type or the stage of growth. Mold can be chalky white thread-like streaks, clusters of black spots and splotches, or shades of gray or green. If the walls and ceilings of your facility are somewhat discolored, especially in damp or moist places, then you might be affected by mold. It can be difficult to understand whether discoloration of the walls is from mold exposure or another cause. Once you have a suspicion that you might be dealing with a mold problem or are seeing any of the five most common signs (smell, appearance, water intrusion, excessive humidity or health issues reported by occupants) it’s time to consult experts in mold identification, testing and remediation.
Keep an eye out for standing water within your facility, especially in places such as bathrooms or low areas, including basements. Any amount of water left standing can increase the chances of mold growth. If you come across standing water, or something that might be a water stain, perhaps in an area where walls meet the ceiling – a leaking roof may often be a source of water damage. Water damage may be present near vents, pipes or ducts, around HVAC equipment or windows. If you see signs of water damage or intrusion, anywhere in your facility, you should not hesitate to contact an expert to evaluate and counteract the problem.
Excessive Humidity or Condensation
Moisture is also caused by excessive humidity which can turn your facility into a mold-growth factory. Carefully monitor the humidity levels in your facility: once they reach 60% or above, the chances of mold increase drastically. Moisture often accumulates in areas that are not as obvious as water damage from leaks. It may flourish under wallpaper, between ceiling tiles and roofing material, on the back side of drywall or under carpet and flooring. If you know that humidity and condensation are a problem in your facility and you are also experiencing any of the other common signs of mold included in this article, it’s probably time to consult an expert.
Mold can be the cause of many health issues from minor issues such as congestion and coughing to more serious reactions for those with allergies or immune issues. Exposure to mold can lead to wheezing, asthma, lung infections, and pneumonitis. If occupants of your facility are experiencing symptoms that may indicate the presence of mold, you have an obligation as a facility manager to investigate. A qualified mold remediation specialist is best suited to help identify the presence of mold, particularly when there are no visible signs but other indicators including smell or dampness are present.
If your facility is adjacent to another business or is located within a space where mold is an issue, it’s also possible that you may have mold. This is another circumstance in which, despite visible signs, facility managers should be concerned about or suspect mold in their own facility.
How can Lakeside help?
Lakeside Project Solutions has years of experience managing mold remediation and water damage projects for facilities. As a facility manager, you have an obligation to act quickly if you’ve discovered or suspect mold in your facility. Partnering with Lakeside means our project managers are there to handle every aspect of a mold remediation project, from testing when physical signs of mold are inconclusive, to repairing the causes of mold, isolating the contaminated areas, removing contaminated materials, cleaning, and repair. Lakeside’s unique KPIs and predictive metrics allow Lakeside staff to mitigate adverse impact and incurred costs by reducing time to remediation.