Welcome to the Indoor Environmental Quality podcast. Thank you for joining us for this episode.
In today's episode we're going to talk about ordinary mold vs. extraordinary mold. So, first let’s define ordinary mold. Ordinary mold is the kind you might see any time at home or at work.
We talk to a lot of people about mold. Surprisingly, we still hear “I’ve never seen mold.” But you probably have. Most everyone has seen moldy bread or other food that’s sat out too long. Or maybe crud on your HVAC grille or if you have mold around your freezer door gasket.
Another good example is if you leave used grounds in your coffee maker filter for a couple of days. Often that’ll start to grow mold.
Whatever the type of mold you find, mold is a moisture problem. If you can manage or stop the moisture, you’re well on your way to preventing a mold problem.
Ordinary mold is also the easiest kind of mold to get rid of - wipe off the surface or throw out the moldy food and you’re done. Think about it, if you keep food from sitting out too long, or store it differently, you’re not going to grow mold.
If you keep dust and debris from accumulating on HVAC grilles and around your freezer gasket, you won’t grow mold.
So what is extraordinary mold? That’s the kind of mold growth you shouldn’t have at home or in or buildings.
Good examples are suspended ceiling tiles that get wet because of roof leaks or from ductwork condensation. I was in a grocery store the other day, and I was able to look at the ceiling and determine the exact ductwork path because of the mold growth pattern across the suspended ceiling.
Often the fix for this is to remove and replace the ceiling tile, or switch ceiling tile color. This may work for a while, but the building owner will end up changing the tile again, or the new tile color will show different color mold. If the white ceiling tile shows brown or black staining, switching to brown or black ceiling tile won’t permanently hide the stains or mold growth.
But changing ceiling tiles is faster, easier, and cheaper than fixing the real problem. Fixing roof leaks or ductwork condensation is not fast, easy, and cheap. Having said that, the long term cost and time required of repeating the quick fix could take longer and cost more money.
Or building owners will change ceiling tiles, have a mold remediation contractor clean the area, do follow up mold air sampling, only to repeat the whole experience later because they didn't correct the overall moisture problem.
Here's some quick advice:
Do your best to prevent ordinary mold - often times a good custodial or housekeeping staff can prevent ordinary mold problems from getting out of hand. Routine cleaning is often all it takes.
Assuming we're talking about a school, office, hotel, or other large building, educate your staff and building occupants. It often helps to explain that mold is everywhere, all the time, and yes, if left unchecked, mold can be a problem. Have an honest conversation about any concerns they have - this is better than having a group of employees or building occupants becoming mold experts through a Google search.
If you have extraordinary mold, try your best to find out what's causing the moisture problem. Remember - the mold is a symptom, not the overall problem. If you need help finding the cause and determining the fix, get help from a firm experienced in mold and moisture problems, with emphasis on preventing mold problems from recurring.
Mold projects aren't rocket science, but sometimes I think people over complicate things because they focus on the mold and not on the water problem.
Remember – if you only clean up the mold and don’t stop the water problem, the mold remediation you do now is only a dress rehearsal for the next time you’ll have to do it.
Stop the water, and you'll stop the mold.
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You can find me, Chris White, on Twitter and Instagram: @chriswhitepe