Mold can be dangerous and difficult to clean up. Because of this, it is a topic that justifiably frightens property owners and managers. When you try to clean up a mold situation on your own, you might be taking on unnecessary risk – and often without even being able to successfully treat the problem.
If you manage a high-rise commercial or residential property, ongoing or sudden mold can be a major issue. In these large structures, there are so many places where mold can grow, and almost as many situations that can cause mold growth. In order to successfully manage mold at your sites, it’s important to know what causes it, and whether you should try to tackle the clean-up yourself or get professional help.
What causes mold to grow in high-rise buildings?
In many ways, high-rise buildings have the same risk factors for mold as any other property. Mold grows when there is an ideal combination of temperature, water, oxygen, and food. Mold can enter a building through doorways, windows, vents, and HVAC systems, as well as attaching itself to clothing, shoes, and pets. Once these spores are inside, they can grow. Mold is not uncommon in buildings, but once there is enough to be smelled or seen, you have a problem that needs to be addressed.
Mold growth occurs when mold spores can establish themselves in moist areas, such as roofs, pipes, walls, potted plants, and anywhere that has been flooded. It can happen both indoors and outdoors, but building managers obviously have to be more proactive when it comes to indoor mold.
High-rise buildings have lots of opportunities for moist, mold-growing situations to go unnoticed. Whether the moisture source is a plumbing leak or a weather disaster like a flood,If you have any location in your building where you have wet paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, or wood products, mold can be growing there. Dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery are additional breeding grounds for mold.
Think about how many nooks, crannies, crawlspaces, ventilation shafts, storage rooms, plumbing systems, pipes, and construction areas are in the building you manage. That can help anyone understand why high-rise buildings are at special risk for mold growth: There are just so many places, many seldom seen, where it can develop.
Can you clean up the mold in your building yourself?
Once you discover a mold issue, you need to address it quickly. Resourceful building managers may ask: Can I clean it up myself? Won’t I save money if I just do the work on my own or have my maintenance crew treat the mold and get everything cleaned up?
It’s true that some mold can be cleaned up in a “DIY” manner. If you open a forgotten fridge and find that someone neglected to clean it out before unplugging it, you can probably clean up that well-contained mold on your own with store-bought chemicals and the right PPE (personal protective equipment). A little bit of mold beneath a pipe that gathered condensation is another example of mold you can probably clean yourself.
When cleaning up mold yourself, remember that small areas are usually easier to clean up than larger ones. Or, if you are removing something from the building that is moldy, and you can throw away the entire moldy item to replace it, that is another time when DIY can work. For example, if you are getting rid of moldy window treatments, rather than trying to sterilize and clean them, go ahead and do that yourself.
To clean up any form of mold yourself, be sure to take the following steps:
1. Correctly identify the type of mold.
There are different types of mold to be aware of. They require different strategies for complete removal. That may include choosing the right chemicals, treating the right number of times, eliminating certain environmental concerns, and more. If you are not confident about the type of mold you are dealing with, be sure to seek professional guidance.
One way to determine what kind of mold you have is to use bleach. Drop just a few drops of household bleach onto the visible mold and see what happens. If the drops make the mold disappear, that is likely mildew, which is relatively easy to eliminate. However, if the mold doesn’t disappear with bleach application, that is likely dirt mold.
2. Use proper PPE.
PPE for mold clean-up generally involves rubber gloves, a respirator mask, and possibly protective clothing. You want to avoid breathing in or touching mold because exposure can cause many health problems.
3. Don’t assume that one treatment will take care of the problem.
Just because it looks like you’ve cleaned up the mold, that doesn’t mean that you’ve gotten the job done. Mold spores can stick around despite one or even a few DIY treatments. If you misidentified the mold, bought the wrong cleaning solution, or didn’t clean thoroughly enough, you’re likely to see a return of the mold before long.
Do you need to bring in professional help?
If you are looking at that list of steps and feeling a little intimidated, you are not alone. Eliminating a mold growth problem is not easy, and it’s not for the inexperienced. In addition, mold-clean up beyond a few specific, removable items or a small area typically requires professional help.
Mold remediation in large buildings requires a quick response from an experienced team who has the scale and knowledge to handle these types of properties. Anytime you have a mold growth issue that meets the following criteria, it’s time to seek professional services:
- Mold in a large area
- Mold that is affecting people’s health
- Mold smell coming from an unidentifiable source
- Mold that comes back after you clean it
- Mold that your maintenance crew can’t manage on their own
- Mold that is a result of an ongoing building issue, such as flooding or leaking
- Mold that appears after a disaster, such as a flood, fire, plumbing problem, or storm
While the mold that grows in a high-rise may be the same mold that grows in any other building, taking care of high-rise mold is a different process. When there are so many areas for mold to grow, and so many people who use these spaces every day, it is vital to remediate any mold and keep any future issue under control.
As a commercial property owner or manager, do you have the contacts you need to get help with mold remediation? The longer you have an uncontrolled mold growth issue, the longer your residents, tenants, investors, and business are in danger.
First Onsite Is Your Partner in Mold Remediation
Our team at First Onsite has the industry knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to respond to high-rise mold growth, in both residential and commercial buildings. No matter what, First Onsite is here to help. We are on-call and ready to deploy, 24/7.
First Onsite is the only partner you’ll ever need when it comes to mold remediation. You don’t have to wait to talk with us, either. Whether you need help right now or you want to get more information about how to make sure your building is safe and your residents are happy and healthy, we’re here! Contact First Onsite today to schedule a consultation.