Homes and apartments are designed to house a certain number of occupants. Over time these occupants place an ever-increasing moisture burden on the dwelling that if not managed properly will cause mold to grow and degrade Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Here are some tips for tenants and landlords that might help.
Common Moisture Sources
Some common living activity moisture sources often overlooked that can trigger mold growth:
- Occupant Respiration – Every day breathing / maybe too many folks living in the space
- Improper Air Conditioning – Can get hot & humid in summer
- Excessive Cooking & Bathing – Be sure to have adequate exhaust
- Washing & Drying Clothes – Some folks hand wash and dry clothes inside the home
- Plants, Pets, and Aquariums – Require lots of water and put out lots of humidity
- Painting, Wall Paper, Sheetrock – As it dries, can put out a lot of moisture
- Intermittent Leaks and Spills – Not corrected or cleaned up quickly
- Humidifiers – DYK, There are seasonal settings on these devices?
Don’t Panic Over Spotty Mold Growth (SMG)
The pattern and types of molds encountered in rental dwellings is often a result of a variety of factors and show up as “Spotty Mold Growth” (SMG). There’s no need to panic as mold is a natural part of our environment, but it should be addressed asap before it gets worse.
What Causes Spotty Mold Growth
When we start to see SMG you’ve hit the “Tipping Point” for conditions supportive of mold growth. An imbalance in temperature, pressure, humidity, mechanical ventilation or air-flow cam contributes to mold growth. Molds are well adapted to exploit the resulting micro-climates and grow beyond Normal Fungal Ecology (NFE). Fix the imbalance and the molds stop growing, but the mold should still be cleaned up.
Mold Management Recommendations (Tenant)
Tenants are more than capable of addressing SMG. In fact, the EPA’s Mold Cleanup guidelines state that healthy individuals can handle the job if the area is less than 10 square feet and growth is not associated with a lot of water damage. Here are some suggestions to share with your tenants.
- Open Windows – Use exhaust fans or open windows in Kitchen & Bathroom to vent spaces.
- Contents – Reduce closet & cabinet contents to improve air-flow.
- Mold Cleanup – Healthy tenants can clean mold as part of normal housekeeping using OTC biocides.
- Notify Landlord – Let your landlord know if SMG occurs and if it keeps returning after you clean it.
Mold Management Recommendations (Landlord)
It has been GWE’s experience with rental units that it can be difficult to ensure tenants are managing moisture appropriately where the following might be helpful:
- Exhaust Fan – Install in bathroom & kitchen on auto switches that vent to the exterior (on auto-timer is best)
- Closets – Install door vents or change solid door to slotted / louvered door.
- Ventilator – Monitors & manages moisture within the dwelling and improves IAQ. (Consider installing them)
- Investigation – Have a professional conduct annual Moisture, Odor and Mold (MOM) inspections.
- Mold Growth – Use a certified firm to cleanse visible growth if the tenant can’t (and get clearance certification for your files).
- Education – Provide tenants with some of the EPA’s mold information below as part of their renter’s paperwork.
Reliable Mold Information
Here are some mold management tips for tenants and landlords from the EPA: