Keeping Universities Mold-Free

Keeping Universities Mold-Free

Mold can be a problem in any building, but at a university, it can be particularly serious. However, testing buildings for mold, particularly on a large busy campus, can be time-consuming, expensive, and unreliable. Since the best defense against a mold problem is prevention, or at least early diagnosis, a comprehensive maintenance and remediation plan is a must to keep students safe, and buildings operational.

The number one cause of mold is dampness, so it is paramount to keep potentially moldy spaces dry. If there is a leak or seasonal dampness, this must be addressed as soon as possible, since mold can cause serious health issues, or make certain pre-existing health conditions worse. Since mold spores are most likely to be inhaled, the potential health issues include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. This makes preventing mold an important consideration for schools and universities, particularly in dorm buildings.

Mold is a common occurrence and can grow anywhere that moisture and oxygen are found. This makes it virtually impossible to eliminate all the mold spores in an indoor environment. Inside, mold can lie dormant in dusty areas only to be disturbed by movement, even something like routine vacuuming or cleaning. Because of this resilience, controlling indoor moisture and ventilation is the most effective way to prevent or remediate mold growth.

Schools and universities are particularly at risk due to the age and construction of many campus buildings. Mold is more than happy to grow on wood, paper, old cardboard, gypsum (drywall), old carpeting, and even dust. Many old schools and university buildings haven’t always had the best upkeep and as these old building materials break down, they become the perfect place for mold to grow.

But mold also needs moisture and oxygen. Many of these older buildings have aging plumbing and HVAC systems that leak water or coolant, creating the perfect damp environment. Buildings built between the 1970s and 1990s also tend to feature better sealing than buildings that came before but may lack adequate ventilation leading to moisture buildup. Moisture can also come from leaky roofs, gutters, and groundwater that collects under older buildings.

Once the mold has been detected it must be addressed immediately, both to prevent possible health issues and to keep it from spreading. The moldy space must be dried and controlled with the proper commercial equipment, including desiccant dehumidifiers. Depending on the composition of the materials the mold has grown on, they must be remediated or removed and replaced. Once space has been cleared of mold great care should be taken to keep the space dry and ventilated, otherwise, there is a good chance that the mold will return.

Working to prevent mold by increasing ventilation and dehumidifying the air can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run and protect students from potential health hazards. Older buildings are particularly at risk, and in turn, the risk to students in residential buildings such as dorms is far greater. Many universities have dealt with mold issues in dorms and classrooms, costing them thousands of dollars and displacing hundreds of students. In the last few years, Florida StateThe University of Louisville, and The University of South Carolina have all had to relocate students while dealing with mold issues that could have been prevented with better maintenance and ventilation.

Since mold grows naturally wherever it can find moisture and oxygen, it can be extremely difficult to fight, particularly when older buildings create the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Since mold is a health hazard, it is paramount that mold be prevented or, should it appear, be addressed quickly and effectively. AMRestore is a global leader in climate and emergency drying solutions and has decades of experience working with universities to prevent dangerous mold growth. We have all the tools and expertise needed to overcome any mold issue. Learn more about AMRestore’s drying solutions for universities today.

CDC Releases Guidance for Safely Reopening Buildings

CDC Releases Guidance for Safely Reopening Buildings

Earlier this summer, the CDC released guidance for reopening buildings that have spent a considerable portion of this year completely shutdown or under reduced operation. As we approach the end of summer, AMRestore would like to highlight some key elements from the document as schools and other buildings think about bringing employees and students back into buildings that may have been empty for months.

Water Safety

While it makes sense to shut down certain systems while a building is vacant in order to conserve resources, that decision comes with a certain level of risk. Take, for example, the plumbing system. The CDC states,When water is stagnant, hot water temperatures can decrease to the Legionella growth range (77–108°F, 25–42°C). Stagnant water can also lead to low or undetectable levels of disinfectant, such as chlorine. Ensure that your water system is safe to use after a prolonged shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.” Before people return to these vacant buildings, it’s important for administrators, executives, and building managers to take account of all areas that use the plumbing system. If water from the plumbing system is used in aerosol form, that can be particularly dangerous. The CDC offers a Water Management Program Toolkit to help buildings reduce the risk of Legionella infection.

Mold Growth

Another system that is likely to have been shut down during a time where so many people are staying home is the HVAC system. This leaves stagnant air. The combination of stagnant air from a dormant HVAC and nobody in the building to look out for leaks or condensation makes empty buildings an ideal spot for mold growth. “People with asthma and other respiratory conditions and those with mold allergy or weakened immune systems should avoid buildings suspected or confirmed to have mold contamination.” Just because mold growth isn’t visible doesn’t mean it’s not there. The CDC recommends a mold assessment, a serious effort to reduce humidity inside the building, frequent checks of the HVAC system, and thorough cleaning of any area that is damp or carries an odor.

A Smooth Reopening with AMRestore

When it comes to keeping the humidity inside a building low, AMRestore has the expertise and equipment to make it happen. Our experts can assist in the assessment of high mold-risk areas and work to eradicate existing spores while creating an environment to assure they won’t come back during the initial period where the HVAC is turned back on and undergoes frequent inspection. Whether it’s a school building, factory, office building, or any other workplace, AMRestore is by your side to keep everyone inside safe from mold and other contaminants that thrive in a high humidity environment. Contact us to learn more about our temporary climate control.

Protecting School Libraries from Mold

In 2015, a leaky roof and faulty HVAC system at the Mark Twain House & Museum led to a mold infestation that affected at least 5,000 artifacts, including first editions of the famous author’s books, translations and other documents of interest. The institution was not alone with its condensation control problems. In 2016, the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon closed its doors when it discovered mold. Each year, libraries around the world battle the damaging effects of mold, making it one of the greatest problems that the knowledge centers face. While the closure of larger libraries and archives are a public inconvenience, incidents that occur at schools affect the quality of education that young people receive. Because schools often close for long periods, their libraries are particularly vulnerable to mold.

Why Mold in Schools Matter

Mold is a type of fungus that grows and spreads through spore propagation. To survive, it requires moisture and a food source. Because paper is an organic material, some varieties of mold survive on the pages and within the bindings well. In addition to discoloration, library books infested with mold often have a musty odor. Without quick mold remediation efforts, the damage could be irreversible.

Just as mold poses a threat to books and documents, it poses a greater threat to human health. When mold infests a library, it affects the quality of indoor air. Contact with mold can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms or worse, particularly in young people whose immune systems are still developing.

The Importance of Climate Control in Libraries

Despite having an HVAC system, the climate within many libraries is not constant throughout the year. During the winter, for example, the air might feel drier. In the summer, conditions are generally more humid, and a school might set the thermostat at a warmer temperature to save energy. Even if the cooling system is on, the air inside may still seem humid.

Seasonal fluctuations in temperatures and relative humidity levels make libraries vulnerable to mold growth. When school is out, the infestation may go unnoticed until classes resume. Because school libraries are a source of collaboration and the sharing of knowledge, climate control is vital to student health and education, as well as the integrity of book collections.

Among the most effective condensation control solutions are temporary climate control technologies that complement HVAC systems. HVAC systems are designed to condition air and promote comfortable temperatures within a building. While their operations help control humidity, this is not their purpose. Independent climate control solutions with monitoring capabilities are much more effective at maintaining ideal temperatures and humidity levels within a library, saving energy, and preventing costly mold-related damage. More importantly, they help keep the air healthy and library doors open.

Mold Prevention Tips for Libraries

  • Maintain relative humidity levels between 40 and 55 percent
  • Keep temperatures around 70°F or cooler
  • Ensure proper ventilation
  • Vacuum and dust regularly
  • Use desiccants in enclosed spaces
  • Use temporary environmental control solutions when temperatures or humidity levels exceed standards
  • Regularly inspect books for signs of mold
  • If present, remove standing water
  • Reduce humidity levels and temperatures, and increase air circulation
  • Isolate the books affected by mold while wearing protective clothing; allow books to dry if they’re wet
  • Disinfect affected bookshelves
  • Use a soft brush, cloth or vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove mold or mildew while wearing protective clothing in a well-ventilated room
  • Kill mold by dabbing affected areas with denatured alcohol

Mold Remediation Tips

If mold affects a large quantity of books, call the mold remediation specialists at AMRestore. An expert will tell you how to stabilize the books to halt the mold growth until professionals arrive. Without proactive condensation control, libraries can quickly become breeding grounds for mold, especially when students are on vacation. Get in touch with AMRestore today to learn how its affordable temporary climate control solutions will protect the health of your students and prevent costly damage.

Empty Buildings: People Move Out, Mold Moves In

Empty Buildings: People Move Out, Mold Moves In

Across the nation, buildings are emptying out. People are staying home in order to promote their own safety as well as the safety of others. During this time, it’s important that building owners and facility managers take the steps necessary to protect their buildings while they are empty.

Exit People, Enter Mold

Vacant buildings can easily become the ideal place for mold infestations. Without people inside, it might make sense to shut off HVAC systems, close the blinds, and fulfill every expectation that comes with a closed building. While these steps might save money initially, they also expose the building to a host of mold-promoting factors.

Mold spores are everywhere. But unless they come into an environment that allows them to multiply, they tend to go unnoticed. Unfortunately, empty buildings create an environment that does indeed allow them to multiply. By closing shutters and blinds, rooms don’t have UV rays coming through the windows and killing mold spores. As a result, rooms that might not typically seem like a place that mold could grow become just that as soon as the building is vacant and shut down. In addition to a decrease in light waves coming through, there is also a host of issues that are a result of the HVAC system being shut down. Outdoor temperatures are increasing, so without the usual cool air pumping through a building, indoor temperatures will as well. In addition to warmer temperatures, a lack of air conditioning leads to increased humidity. That combination of warm temperatures and increased humidity is absolutely ideal for mold growth.

What you can do to stop mold

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prepare your building for a temporary vacancy. First, give it a thorough cleaning. Thoroughly cleaning carpet and wiping down surfaces can remove existing mold spores that can lead to a much bigger problem. You can also implement a temporary climate solution in parts of the building that are particularly vulnerable to mold infestation. AMRestore offers dehumidification systems that will keep vulnerable spaces dry and mold-free.

When things return to normal, and you can return to working in a building that has been vacant for an extended period, these tips should help keep mold spores from multiplying into a full-grown infest. If there happens to be mold in your space upon your return, the experts at AMRestore also specialize in mold removal. We will treat your space, clean the mold-covered areas, and take steps to prevent mold from coming back.

To learn more about AMRestore’s mold removal service, contact us today.


How to Prevent Indoor Mold Growth

How to Prevent Indoor Mold Growth

Mold – it’s a word no homeowner, business manager, or landlord ever wants to hear. Mold spores spread fast making an infestation difficult to contain and nearly impossible to eradicate completely. But a mold problem must be dealt with since exposure can cause allergic reactions, asthma, and respiratory illnesses. It can also adversely affect property value as no buyer or tenant wants to occupy a mold-infested space. While eliminating all indoor mold is challenging, actions can be taken to manage and prevent it.

Here are tips that property owners and facility managers can apply to prevent indoor mold and a disastrous situation.

Control Moisture

The problem with mold is that it can grow almost everywhere. Carpets, clothing, food, pipes, ceiling tiles, and the backside of drywall are all prime real estate for mold. However, this problem fungus needs moisture to survive. This is why it’s critical to immediately dry indoor spaces that come into contact with water following a flood, heavy rainfall, or a leaky pipe. Allowing water to sit in a basement or on a carpet for more than 48 hours is an open invitation for mold growth. If waterlogged carpets, furniture, and textiles can’t be completely dried, then they should be removed as soon as possible to halt the rapid multiplication of mold.

The Importance of Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation goes a long way to controlling moisture, and thus, containing mold buildup. Warm air holds more water vapor than cool air so in the summer, utilizing an air conditioner can lower temperatures and reduce the possibility of moisture from accumulating on walls and around fixtures. A dehumidifier will also help to control airborne moisture. Opening windows, turning on exhaust fans, and keeping room doors open all improve ventilation and allow cool air to circulate through a building.

Additional Measures

If your facility is in an area of high humidity, then use caulk and weather-stripping to keep humid air from infiltrating indoor spaces. Sealing bathroom sinks and toilets can prevent water from seeping into walls. And it’s important that buildings are well insulated to thwart condensation from forming on windows, piping, walls, roofs, and floors. Also, clean and repair roof gutters often, especially before precipitation arrives.

Mold infestation can damage human health and trying to tackle the problem after the fact can take a significant toll on the pocketbook. The safe bet is to be proactive and take preventative measures such as managing moisture and humidity. But just in case you do find mold growth of any size inside your home or building, it’s important to contact experts right away. AMRestore specializes in mold cleaning. Our process includes an evaluation of the mold and removal by a certified professional. Click here to learn more.

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

With summertime only a few months away, it’s time to start thinking about how excess temperature and moisture in school buildings work in concert to create an ideal environment for mold to thrive. High humidity, in particular, makes it easy for mold to damage soft goods. A wide variety of materials in school environments—ranging from musical instruments to library books—can serve as ideal media for mold growth. If you’re a school administrator dealing with the consequences of a mold outbreak, you may feel as if these items are a total loss.

The good news is that doesn’t need to be the case. In occurrences of mold damage, AMRestore’s document recovery solutions can help return school materials to working condition.

Mold Damage Shuts Down Popular School Activities

The “Sonic Boom” band at Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston, Texas, knows just how expensive mold damage can be. Over the summer, HVAC issues led to a mold issue that decimated 40 musical instruments and cases ranging from brass to woodwinds, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage. The incident caused many students to miss out on participating in halftime shows, parades, and other once-in-a-lifetime events.

Student-athletes and coaches at Fillmore Middle School in Fillmore, California, know the inconvenience of mold damage as well. The boy’s locker room, coach’s office, and stage area of the gymnasium building closed because of safety concerns when mold was found to be present in the drywall attic space over these areas. While repairs take place, coaches are being forced to use classrooms to conduct athletic activities and instruction—not an ideal situation.

Environments Where Mold Thrive

Mold grows when airborne mold spores land on a damp “food source,” such as wood, paper, carpet, insulation, and other building materials, and begin digesting it in order to survive. In schools, excess moisture could be present due to leaky roofs, pipes, windows, and foundations, or even from fresh paint or carpet cleaning. In fact, just the increased humidity of summer weather in building areas where the air conditioning has been shut off can be enough to trigger mold growth. Thus, it’s not much of a stretch to recognize that materials such as schoolbooks, musical instruments, ceiling tiles, and carpeting can provide the perfect environment for mold spores to take hold and grow. The key to managing mold in schools: controlling moisture.

AMRestore Is the Best Solution Provider for Mold Growth and Damage in School Settings

AMRestore’s innovative equipment restoration technology employs state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers that use negative pressure to create the industry’s most effective drying solution, capable of returning school materials to working condition rapidly. And AMRestore’s desiccant air-dry distribution system is an energy-saving technology that provides customers real-time access to documents as they complete the restoration process.

Learn more about our document recovery solutions here.

Protect Your Valuables from Mold in the Winter Months​

Protect Your Valuables from Mold in the Winter Months

Here on the East Coast, winter weather can lead to high humidity levels. Indoors, the humidity combines with warmer temperatures and result in ideal conditions for mold growth. While works of art, antiques, and family heirlooms may seem safe under your roof, they can be susceptible to mold growth if they are not stored properly.

Where NOT to Keep Valuables

Laundry room: laundry machines create moisture that can tarnish fine metals, warp paper and be an ideal breeding ground for mold.

Bathroom: like the laundry room, bathrooms have natural sources of moisture that can make for particularly humid situations. Take your valuables out of the bathroom and be on the lookout for mold growth on walls, in cabinets, or on a shower curtain.

Kitchen: unlike our first two locations, kitchens tend to have windows. Keep all art and photographs away from the windows when it’s cold out. Also avoid the sink area, food preparation and cooking surfaces, and the areas around an oven and dishwasher. The heat, moisture, food particles and oil in a kitchen will cut the life of your valuables short.

Near windows: areas near windows tend to mimic the weather outside, especially if not sealed properly. Keep your heirlooms, photographs and antique findings away from windows.

Near heating vents, air conditioners, radiators, air purifiers, and humidifiers: while practical for maintaining a consistent temperature in a home, these items are not art-friendly.

Near a hot lamp or in an area that receives direct sunlight: while mold growth isn’t likely, the sun’s UV rays will quickly fade any art it touches. Hot lamps can cause art and photographs to become dry and crack.

Ideally, art, antiques and family heirlooms should be stored somewhere with temperatures of 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity. As winter continues to bring low temperatures and more humidity, understand that certain valuables may need to be moved in order to avoid becoming a breeding ground for mold.

Even after employing these tips, mold outbreaks are possible. If a mold outbreak is affecting your family’s most valuable items, contact AMRestore. As restoration experts, we are your best chance of bringing your items back to their original condition and not causing further damage. Contact us immediately if you notice any mold growth in your home or on any valuable items.

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