Indoor molds become a problem when they are visible, or when they vary compared to outside air. Molds need water, a food source, and the right temperature and environmental conditions to grow.
HVAC systems are one of the most common contributors for water supply. HVAC systems have piping, drain pans, all of which can be sources for mold growth and a transportation device for dispersing mold spores all over the building.
As mold spores move, they look for food sources, which are many within a building: drywall, carpeting, cardboard, paper, fabric, wood, furnishings.
And because indoor environments are designed to maintain relative temperatures night and day, they are conducive to allowing mold to grow. Especially in those dark storage areas that are left unchecked for long periods of time.
A building manager’s best course of action is to control and eliminate indoor moisture. While many attempt to introduce fungicides, biocides and cleaners once mold appears, these chemicals can be damaging to the equipment, the environment, and to personnel within the building throughout the day. If you eliminate the potential for mold forming, you can eliminate all problematic conditions that may arise because of it.
The best place to start is to design and install a HVAC system with essential components designed for high efficiency. From there, a proper maintenance plan will keep your HVAC in good running condition, and help you stay abreast of any problems developing over time.
Key components that should be regularly maintained include:
Coils and drain pans –cooling coils dehumidify air and cause condensation to drip into a drain pan and exit the system via a seal trap. Drain pans must have the proper slope and be cleaned frequently to avoid problems.
Humidification and dehumidification equipment – these surfaces must be periodically drained and treated to prevent wet surfaces from developing microbial growth.
Air filters – air filters should always be clean and well maintained, fitting snugly into their filter housing. Clean and replace on a regularly scheduled basis.
Ducts – ducts are constantly in use. A small amount of dust is normal, but if it builds up it can begin restricting airflow. Watch for areas subjected to moisture or condensation, cleaning these on a more frequent basis.
Cooling towers –monitor water quality and chemical treatment to prevent microbial growth.
Air intakes – pay close attention to areas where outdoor air enters the HVAC system. Areas near garbage dumpsters, boxes, paper, standing water, or fresh vegetation and landscaping can contribute to increased likelihood of airborne spores.
A properly designed and maintained HVAC system will go a long way in reducing or preventing mold issues. As a manager, it’s important to have a system in place that will allow you to prevent and remediate mold problems as quick as they occur.