Mold Growth Caused by Indoor Humidity May Be Related To Covid-19 Lifestyles

Last spring, many property managers stopped performing unit walk throughs due to new COVID-19 safety protocols and were only able to enter units for emergency situations.   At the same time, many tenants have changed their lifestyles – mostly working from home, cooking more frequently, and more people living in the unit.  Let’s face it, these factors can increase humidity levels and contribute to mold and mildew proliferation, especially during our rainy wet season here in Oregon and Washington. 

Here’s what Property Managers Need to Know

If the humidity is too high, it can cause mold and mildew to grow which can damage building materials and cause serious health problems for tenants such as increased asthma and allergy problems.  If the humidity is too low, it can cause door frames and molding to warp and crack and for tenants cause dry, itchy skin, increased coughing, wheezing, and other breathing difficulties.

Instead of waiting for things to Return to “Normal” Here are some things you can do

certified tipsTo help keep relative humidity issues at bay until you can conduct walk-throughs, Certified Indoor Environmental recommends that you walk the perimeter of the building and look for condensation on windows which can be indicative of high humidity in a unit.  It is also common during the winter months to see tenants cover windows with blankets hoping to trap heat inside, but also can cause moisture to accumulate.  If you have concerns about a particular unit, it is critical to assess the unit as mold can grow quickly.  

A humidity gauge can monitor the relative humidity in a unit.  Hygrometers can typically be found in most hardware stores and come with multiple sensors so you can monitor the humidity in several different rooms like the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom from one console.  Humidity levels found to be over sixty percent are too high and can contribute to mold growth.  

Until Covid-19 safety protocols lift…

Here are tips you can share with tenants that may help prevent humidity issues from developing this winter and spring:

  • Clean and dry areas where water spills and quickly report any water leaks.
  • Run your bathroom and kitchen fans to keep the air inside the unit dry
  • Allow air to flow and circulate by opening windows for about 5-10 minutes per day even on cold days.
  • Make sure your clothes in the closet are dry and clean.
  • Place furniture slightly away from walls to allow air flow.
  • Vacuum regularly, mainly if you have carpet.
  • Check the soil in plants for signs of mold.
  • Report any mold growth or musty odors (a musty odor is usually caused by mold growth)
  • For tenants that may have issues with low humidity, they can use a vaporizer or humidifier to help increases the amount of moisture in the air and bring the humidity up to a comfortable level.
  • For tenants that may have issues with high humidity, a dehumidifier can draw moisture out of the air. Dehumidifiers are often recommended for units with ongoing mold problems and can help bring the humidity down to a comfortable level.
Annual InspectionsPrepare for Annual inspections

Here is what Certified Indoor Environmental recommends annually:

  • Check the plumbing to make sure there are no signs of water damage or faulty plumbing. A mold infestation starts with a damp environment.
  • Check air ventilation and ensure to clean drip pans to allow air circulation.
  • Check floors, roofs, and windows to ensure they are correctly insulated. This can prevent mold spores from entering from the outside.
  • Check walls behind furniture to ensure mold is not growing due to lack of air flow.
  • During the winter months keep the indoor climate warm to prevent condensation from forming in attics and interiors.

For more tips about improving indoor air quality, mold remediation, and asbestos testing, please visit Certified Indoor Environmental’s full page of property management resources here.

Certified Indoor Environmental is licensed, bonded, and insured. We apply advanced technology and use state-of-the-art equipment to handle mold remediation, indoor air quality testing, and disinfecting services for residential and commercial customers. In addition to property management, we also support realtors and home owners.  Our technicians are certified and trained by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning, and Restoration Certification), the organization recognized for setting the highest standards for the cleaning and restoration industry.  Learn more about our process here.

CIE | Author – Lynette Schmidt, Business Development Manager | January 12, 2021

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