Last fall, dozens of school districts across the region were affected by mold growth and had to delay the start of the school year. Others caught mold growth as maintenance staffs reopened buildings before the school year but still had to undergo days or even weeks of remediation. This explosion of growth was caused by an August that was hot, humid and extremely wet. Combine that with undisturbed classrooms and you have a recipe for mold growth.
Proper maintenance at the end of the school year can go a long way to preventing summer mold.
So, as this school year comes to an end what should school districts and maintenance staff do to properly close down a school to prevent mold growth this summer? How should staff reopen a school before the students come in? Our in house mold remediation expert Tom Peter, a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Vice President of Insurance Restorations Specialists, Inc. (IRS) in Monroe, New Jersey, has a few tips:
How to Properly Close Down a School
It’s really about moisture and moisture control, if there’s no moisture then there’s no school summer mold. Having high humidity in a room will allow mold to grow on surfaces and certain levels of moisture will grow different types of mold. There are always mold spores around looking for someplace to grow. They also need a food source which could be a wood surface or even dust.
For schools who clean with water and then close up for the summer, proper ventilation and drying after the cleaning process is key. During the summer there should be frequent ventilation but not necessarily air conditioning. I’ve noticed the rooms that have the most air conditioning or are the coldest have the most mold. Some rooms are over-chilled which creates condensation on desks and other surfaces. We feel a more moderate temperature and some air movement are the best conditions to prevent mold growth.
How to Properly Open a School
When staff comes back to prepare the school for the students, they should not assume that there is no mold even though they’ve properly closed the school down. A comprehensive check should be performed for every area of the school. Inspect as early as possible, if professional remediation is required it will take time. Early inspection also avoids the bottleneck of schools that open around the same time, find mold and then all need remediation at the same time.
Not only should student areas be checked but also a review of the HVAC system should be completed. A critical mistake is to come in and turn on the HVAC system prior to inspection. If the ventilation system has been compromised by mold, now it is blowing those spores all over the building. Only after certifying the cleanliness should any cooling or ventilation systems be turned on.
Blowers covered in mold will spread spores throughout the building.
Following these steps will help prevent school summer mold, costly remediation efforts and most importantly everyone (except maybe the students!) will be happy when school starts on time.
About Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc.
Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is a premier provider of disaster recovery mitigation, environmental remediation, biohazard emergency response and HVAC inspection and cleaning in the New Jersey-Philadelphia-New York City area. IRS is certified by NADCA and have Certified Air Systems Cleaning Technicians and a Certified Ventilation System Inspector on staff.
IRS has been selected to provide disaster recovery services to members of the Educational Services Commission of NJ (ESCNJ), the largest co-op in the state service school districts, colleges, universities, housing authorities, and other county and state agencies throughout New Jersey.
New Jersey State approved Co-op # 65MCESCCPS
RFP # ESCNJ 17/18-34
Contract Dates: 11/16/17-11/15/20