Mold or fungi are always present, both indoors and outdoors. They are invisible to the naked eye, which means that once they grow in harmful proportions, we don’t always know it. But as business owners, we need to always be on top of mold and mildew growth in our workplace because they can be harmful to the health and safety of our employees. There are plenty of people who are sensitive to molds, which means they are susceptible to having symptoms like wheezing, stuffy nose, and red or itchy eyes and skin. Those who have asthma or suffer from mold allergies may experience even more adverse reactions.
If you and your team are making a return to the office soon, you need to ensure it’s as healthy as possible, especially in the time of a global pandemic. Here are some essential pointers for preventing mold growth in your place of work.
Inspect for a mold problem
But first, you need to check to ensure that you didn’t grow a mold problem when you and your team were working from home. Here are some signs you need to watch out for:
- Take a cotton swab and dip it in diluted bleach made of one-part bleach and sixteen-parts water. Dab the cotton swab on the wall. If the spot where you dabbed the swab lightens all of a sudden, or if it keeps returning even after you’ve cleaned it, it’s safe to assume that it’s mold growth.
- There are plenty of mold testing kits in your local pharmacy. Just follow the instructions and test multiple times if you need to.
Once you’ve confirmed there has been a mold or mildew growth in your office, here are some next steps you can take:
- Seek professional help. Specialists are trained and equipped to find the source of every old problem, and they can help you deal with the issue once and for all, instead of dealing with it yourself and finding that it keeps popping up in the long term.
- Once the mold is eliminated, consider investing in a commercial-grade ozone generator machine. It will help you get rid of unwanted odors in your office or any remnants of mold or mildew smell. The machine is also ideal for getting rid of other odors coming from food, pets, smoking, must, and other unpleasant smells, so it certainly makes for a worthwhile investment.
Tips for preventing mold growth
Once you’re sure your office is now mold-free, here are some tips to ensure it stays that way:
- Make sure there are no leaks in your plumbing. Always keep an eye out for condensation and wet spots.
- Don’t wait to fix sources of moisture in the office. Your window is 24 to 48 hours.
- Increase your workplace’s surface temperature, or take steps to reduce the humidity in your indoor air. Take steps to increase your office’s air circulation by incorporating better ventilation if the air outside is dry and cold or dehumidifying your indoor air if the air outside is humid and warm. It’s all about balance.
- Adding more insulation can also decrease the potential for condensation in your office’s cold surfaces like the floors, windows, exterior walls, piping, and roof.
- Make a habit of regularly maintaining your office’s HVAC system. Make sure the drip pans are always flowing properly, unobstructed, and constantly clean.
- Replacing your filters regularly can also help in ensuring that they are properly seated.
- If your office has moisture-generation appliances like dryers, make sure to always vent them outside on the weekends.
- Don’t leave wet spots for a long time. Make sure to dry them as soon as possible.
- Don’t let your indoor humidity go higher than 60 percent relative humidity. The idea number is 30 to 50 percent.
- Don’t neglect your office’s carpet on concrete floors. This is because carpets or rugs are prone to absorbing moisture and can be a breeding ground for biological pollutants. If you must incorporate a carpet or rug, make sure to install plastic sheeting over the concrete and incorporate insulation through sub-flooring to prevent moisture.
- Immediately toss out mold or mildew-infested items. These can include furniture pieces, fabrics, carpet, or upholstery—especially if cleaning and drying are insufficient.
When it comes to the health and safety of our employees, it’s always better safe than sorry. We should never take our chances when it comes to keeping ourselves and our team from harm. Before you make a full return to the office, make sure that it’s in tip-top shape and that there are no pollutants that can cause harm to you and your employees.