Mold. We all know how gross it can be. You’ve probably seen some in the darkest, dampest corners of your rental properties and even in your own home. Often, mold has that familiar moss green color. Other times, it’s much scarier than that (think black mold). Whatever type of mold there is, it’s sure to cause health problems for your tenants, as well as damage to your rental property.
Mold is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. It is also no secret that mold can cause respiratory problems, particularly allergic rhinitis and asthma, which can greatly impact your tenant’s health. Indeed, there’s a real threat of mold in indoor environments.
Thankfully, there are ways to make your rental property mold-free.
Building a Mold-Free Space
Is a mold-free space possible?
The answer is YES.
However, to protect your rental investment property from the dangers of mold, there are several important steps you need to take.
Use Mold-Resistant Construction Materials
Modern houses and buildings are built using mold-resistant construction products. These include mold-proof insulation, drywall, drywall tape, paint, stucco, caulk, and shower pan. Wood can also be treated with anti-mold chemicals. Mold-resistant drywall has fiberglass facing rather than traditional paper facing. Talk to your contractor about your options. Mold-resistant building materials are a little pricier than their traditional counterparts but they can last for a very long time and will keep your rental property mold-free.
Install a Strong Moisture Barrier
Moisture is the major cause of mold growth. An effective moisture barrier system is not only essential in keeping your rental property mold-free. It’s also critical in maintaining the structural integrity of your rental property. Below are the different types of barriers that you should consider installing in your building:
- Air barriers – these are installed on exterior walls, windows, doors, and roofing systems to prevent air leakage and moisture seepage inside the building.
- Vapor barriers/retarders – sometimes, air molecules containing vapor can enter a wall system even if there’s an air barrier. An airtight wall assembly allows moisture to escape, diffuse, or not get trapped in the wall.
- Liquid water barrier – installed behind the exterior wall siding, this type of barrier keeps water from entering your walls.
Other commercial facilities make use of multi-functional barriers that offer protection against air, water, and moisture while ensuring a healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient environment.
Install a Ventilation System
Ventilation works by reducing the air pressure inside a building. It helps regulate internal temperature and humidity, reduces moisture, and prevents the growth of mold, bacteria, and other air pollutants. To keep your rental property well-ventilated, install ceiling fans, a local exhaust system, and a pressure system. You can also install air handling units (AHU) that supply air and extract air from interior spaces.
As we have talked about building a mold-free building, let us now discuss how to prevent the growth of the mold in an already existing building. Here’s what you can do to prevent mold from invading your rental property:
Reduce Humidity Level
Mold loves humid environments. Consider installing commercial dehumidifiers in order to keep the humidity levels within your investment property at a safe level, which is anywhere from 40–50%. Dehumidifiers work much like air conditioners. They draw in warm air from the room, turn it into water through condensation, and discharge the water into a bucket or unit connected to the drain or sink via a hose.
Clean Up Spills and Repair Leaks Immediately
Those coffee spills on carpets and upholstery can all contribute to moisture buildup. And if not properly dried within 24 hours, such surfaces can attract mold spores. It’s also important to repair leaks immediately because mold spreads easily. Wet or damp floors, musty odors, wall cracks, and an exceptionally high water bill are all signs of water leaks.
Add a Mold Retardant
Mold retardants are chemicals that you can either spray or wipe on surfaces, including carpets. Be careful when using these products though because they can cause some serious health effects.
Avoid Basement Carpets
Basements are naturally damp and moist. Thus, adding things that can hold water and moisture like carpets isn’t really a good idea. Look for a floor covering that is water-resistant. If you prefer carpets, opt for something that’s made of synthetic (man-made) fibers. These carpets are ideal for basements because they are breathable, which means they don’t retain moisture the way carpets made from natural fibers do. If installing an underpad, choose a polyurethane foam pad – a synthetic material as well.
If your basement lacks insulation, or if your basement is regularly exposed to flood, remember that no floor covering is able to help prevent mold. In such cases, it’s best to leave your basement floor uncovered and have professionals fix any water damage issues.
Always Watch Out for Signs of Mold
Sometimes, even the most well-preserved properties can still become vulnerable to mold. Once mold enters your building, it starts to affect your health and the health of your tenants and employees. It’s important to get a professional mold inspection service from time to time because sometimes, mold can be difficult to spot. Aside from the green, white or black spots on surfaces, other signs of mold in homes and rental spaces include warping of wood or drywall, rust on pipes, deterioration of building materials (e.g. wallpaper peeling or paint chipping), musty smells, and leaks.
Mold is a common concern not only among homeowners but also among rental property business owners and property managers. Mold thrives in warm, humid environments and spreads easily. Aside from causing health problems to your tenants, it can also damage your real estate property severely.
Thankfully, there are many ways to make your rental property mold-free. Among the most important steps are using mold-resistant construction products, and installing moisture barriers and ventilation systems. Furthermore, preventing mold build-up in your property can be achieved in simple ways, such as reducing your indoor humidity, repairing leaks at the soonest time possible, applying mold retardant, using a water-resistant floor covering for your basement, and having your property inspected for mold.
This article has been contributed by Megan Jones.