Preventing and Treating Mold

July 1, 2011

It is much easier to prevent mold than treat it. As part of a preventive maintenance program, interior and exterior insulated areas should be inspected quarterly or, at a minimum, semi-annually.

  • Use a digital camera to document areas and compare to prior conditions.
  • Fix small problems. Ignoring a problem usually means it will resurface later—typically bigger.
  • Get up on a ladder for hard-to-reach areas.
  • If possible, use a thermal camera to see where heat or cold is leaking from pipes. This is a good indicator of a potential problem. (A local remediation or energy
    survey company may have one.)

If mold is detected, remember it is alive and growing. Do not immediately rip down the affected areas—consider the effects of spreading tens of millions of spores through the HVAC system.

  • First, locate the source of moisture and repair it as soon as possible.
  • Consider sectioning off or containing areas so cross contamination does not occur. Air scrubbers/negative air machines can help prevent cross contamination.
  • Covering the area with plastic so it is not visible to passersby may prevent inaccurate information from spreading until a plan of action is determined.

Local laws may direct what must be done if mold is present. At a minimum, refer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Mold Remediation in Schools & Commercial Buildings” at
Mold is not regulated, as it is nearly impossible to remove all spores from any environment. However, mold is considered a hazard for insurance purposes, and coverage is often limited if mold needs to be professionally removed.

If mold is growing in a facility, chances are it has been there for some time. Mold does not turn a section of insulation or other porous building material black or green in a day or two. It takes weeks or even months of a small drip, leak, or penetration for mold to become visible. Preventive maintenance, true to its name, can prevent mold before it becomes noticeable. While regular inspections may not catch all problems, they find many that would be worse if detected later.