What are some of the ways a landlord can control moisture issues to help prevent mold in rental units?

A visual inspection of the rental property exterior and interior spaces is one of the most effective ways to detect a moisture problem and/or the presence of mold. Although visual signs of mold are not always obvious, the musty smell of mold is another way to discover moisture problems. Mold can grow on the hidden surfaces behind paneling and wallpaper; the top of ceiling tiles; beneath carpet and pad; or inside heating and cooling ducts. Attics, crawl spaces, and basements provide many opportunities for mold growth. Areas inside the wall around plumbing or heating/cooling ducts may trap condensation and cause water damage. Hidden mold growth should be investigated cautiously since there is the potential to release new mold spores into the air causing additional problems.

Some of the ways to control moisture to help prevent mold include:

  • Inspect and eliminate water leaks by repairing leaky roofs and windows.
  • Repair leaking plumbing and plumbing fixtures and control sweating plumbing.
  • Repair leaking plumbing and plumbing fixtures and control sweating plumbing.
  • Maintain caulking associated with showers, bath tubs, and sinks.
  • Inspect under-sink shutoff valves, usually hidden from view in kitchen or bathroom cabinets.
  • Inspect toilets – wax rings under bowls, seals between bowls and tanks, and shutoff valves.
  • Inspect valves and lines associated with air conditioning and evaporative cooling units.
  • Be concerned about water-related appliances, including proper venting of clothes dryers.
  • Move water away from the building foundation utilizing ground sloping and drainage systems.
  • Install gutters and keep them clean.
  • Ventilate crawl spaces. Cover over the dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to serve as a moisture barrier from the soil underneath.
  • Inspect and maintain HVAC equipment, keeping drip pans clean and the flow unobstructed.
  • Prevent condensation by increasing surface temperatures using insulation, increasing air circulation, and/or reducing humidity.
  • Avoid installation of carpeting directly over concrete floors.
  • Install and use exhaust fans in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Open windows in these rooms when available and as weather allows.
  • Use fans to increase air circulation within the home.
  • Move large pieces of furniture away from wall corners and the inside of exterior walls.
  • Provide warm air circulation to all areas of the home.
  • Open doors between rooms and keep closet doors open to promote air circulation.
  • Ventilate areas with fresh air.
  • Watch for condensation or wet spots.
  • Keep indoor humidity low, in the 30-50 percent range if possible.
  • Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to reduce moisture in hot, humid climates.
  • Use area rugs that can be taken up and washed instead of carpeting that can absorb moisture that will encourage mold growth.
  • Always clean and dry wet or damp spots as soon as possible and always within 48 hours.
  • Vacuum and clean household areas regularly.
  • Eliminate leakage around windows and doors.
  • Avoid cold spots on interior walls by proper placement of ducts.
  • Install ceiling fans and consider forced air heating where not already in place, as they increase air movement which inhibits mold growth.
  • Install exhaust fans in areas that have moisture sources (replace non-working existing ones), e.g., bathrooms, laundry room and kitchens to improve ventilation.
  • Perform regular inspections to be sure that tenants themselves are not creating problems by failing to cooperate in using available fans, reporting leaks, etc.

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