Environmental growth such as mold and mildew are natural aspects of our environment, but keeping it in check is important to health and safety. When it comes to mold and mildew, it's important for residents to know their responsibilities and what to expect from Housing and Residence Life.
What is mold and how does it grow:
Mold is a part of the natural environment that aids in the decomposition of leaves, trees, and other natural outdoor organic materials. Individual mold spores are invisible to the human eye and are continually floating around outside in nature. However, when those spores make their way indoors and are exposed to wet/humid areas they can begin to grow. It is impossible to eliminate mold and mold spores in the indoor environment due to the ingress and egress of daily human activity; it can be easily brought into buildings through open windows and doors, ventilation and air conditioning systems, clothing, or shoes.
Mold can look like spots and it can smell musty. It can come in a variety of colors, including white, which is sometimes seen on a damp carpet; pink, which is often found on shower walls not cleaned regularly; and darkly pigmented, which is often seen around windowsills as a result of condensation.
These substances can grow if a room is not properly maintained or ventilated, therefore following the best practices below will reduce the likelihood of indoor mold growth. Residents are expected to maintain rooms in a manner that prevents the occurrence of substance growth.
- For rooms that have heating and ventilation control, set the thermostat between 68-75° Fahrenheit. Leave your a/c unit on when you leave to help maintain humidity levels throughout the day.
- Do not turn the unit on a high cool or hot setting and then turn it off once it gets to the setting. Turning units off and on continually prevents proper airflow, and stagnant air leads to odors and potential mold growth issues.
- Air circulation helps prevent mold. Do not block airflow from window unit air conditioners and avoid packing closets and storage areas too tightly
- Keep windows and your suite door closed to prevent additional moisture from entering your space, particularly in warm seasons.
- Avoid placing damp or wet clothes/towels in storage spaces for extended periods of time as that will provide an environment conducive to mold growth.
- Good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down counters, clean up spills quickly, washout out refrigerators).
- Empty all trash and recycling regularly.
- If you are living in an apartment on campus, you are responsible for cleaning your own bathroom. At least once a week, bathroom shower stalls, tubs, sinks, and floors should be scrubbed clean with a cleanser, and treated with a bathroom disinfectant.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Keep the room free of dirt and debris.
- Clean and dry visible moisture on windows, walls, and other surfaces including personal property as soon as reasonably possible. Note that humidity levels change over the course of a day.
- Remove plants from the area. Wet soil and/or containers, such as wicker baskets, introduce moisture in the air and promote fungal growth.
- Use the bathroom fans while showering or bathing, and use exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, or cleaning. Submit a maintenance request about any non-working fans.
- Limit hot showers to shorter periods of time to prevent excessive humidity and steam build-up.
- Residents are allowed to bring small portable units (de-humidifier, air cleaner, humidifier, fan, ionizer. etc.) that meet their personal comfort desires as these items are not supplied in the rooms.
- Submit a maintenance request reporting any problems with the air-conditioning or heating systems.
When You See Mold or Mildew in Your Room:
- If you see a little pink substance around the bottom of your shower curtain, a little black substance on your windowsill, or other possible mold growth, don’t panic. Mold or mildew growth is generally not a cause for concern unless you have been diagnosed with asthma or severe allergic reactions to mold.
- To prevent further growth, clean the area with hot soapy water, disinfectant wipes, or an antibacterial cleaner as soon as you see the first signs of mold or mildew. We do not recommend household bleach. Keep in mind that cleaning just once will not result in never having to clean that same area again. Regular cleaning is necessary to prevent mold.
- Check the area to determine if the housekeeping practices listed above are being followed or should be improved. Not following these guidelines may cause excess moisture to build up inside residential spaces and lead to the growth of mold or mildew.
- Check the area to see if there is a leak or a maintenance issue causing the excess moisture and if so, submit a maintenance request immediately. For your own safety and to prevent unnecessary damage to Institute property, students should never attempt to perform maintenance tasks on their own.
- Submit a maintenance request reporting any water intrusion, including but not limited to plumbing leaks, drips, “sweating” pipes, and overflows (e.g., sinks, toilets, etc.).
- Submit a maintenance request to report any significant substance growth on surfaces inside the room.
- Residents are expected to allow the Housing maintenance team or its contractors to enter the room to inspect and make necessary repairs.
How Housing and Residence Life Responds to Reported Incidents of Mold:
- If students have followed the guidelines above and continue to see excessive mold or mildew growth or if they feel that a mechanical issue is the cause, submit a maintenance request.
- Housing works with Georgia Tech’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) to perform indoor air quality investigations as needed. Appropriate staff will determine the cause of the persistent moisture issue and develop a plan to correct the problem as quickly as possible (typically within 2-3 days).
- Upon resolving the cause for the excessive moisture, measures will be taken to thoroughly clean and dry the area affected. This work may be completed by housing staff and/or an outside contractor specializing in water cleanup and restoration.
- Staff may instruct residents in ways to prevent future incidents from recurring.
- Georgia Tech Housing and Residence Life engages in routine maintenance efforts to prevent maintenance and mold concerns. Buildings and residence hall rooms are inspected multiple times per year.