It is not an exaggeration to say that mold is one of the worst things that you can find in your home. Mold is a nasty substance that can cause considerable damage to both your home and your health.
Mold can do extraordinary damage if given only a little time and a limited amount of space. This is why it is so pervasive in places like apartments. Apartments are capable of providing everything that mold needs to grow and thrive.
Mold needs two things: moisture and nutrients to feed on. If you throw in humidity and protection from UV light, you have a veritable breeding ground for mold in your apartment.
Here we will go over why mold can take hold of your apartment and what you can do about it.
Why is Mold Common in Apartments?
There are numerous reasons why mold can take hold in an apartment.
Apartments, particularly smaller apartments, are already perfect boxes for mold to grow in, but it is important to recognize the additional factors at play.
As previously stated, mold requires moisture and nutrients in order to grow and thrive. Faulty plumbing provides both of those things.
Building HVAC Ductwork
One of the things that can be a major drawback to living in an apartment is that even if you have your own space, everything is essentially shared with other tenants. This includes the HVAC ductwork.
In the warmer months, when condensation is likely to build due to high humidity, there is always a chance of mold developing. It may not necessarily develop in your unit, but it could spread to yours before you become aware of it.
You may not think that the roof of your apartment building could inspire mold growth, but the truth is far different.
If your apartment building, like many, has a flat roof that has not been properly sealed, rainwater can pool up and eventually cause a leak.
A leaky roof is one of the worst promoters of mold growth.
Water Storage Tank
If your apartment has a water storage tank (or silo) on its roof, that can also be a potential mold hazard due to leakage. When a water storage tank begins to leak, it can cause a massive pooling of water.
If you pair that with improper sealing, you have a mold disaster waiting to happen.
Concrete pointing, in relation to windows, is the concrete border that surrounds a window, particularly in a brick building (which most apartment buildings tend to be made of). The sad truth about most building materials is that they are all subject to wear and tear over time.
When the concrete pointing on your apartment’s windows starts to wear out they become a point at which moisture can build up, causing eventual mold that can make its way into your apartment.
Steam From Old Pipes
Pipes from old radiators are susceptible not only to leaks and wear and tear, but can also generate mold growth thanks to the build-up of steam. As these pipes tend to remain hidden, it can take a long time before you notice mold growth caused by them, making them more dangerous.
Common Laundry Areas
Having to share a laundry room can be uncomfortable and even frustrating living in an apartment complex. However, nothing can compare to the possibility of mold growth that comes about from a common laundry area.
If your laundry area is located in a basement with poor ventilation, that is problematic enough. However, when you throw in the accumulated steam and potential for water leaks that come with a laundry room, it is not difficult to see how mold can become a problem.
Making things worse is the fact that with so many people coming and going in that area, it could take a while before the mold is discovered.
Improperly Maintained Kitchen Appliances
Having a dishwasher or an ice maker installed in your apartment can seem like a luxury at first. However, if they were not properly installed or regularly maintained, they are a potential mold hazard.
Leaks can run rampant without proper installation or maintenance, leading to mold growth.
If your apartment has a terrace, then it has a terrace drain. A terrace drain prevents rainwater from leaking from one terrace to the terrace below. If you have a faulty or damaged terrace drain then it could leak into your home and cause mold growth.
Prevention of Mold Growth in Apartments as a Tenant
Proper Ventilation and Humidity Control
What are the most important things that you can do as a tenant in your apartment to prevent mold growth is to ensure that there is proper ventilation at all times. This means running a fan in your home, leaving some doors open, and occasionally cracking open a window.
Above all, you must make sure that your vent filter is clean by changing it every couple of months.
Ask for controlling humidity, keeping your apartment at a relatively cool temperature should help with this.
However, during warmer weather, it may help to use a dehumidifier to bring humidity levels down in your home to a level between 30% and 50%. Any humidity level higher than 50% is inviting mold growth into your home.
Prevention of Mold Growth as a Landlord
If you are a landlord, then you need to be aware that the responsibility of preventing mold in your apartment complex as a whole falls on you. It is your job to ensure that common laundry rooms or bathrooms are mold-free.
It is also your responsibility to ensure that the complex as a whole is safe from roof leaks or leaks from water storage tanks on the roof. Unless otherwise noted in the tenant's lease, any other major repairs, installations, or appliances or also your responsibility.
Any faulty plumbing is also your responsibility.
Failure to meet these responsibilities can result in legal action against you on the part of your tenants.
If conditions are particularly dangerous, then you may be in legal trouble, especially when mold can compromise the health and safety of your tenants.
Tenant Rights Concerning Mold
If you are a tenant in an apartment and have discovered small-scale mold growth, then you should be able to clean it up with simple, store-bought cleaning solutions.
However, if you encounter large-scale mold growth, especially mold growth exceeding 10 square feet in size, then that is not on you to take care of.
If you encounter large-scale mold growth in your apartment, you must bring it to your landlord's attention so that they can take care of it. If the mold growth is large enough, there is a good chance that they will bring in a water damage and mold damage specialist to take care of it.
Sometimes mold growth happens in small patches, which are simple one-off problems that could be quickly and easily handled.
However, when you experience larger-scale mold growth in your apartment complex caused by larger problems, you need to report it to your landlord to have it taken care of.
Remember that what starts off as a small mold problem can quickly become a big problem, and that big problem can quickly become a shared problem among tenants if it is not dealt with in a timely manner.