NEWS | Sept. 27, 2012

JB Charleston's privatized housing partners take measures to keep mold under control

By Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Joint

South Carolina's semi-tropical climate often lends itself to high levels of humidity, which can contribute to mold and mildew growth when condensation gathers within a home.

Mold and mildew are not uncommon throughout the Lowcountry, which can be a concern for many residents who live in a climate such as this one.

Locally, seven newly constructed Forest City homes at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base were recently found to have isolated incidents of mold or mildew in the air conditioning registers of the homes' cooling systems. With regard to Balfour Beatty Communities, a total of seven homes have reported mold/mildew incidents since they started managing housing at JB Charleston in 2007. Both privatized housing communities, the community managers and the home builders, have jointly responded to each incident as soon as it was reported and those situations have since been completely resolved.

All newly constructed Forest City homes, including homes not yet occupied, have been inspected for any additional potential mold or mildew occurrences, and that process is nearly complete.

Balfour Beatty Communities continuously inspects homes through their Preventative Maintenance program, as well as through their Change in Occupancy Maintenance program in order to help prevent future mold or mildew problems.

In each case, the home was inspected and appropriate remedial actions were immediately taken. All mold and mildew was thoroughly cleaned or otherwise removed from impacted areas. In most cases, residents were able to remain in the home during the cleaning process or, at most, were out of the home for only a few hours while the work was performed.

In several cases with Forest City homes, it was found that condensation had begun to accumulate in and around the air conditioning registers and construction dust was present. Removal of those materials and thorough cleaning has been central to the remediation process in most cases. For Balfour Beatty homes, many of the issues also have stemmed from improper settings with air conditioning units.

Environmental consultants for both housing communities have indicated the actions taken to date have addressed the issues and the conditions in the homes are acceptable for occupancy.

For residents who reported incidents of mold or mildew, both communities were able to react quickly and aggressively in remediating each case.

Mold & Mildew Prevention
There are thousands of species of mold and mildew that are present in our homes and everyday lives. And fortunately, only a few species of mold are harmful to humans and they are not common in occurrence.

Residents of Forest City and Balfour Beatty Communities are encouraged to practice a few simple daily habits to minimize the potential for condensation to gather in the home and potentially allow the growth of mold or mildew.

Tips and Reminders:
· Use of the bathroom exhaust fans during and following showers, as well as the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking on the stovetop, can help quite a bit to keep mold and mildew from growing.
· Whenever possible, try to avoid positioning large pieces of furniture in front of ductwork vents.
· Try to leave some air circulation room in front and all around the vents. Your home will cool better, use less energy and avoid incidents of mold and mildew growth.
· Report any water problems or leaks to the Housing Manager of your privatized community. These should be repaired as soon as possible.
· Keep indoor humidity levels low (30-60% is ideal) by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
· Increase seasonal cross flow ventilation by opening windows and doors periodically and using exhaust fans when cooking, dishwashing and bathing.
· It is recommended that fans be left in the "auto" setting.
· Don't install carpeting in areas that are likely to be damp (bathrooms, garages or foyers).
· Dry out wet areas as soon as possible, but at least within 48 hours, to prevent significant mold growth.
· For routine housekeeping, clean small amounts of suspect mold on hard surfaces using soap and water.
· Wear rubber gloves and scrub the affected area with the soapy water until clean. Rinse with clean water. Let the treated area dry naturally overnight.
· Do not use ammonia cleaners.
· Do not clean up mold if you have been diagnosed with mold allergies or sensitivities.
· Do not clean large areas of mold.

If any suspicious, recurring leaking or moisture is noticed in the kitchen, bath, AC registers or utility closet, residents should report the issue to their respective Privatized Housing Community's maintenance office immediately.

Mold and mildew can be a recurring problem in many homes in a semi-tropical, high-humidity climate like Charleston's, so residents of Forest City and Balfour Beatty Communities are advised to promptly report any incident of mold or mildew to their respective maintenance points of contacts by calling Forest City at 855-831-3499 or Balfour Beatty Communities at 843-797-3858.

For a more comprehensive list on mold and mildew prevention, and who to contact if you feel that you are experiencing health-related symptoms caused by mold or mildew, please click the link below http://www.charleston.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123319798