Owning a self-storage business comes with risk. Tenants expect their belongings to be safe while in storage. If they check their items and see some have been damaged in one way or another, you can expect a complaint at the very least, or a lawsuit at the worst.
So many unfortunate things can happen to a storage unit, from a break-in to a vermin invasion to fire or flood. Then there’s mold, a nightmare infestation that won’t just damage belongings but presents a potential health risk. Of course, it’s best to prevent mold from ever growing at your storage facility; but if it does, here’s some guidance on what to do.
Identifying the Problem
Mold forms and thrives wherever there’s excess moisture. There are different types of mold, and their appearance may range from fuzzy to slimy. They also come in different colors, including black, green, white, orange and purple.
If there’s water buildup in your storage building because of a leaky roof, bad plumbing, overflowing gutters or humid air, mold will likely develop slowly over time and eventually wreak havoc on items made of paper, wood, fabric and upholstery. Worse, mold spores can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory problems among other complications in employees and tenants. If you find mold formations in any of your structures, you must deal with the problem as soon as possible.
Always check your buildings after a storm. The roof could have a leak, allowing rainwater to seep inside, which could create mold. Regularly check the walls for patches or spots. If you catch a musty odor in your building, it could be an indication of mold.
DIY (Do It Yourself) Clean-Up
If you or a tenant discovers mold inside a building, it’s important to act swiftly. If you plan to remove it yourself, take the following steps.
Identify the source of the moisture. Before you start removing the mold, you must track down the source of the wetness causing it. It could be a leaky roof, busted plumbing or too much humidity in the air. You need to determine where all that excess moisture came from so you can address it and prevent further mold damage.
Remove the mold. Wear protective gear such as rubber gloves, goggles and work clothes that can be dumped into the trash when the job’s done. As for materials, you’re going to need rags, a pail, a scrub brush, non-ammonia soap or detergent, bleach, and an electric fan. Here’s what to do once you’ve gathered it all:
- Dampen the affected area with a wet rag to prevent spores from being dispersed into the air.
- Using the brush and soap/detergent, remove as much mold as you can.
- Once the most visible spots are gone, wet the affected area with a mixture of one and a half cups of bleach in a gallon of water.
- Let the bleach sit for about 15 minutes, then scrub the spot again before rinsing it with clean water. Repeat the bleaching process until there are no more visible traces of mold.
- Turn on the fan to dry the area.
The Pro Solution
DIY mold-removal jobs are only advisable if the affected area is 10 square feet or less. If the infestation occupies a bigger region, call a specialist.
Calling in a pro offers many benefits. First, an expert typically provides inspection services before and after the removal process free of charge. He should make a highly accurate assessment of the extent and nature of the infestation, which will inform what actions he takes to remove the mold and prevent it from returning. A mold-remediation specialist should have the skills, experience and equipment necessary to remove the mold altogether. Once it’s is gone, he’ll repair or replace any damaged parts of your building.
While some self-storage operators will be able tackle minor mold problems on their own, a professional should be called if the infestation is bigger than you can handle. With the specialist’s help, you won’t have to worry about mold at your facility for the foreseeable future.
Judy Olsen is the content-marketing strategist for Phoenix-based ASAP Restoration LLC, which specializes in restoration to damage caused by water, mold, sewage, fire and smoke, storms, flooding, and more. The company also does asbestos removal and testing, leak locating, plumbing, and reconstruction. For more information, call 605.515.7918.