A three-year-old, three-story residence hall at a university in the Southeast was plagued by continual high humidity. The school’s engineering and cleaning staff were constantly dealing with the resulting problems, which included condensation and mold growing around the air-conditioning vents that was also beginning to affect the drywall in some areas of the 64-unit building. A previous assessment discovered that the problem was caused by a design flaw in the building’s HVAC system. The university was fortunate to have caught the problem before the mold made anyone sick, and was eager to remedy the problem quickly because of the potential liability it created.
The school’s engineering staff needed to deal with the HVAC design flaw, but they called us to fully remediate any problems the high humidity had caused in the building. Our third-party assessment firm, industrial hygienists who are experts in mold remediation, brought in infrared cameras and moisture meters to identify affected areas and determine the scope of work. Working with school facility maintenance staff, we used graphical layouts to pinpoint areas needing cleaning, repair and repainting.
We took the following steps to solve the client’s problem:
- The work had to take place in the middle of the school year, when the building was occupied with students, so we planned it carefully and scheduled it all to take place over a single weekend (less than 72 hours)
- Brought in large desiccant, a portable unit stationed outside the building that uses the HVAC venting system to introduce dry air into the fresh air supply
- Organized work crews to follow each other in shifts over extended hours each day to complete surface cleaning, drywall patching, and painting to match existing colors
- Instructed our work crews to be sensitive to the residents and minimize disruption as much as possible
- Rather than clearing out occupied spaces, we used plastic containment to protect students’ belongings
When we finished the project, our environmental consultant re-tested the air quality and moisture levels to certify and warranty our work.