Substance: Mold and Mildew
These are three words that no one ever wants to see or hear in Housing, and something UofL pays very close attention to.
Molds are found in virtually every environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and mold and mildew can thrive in warm, humid places. Louisville sees a high humidity point during the warmer months, with an average of 66-69% humidity year-round. Therefore, moisture control, proper use of thermostats to allow for air circulation, and good housekeeping practices are necessary to control mold growth.
How to Prevent Mold and Mildew
General good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down counters, clean up spills, wipe the inside and outside of refrigerators, etc.) should be shared by all roommates to help reduce the potential for mold growth.
To help prevent the growth of mold and mildew in residential spaces, it is essential that resident students do the following:
- Keep windows closed.
- Set thermostats between 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Please note that some buildings’ thermostats are set to provide protections against these substances and cannot be changed below or above a certain temperature.
- In suites and apartments, keep bathroom doors closed while showering.
- Keep air vents unobstructed.
- Hang wet towels or clothing to allow them to dry. Please note that hanging a wet towel that touches a wall can accelerate growth process with these substances. Make sure your wet towels do not come in contact with any porous materials, like walls, as they dry.
- Keep all surfaces, furniture, and clothing dry.
- In suites and apartments, routinely clean bathroom areas to prevent the growth of soap scum or buildup of mildew (Community bathrooms are cleaned daily by maintenance staff).
- Report any water problems (leaks, dripping faucets, wet carpet, drips heard behind the air intake cover, etc.) immediately by submitting a Maintenance Request via the Housing Portal.
- Allow University Housing or its contractors to enter the room to inspect and make necessary repairs.
- Use bathroom fans while showering or bathing, and to report to University Housing of any non-working fan.
- Use exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing or cleaning, and to report to University Housing of any non-working fan.
- Notify University Housing of any problems with the air-conditioning or heating systems.
What To Do If You Suspect Mold, Mildew, or Substances
Students are encouraged to file a Maintenance Request for all maintenance issues, including mold and mildew. In these cases, it is imperative that communication be consistent and clear. Maintaining a satisfactory and healthy indoor environment and good indoor air quality in our highly-variable Kentucky climate requires a joint effort by UofL staff and residence hall residents. No heating or air conditioning system is able to eliminate all pollen, dust and allergens; therefore, certain maintenance and housekeeping practices must be utilized to reduce humid conditions and prevent substance/microbial growth, such as mold and mildew within university buildings. Maintaining cleanliness in the residence hall living environment is essential for healthy air quality because substances grow and thrives in wet or humid conditions, including those created by food or other organic materials containing moisture, wet towels, wet clothing, water intrusion, or spills which are not cleaned up immediately. Substance growth can occur within 24-48 hours of a spill of any liquid or water intrusion, so clean-up of spills or reporting of water intrusion must be done promptly.
University of Louisville Physical Plant will take reasonable steps to see that HVAC systems are operating properly and capable of maintaining temperatures at 73 degrees. Physical Plant will check and perform filter changes in fan coil units at least every 6 months. Physical Plant also will investigate and monitor the mechanical rooms, basements and sub-basements, as well as the underground tunnel system for any moisture concerns bi-weekly. Physical Plant will respond to reports of water leaks and intrusion when notified by the Housing staff.
University of Louisville Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS) will work with Housing and Physical Plant as needed to perform resident and staff interviews and indoor air quality investigations to develop a plan to assist in locating and re-mediating the sources of residents’ IAQ concerns.
Campus Residents' Responsibilities
Follow the 3 Cs: Cleaning, Climate and Communication
Because substances thrive in wet or humid conditions, cleanliness in the residence hall living environment can assist in improving air quality and promoting a healthy and comfortable living environment free of pests and insects. Items such as wet towels or clothing and oils or residue in leftover food containers and spilled drinks can be a medium for substance growth. For these reasons, the following responsibilities have been established for all residence hall residents:
- You are responsible for cleaning your residence hall room or apartment. Maintain your residence in a responsible fashion that does not promote unhealthy conditions for you or your neighbors. Health and safety inspections will be performed randomly by Housing.
- Empty your trash regularly.
- Hang damp or wet towels, bath mats, clothing, or other items immediately and allow items to dry completely to prevent microbial growth and musty odors.
- Clean any spills immediately and thoroughly.
- Vacuum carpet or rugs, sweep floors and dust your room regularly.
- Pets are not allowed in residence halls, with the exception of service or emotional support animals and one fish tank that is less than 10 gallons per residence hall room.
- Food preparation and consumption can attract pests and insects. Avoid leaving open food containers out, seal all containers after use and refrigerate perishable foods. Dispose of used food containers and food scraps regularly to prevent attracting pests and insects and promoting the growth of mold. Keep refrigerators tightly closed.
- Do not allow mildew to accumulate in your baths and shower stalls. Report any substances in baths and kitchens immediately.
- Cleaning of community bathrooms is the responsibility of Housing Custodial Services unless you are otherwise notified. Report any substances immediately through the maintenance system, the front desk staff, your RA or your Hall Director.
Controlling room climate is essential to the success of managing indoor air quality and comfort. Moisture and humidity provide conditions which are favorable for growth of substances. UofL's Physical Plant strives to maintain optimal levels of humidity and temperature. Residence Hall residents are expected to assist Physical Plant with this effort by following the guidelines below:
- If the windows are operable, then it is important to KEEP WINDOWS CLOSED when the air conditioning is running. Some buildings have the resident room windows secured to better control the environmental conditions; do not open secured windows. Tampering with the secured windows and opening them may result in a damages charge. The condensation created during cooling season by open windows (hot air) mixing with conditioned HVAC air (cool air) indoors is capable of creating significant mold and moisture problems within the HVAC system and the residence hall room or apartment.
- Close blinds early in the day to prevent the sun from heating the room. Turn off all lights when leaving the room.
- Do not tamper with the HVAC unit. Contact the Housing Office or a staff member in your hall for assistance with temperature or humidity issues or water intrusion.
- Do not block the HVAC air supply or return air vents or doors where the units are located. Reduced air flow to the HVAC system can result in excess moisture and promote substance growth within the system and residence hall rooms.
- Bathroom exhaust fans should be kept running during and after showering to help remove moisture from the air.
- Use bath mats to help absorb water after showering or bathing.
- Hang damp or wet towels, bath mats and any wet clothing articles to allow for thorough drying after use to prevent substance growth or musty odors. Do not hang damp or wet items over the furniture in the room or closet doors.
- Follow these refrigerator tips:
- Keep refrigerator doors tightly closed. Failure to secure refrigerator doors may result in defrosting of the freezer and may cause leaking onto the floor.
- When defrosting refrigerators, take steps to prevent water from getting onto carpeting, rugs or floors. Clean up spills immediately to prevent water damage or substance growth. Residents may place small refrigerators in the shower areas where there are drains to defrost the freezer as needed as long as it doesn't prevent other students from using the facilities.
- Refrigerators must be emptied of contents and defrosted before leaving for winter break.
- Please note that you will be responsible for correcting conditions within your room or apartments that are designated as your responsibility, and as deemed reasonably necessary. Tampering with units or secured windows or failure to report problems with moisture may result in a residence hall policy violation.
- Communication of any leaks or water intrusion to University Housing staff is required immediately, as it only takes 24-48 hours for substances to grow.
- University Housing staff should always be the initial contact for indoor air quality or water intrusion issues. Water intrusion issues should be reported IMMEDIATELY to your RA (or RA on-call), Hall Director or the main University Housing during business hours.
For non-urgent issues, a maintenance request can be submitted via the Housing Potal.
If you experience an issue after the University Housing office is closed, find the RA on-call in your hall and report it to that staff member. They will report it as an urgent issue for response before the next work day.