thinking past mold

I get calls from occupants all the time about dampness and mold growth.  Many times the occupants have contacted code enforcement officials who respond by "we don't inspect for mold".  I see this an issue from both sides. 

1.  how do we get occupants to think past mold to understand the reason is mold growth is present is that materials and contents have been persistently damp and if the problems are beyond the tenant's control frame the problems as maintenance and repairs


2.  how top we get code officials to think past mold and when they recieve these complaints ask a few questions to assess the potential for a code violation to be present

We have a similar issue in NM. Calls come to our dept of health about mold. We give a quick education about mold, but then don't have authority to do inspections.

This is a common issue. Some of this is about educating residents that while mold can't often be addressed through existing housing codes, the underlying issue (moisture, water intrusion), can. Community groups can help here.  Also, I agree that there is more work to be done to support communities in enacting either codes or ordinances that address mold as a concern outright. We are seeing that happen in communities around the country and should do more to learn from their experiences and replicate their successes.

I represent one of those community groups would be happy to help. We have a sister organization in New Mexico

Matt, we state that we don't respond to mold complaints but to the conditions that give rise to mold - heat and moisture.  One jurisdiction requires a property owner to prove that mold doesn't exist rather than requiring the city do do it.

We tell people that most molds are not causes of death or serious illness.  In fact, most come from not cleaning there showers. 

mold in our apartments is driven by high indoor air humidity caused by leaks and poor air conditioning.  In the Inner City Asthma study, mold and cockroach both driven by moisture were the most common allergens.

When I talk to tenants I try to put things in perspective.  I have mold growing in the corner of my shower.  It is growing on coated fiberglass and despite ventilation in my bathroom I can't get the area dry quickly.  My bathroom is also on the North East Corner of my home, a naturally cool area.  Nevertheless I can keep it in control by cleaning.  It is a small area and I clean with damp methods.  There is no health risk


In contrast I get many calls in the summer that my air-conditioner flooded and drywall in moldy.  Most often the reason is the condensate drain pan overflowed.   I occasionally get these calls during extreme cold spells when the condensate drains on high efficiency furnaces freeze up.  In many cases water has wicked up drywall which is now black on the interior paper layer and the painted exterior layer. The drywall may also be soft to touch.   In this case the code violation of in the National Healthy Housing Standard would be in section 2.1 "every ...interior wall.. shall be safe to use, capable of supporting design loads, and shall be in good condition."


In some our our housing codes the requirements for interior walls are :Interior walls of all rooms, closets and hallways shall be finished of suitable materials, which will, by use of reasonable household methods, promote sanitation and cleanliness, and shall be maintained in such a manner so as to enable the occupants to maintain reasonable privacy between various spaces.


Either way, damp moldy drywall has lost structural integrity, will not perform as intended and cannot be cleaned.