If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel that had a strange smell or felt extremely humid and damp, there is a chance the the room you were staying in had a hotel mold problem. Most of us that do a fair bit of traveling will probably say they can relate to the above statements. While the above symptoms are usually found at your lower grade hotels where the management neglects care, it is not uncommon for issues like this to happen at even the 5 star end of the spectrum for various reasons.
We’re going to start by addressing the most common causes for problems with mold in Hotels:
Changes in Climate
The first cause of a mold problem within a hotel room is due to drastic changes in the indoor environment. Typically a building is kept at a certain temperature. Think about your own home, it is probably set at a certain degree and you rarely change it except for changes in seasons or when conditions are perfect outside that you don’t use your HVAC at all. A hotel room is CONSTANTLY changing temperatures for various reasons. You have people come in and blast the Air conditioning because it is not they’re extra cost. Others are fluctuating temperature simply because there is not an exact degree to set it on and they are unfamiliar with the adjustments they are making will do. Finally, many of these rooms sit vacant and staff are instructed to turn off units to save on costs. These drastic changes in temperature can lead to mold growth by creating condensation. Condensation on building materials and organic nutrients such as drywall and wood creates the possibility for mold growth.
Next, is the all too common application of wallpaper on an opposing exterior wall. These walls are constantly undergoing temperature change as the outside environment changes. Having wallpaper cover the interior of these walls prevents the wall from “breathing” and adjusting temperature properly. This can also create and trap condensation in between the drywall and wall paper. The fact that there is glue holding wallpaper to the drywall does not help the situation, just another nutrient for mold to grow. Whenever we inspect hotels, this is a VERY common problem that we come across.
Just as with any other large building, the presence of big water mains throughout creates the potential for problems. One leak or malfunction could create a problem for an entire section of the building. These problems are usually pretty obvious. Other than big leaks, the only other issue is when a pipe is not properly insulated upon installation or that insulation is failing. Pipe can “sweat” and when not insulated that can lead to excessive moisture in the walls surrounding it. Problems like this can cause serious mold growth.
Obviously water damage is another problem that can give hotels problems with mold growth. Flooding, roof leaks, window leaks, and pipe bursts/leaks can all cause serious water damage that can lead to mold growth. A professional water damage restoration should always be used in a hotel that is suppose to care for numerous patrons. They should have the proper skills and equipment to handle the water damage properly and dry everything before growth can begin. This is especially important because most hotels have carpet. Carpet is extremely susceptible to mold growth as it is a very porous material, as is the padding underneath. Whenever there is a water damage, you should trust the professional’s opinion on whether or not the carpet can be salvaged or not.
Other circumstances can contribute to the problem and lack of attention about mold issues at a hotel.
Believe it or not, the constant cleaning that takes place at a hotel can actually contribute to a mold problem at a hotel. The visual appearance of a mold problem can sometimes be covered up by a simple cleaning. Since hotel rooms are cleaned almost daily, a staff member may think they are just doing their job by cleaning mold regularly and not reporting it. While this might help the visual appearance of the room, the indoor air quality is still suffering and only getting worse the longer the problem exists. Hotel staff should be educated on things to look for in terms of mold growth so they can inform management who can then address the situation properly.
Since people are usually only in hotel rooms for a couple of days, they often put up with conditions that seem less than ordinary when they normally wouldn’t. If you are staying at a hotel and feel that there is a problem, do not accept it. Ask to be switched rooms and suggest the possibility of a mold problem so it can be fixed prior to the next patron entering.
Unfortunately, some management would rather not deal with problems like this properly in an effort to maximize profits. So even if you are in the above situation and do get switched rooms they might not even go look at the room you were in previously to see if there was any merit to your complaints. Some hotels even go to extreme measures to cover up problems they know that are there by cleaning and/or painting over issues. Others try to fix problems on their own but are unaware of steps that need to be taken to clean the air and return it to normal.
Whether you are associated with hotel management/ownership or are simply a frequent hotel user, we hope this article has enlightened you about issues from mold in hotels. An inspection of a hotel is quite different than that of a normal home inspection and should only be trusted to someone with experience in doing so. Adam Pacha, the owner of MI&T has extensive knowledge and experience with hotel mold inspections. If you find yourself in a situation like this, please give us a call at 855-600-6653 and ask to speak with him.