Hotel Mold Problems
In response to a question on mold problems in Florida hotels, mold inspector Daryl Watters says:
I stay in hotels throughout Florida a few times a year. Usually we travel for a mold inspection in Key Largo, Islamorada, Key West, or for mold inspections and testing in one of the other Florida Keys.
Before we travel my wife goes online and picks out a new hotel, typically under 5 years old. She likes new hotels because she knows from experience that they are less likely to be moldy. When staying in such new hotels, we never experience mold problems or mold odor. Some of our favorite new hotels are Country Inn and Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and just about any new hotel.
We have stayed in moldy Florida hotel rooms no less than one-half dozen times. One night in Key Largo, we changed rooms 3 times because of strong mold odors in that key Largo hotel. That building was demolished a few years ago because of mold and roaches and has been replaced with a nice newer hotel building.
Mold can easily occur in any hotel new or old, and in any state, but it very easily grows in older Florida hotels in the hot humid Keys. The reason is at least four fold:
1) Hurricanes and tropical depressions drive rain water into building defects such as cracks on exterior walls and even more often, rain is driven into defective caulking under windows. This causes mold in the walls. we stayed in one hotel in downtown Miami in order to flee a hurricane. We stayed the entire night but the mold odor was quite strong, when I looked at the exterior wall of the building I could see a defect in the exterior wall, similar to a rebar sticking out of the concrete. That defect allowed mold into the perimeter wall and caused mold growth behind the rooms wall paper.
2) Hotels often have thick wall paper on the walls. Thick wall paper traps moisture that enters the walls. Cladosporium mold and Pen Asp mold grows under the wall paper for months or years before it is noticed because the water is trapped behind the thick paper and cannot dry out quick enough.
3) Most hotel rooms have wall mounted ductless AC units that do not appear to be designed in a way that makes access and proper cleaning easy. They do not have good filters, thus mold and dust build up quite easily in these units. I recently inspected two of these AC units in a condo in Lake Worth in Florida. They were both packed full of mold, horrible mold odor, and even numerous tiny mold eating bugs called spring tails.
4) Hotel rooms in South Florida, especially in the Florida keys often experience humidity problems (moist air) that contribute directly to mold growth in the AC units and on walls. In addition humidity deters drying of any leaks in the hotel room.
Such rooms have humidity because they are in a humid state, and because the load of humidity from hotel showers is quite large in comparison to the size of the room itself. In other words, even a fairly large hotel room is too small to properly dissipate and dilute all that steam from the shower. Thus hotel rooms can easily become loaded with shower humidity in the air that does not dry out well before the next shower. I regularly run into this problem when air testing for mold in small humid apartment units and condos in Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Older small Miami and Ft. Lauderdale condos often do not have bathroom ceiling vents, nor do they have the interior space needed to dissipate all that steam from the shower every morning.
Incidentally, moving to a new room in the same building can be a waste of time. I have been there and done that more than once. The reason is because the defects that caused mold in that initial room often exist in other rooms in the same building.