Motel Inspection: A Dylan Graves Interview

Hello Fellow Readers, I hope you are having a Fun[gi] Friday!

Today I have another interview by one of our very own employees here at Assured Bio Labs, LLC, Dylan Graves. Dylan is a laboratory technician and an environmental investigator. He successfully completed the Certified Mold Inspector program at the University of Tennessee in 2012. His education coupled with his experience as a microscopist is utilized in on-site commercial, industrial, and residential property inspections.

dylan testing

Dylan prepares to swab a wall for a mold test.

Today Dylan is here to talk about a very interesting inspection he conducted at a local motel in Knoxville, TN. Naturally, one should be curious about this inspection, since motels and hotels are the most common places tourists and families stay in when traveling, and I am here to give you the details of what went down during this inspection.

room 213

Room 213, one of the rooms that were contaminated.

[Read till the very end for some telltale signs on how to avoid staying in a contaminated motel/hotel room.]

A: How many types of mold did you find in the motel?

D: There were a lot of different types. Along with mold, there were mushrooms, and fungal bodies growing. In the areas we tested, we probably only found three or four types of common water intrusion molds, such as Stachybotrys and Aspergillus/Penicillium like molds. We also found Stemonitis, which is a slime mold that feeds on surface bacteria. When Stemonitis is growing you know it is really wet. The mushrooms looked like coprinus or inky caps, and there were wood rot mushrooms present too.

stemonitis

Stemonitis mold growing on ceiling.

A: What molds were the most prevalent?

D: The water intrusion-type molds; elevations of Aspergillus/Penicillium like molds and Stachybotrys.

A: Approximately how many motel rooms were affected?

D: There was no way to know, because were not allowed access to most of the rooms. What had happened was it started out as a roof leak that affected rooms on the second level and whenever that occurred, they would close the rooms that were affected and paint over the water damage, a really terrible idea. It was a two-story motel, and rain water destroyed the floor on the second level, then eventually reached the first level.

A: Do you think that unaffected rooms near affected rooms are in danger of cross contamination?

D: Yes. Although we were not able to test, they were very likely to be cross-contaminated. We saw people in the rooms next door to the rooms that were contaminated. They really didn’t know if something bad was possibly going on in there. We were not allowed to check every single room, only the ones they let us in, which was a suspicious indicator that something was wrong. We were allowed to check maybe a dozen out of approximately fifty rooms, maybe more.

moldy chair

Surface mold growth on chair due to moist environment.

A: Were there a lot of people staying in the motel?

D: A lot of the people that we saw were members of the family that owned the motel that stayed in the first floor rooms. There were other families with children who were maybe traveling, as well as transients. It was a pretty bad motel; they weren’t charging that much for a night’s stay. They did not provide any warnings to thepeople that stayed there.

A: How did the motel owners respond to the reports?

D: They pretended like they didn’t see them. I imagine the construction company that was hired to fix the problems didn’t fix them correctly either. You can imagine that wooden materials with water damage would begin to rot, even if you put new carpet and paint over it. Usually the industry standard for a water intrusion is if you dry the wood within 72 hours, you’re pretty good shape. In this case, the water intrusion was ongoing and allowed for rotting to take place and required much more than just ripping out carpet and replacing the drywall. You would have to get into the structure to fix that. In most cases, the longer you let a water issue go, the more in-depth the cleaning will be. There are varying circumstances such as humidity that also contribute to it.

water damage test

Swab testing a water intrusion damaged ceiling for mold.

A: Would you stay in the motel?

D: No. I would rather sleep under a bridge rather than staying in that motel [laughs]. Granted it was a $40-$50 a night motel, it would be a pretty obvious choice. We went in some rooms that had not been affected (didn’t have the ceiling falling in) and they still had surface mold growth, so I would probably be able to tell. It had a musty smell to it, much like a damp basement.

moldy drawer bible

Surface mold growth on nightstand drawer.

A: What advice would you give to people on how to tell what the first signs of a not-so-ideal motel to stay in are?

D: Much like a home inspection, you can’t have mold without water. So they should check under the sink, around the bathtub, wet carpet near the air conditioner, noticeable odors, or any visible surface growth. Rippled, bubbled wallpaper or paint is an indicator of water leaking behind the wall. These are the first things I would look for when staying in a motel.

air conditioner

Water damage near air conditioner.

Until the next inspection,

Angela

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