Concern: Atholton Elementary School: January 18th, 2024 (CXXAES20240002E2)

Server Room in Media Center
Date of IEQ Report Form
Date of Report
The Office of the Environment was verbally made aware of visible suspect mold growth in the server room while onsite performing another task.
IEQ Investigation Process

Identify deficiencies that may impact IEQ and/or sources of odor concerns. Typically includes the following depending on the nature of concern, but not limited to:

  • interview/questionnaire of concern individual(s)
  • inspection above drop ceiling (condition of roof deck, pipe insulation, return air plenum)
  • inspection of ventilation system (operation of variable air volume box and outdoor air dampers, check controls, measurements of carbon dioxide, temperature and relative humidity, sources near outdoor air intake, measure return and supply air volume, cleanliness of coils, liner and condensate pan)
  • inspection of exterior
  • inspection below drop ceiling (housekeeping, sink and floor drain traps, signs of past and present moisture concern via visual and/or moisture meter, mold growth, ensure connection of current and capping of abandoned sanitary vents, odorizers, excessive plants and fabric items, identify potential pathways, and measure volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and lighting)

Date(s) of Assessment: December 12 and 18, 2023

Mold growth was confirmed within the server room (adjoining the media center). The impact totaled approximately two square feet, impacting the bottom portion of the drywall located at the entry door, and behind a server. 

Closer assessment indicated that the growth was more "surficial" possibly due to condensation or elevated humidity. No elevated moisture was detected in the drywall. 

Various areas above the drop-ceiling were assessed for evidence of a leak. No obvious indications of a leak were observed. 

The room contains a wall-mounted Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) unit that is used to cool the space. Building Maintenance assessed the unit and did not identify any deficiencies such as over-cooling that would have contributed to the growth.

It is possible that the server room door was left open during the summer. The differing environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity) between the server room and media center may have caused condensation to form  on the drywall. It is also possible that the air flow from the HVAC unit (cooling) impacting the wall (warm from the nearby server) may have also caused condensation to form. The temperature the HVAC unit was discharging over the Summer cannot be determined. 

It should also be noted that the Office of the Environment assessed a situation last summer due to concerns with elevated relative humidity (see IEQ Concern CXXAES202300028E). It was found that the chiller had gone into a alarm during the June 2023 assessment (since repaired). The chiller malfunction/elevated relative humidity in other parts of the school may also have contributed to substantially different  environment conditions between the media center and the network closet, as the network closet's wall mounted unit is not dependent on the chiller. These differing conditions could also have caused condensation to form. 

The easily accessible impact was able to be cleaned/disinfected upon discovery.  However, the impacted area behind the server would need some specialized tools to perform the cleaning without moving/disrupting the server. 

Corrective Actions
December 18th, 2023

A cause was not identified, however it is believed to be have been associated with the historic chiller issue described. The Office of the Environment recommends the media center be checked over the summer to ensure the door is closed.

December 18th, 2023

The wall-mounted unit was checked for proper operation, particularly over-cooling. No concerns with the unit were identified and the unit was providing proper temperature (not over-cooling). The discharge temperature during the summer (when the event likely occurred) cannot be determined.

The Office of the Environment will investigate the area during the Summer of 2024 in an attempt to determine the cause.  

January 4th, 2024

A board-approved restoration contractor cleaned/disinfectant impacted areas using an extension pole. Impacted areas were then encapsulated. 

Tracking Number