To prevent mold and moisture problems, it’s very important that water-damaged areas and items are dried within 24 to 48 hours.
If you are experiencing mold problems in your home, you should clean and get rid of the mold immediately and fix the water/moisture problem.
The key to controlling mold is controlling moisture.
TESTING OR SAMPLING FOR MOLD
As long as mold growth is visibly present, sampling is not necessary. Sampling cannot be used to check for a building’s compliance with federal mold standards. This is because no federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores. In order to determine if an area has been sufficiently remediated or cleaned of mold growth, surface sampling may be useful. Additionally, mold sampling should only be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in sampling methods, designing mold sampling protocols, and interpreting results. The process of sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the ACGIH, or other professional organizations.Back to Index
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN THE REMEDIATION OR CLEANUP IS FINISHED?
In order for the cleanup or remediation to be considered finished, you must have fixed the moisture or water issue completely.
There should be no moldy odors or visible mold present once you’ve completed mold removal. As mentioned in earlier sections, it is important to note that mold growth may cause staining and surface damage to some items.
The site of water damage or mold growth should be revisited shortly after cleanup. The site should show no signs of mold or water damage. Other people should be able to occupy the site or area with no complaints of physical symptoms or health issues.
Other than the above mentioned scenarios for verifying finished cleanup of mold growth and/or water damage, there is ultimately no easy answer. This is more of a judgement call.Back to Index
MOLD CLEANUP GUIDELINES
1. If you have any items that are expensive or have sentimental value, or if you are unsure of how to go about cleaning an item, you should consult a specialist. Some common specialists listed online are specialists in restoration, rug and carpet cleaning, furniture repair, painting, water damage, and fire or water restoration. It’s important to seek specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations. Also, be sure to check references.
2. It is important to ensure that you are avoiding exposure to mold for both yourself and others. Be sure to check for mold growth on walls before applying paint or caulk. If you notice any mold on the walls, clean it up and dry the area completely before you begin painting. If paint is applied over a moldy surface, it is very likely to peel.
3. Mold growth can fill in crevices and empty spaces of porous materials. Therefore it may be difficult or even impossible to completely remove the mold. If this happens, you may need to throw these porous items away and replace them. Some examples of porous materials are carpet and ceiling tiles.
4. Using detergent and water, scrub all mold growth off of hard surfaces and dry completely.
5. Be sure to fix all plumbing leaks and any other water issues as soon as possible. In addition, completely dry all wet and/or damaged items.Back to Index
1. It’s important to note that you should seek a health professional before even starting the cleanup process if you have any health concerns.
2. If sewage or other contaminated water is the cause of your mold or water damage, it is best to seek a professional. They should have previous experience specifically dealing with damage caused by contaminated water.
3. If there is any suspicion that your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system might be contaminated with mold, do not take any further action. You should first refer to the EPA’s Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?
4. If you decide to have a professional service provider do the mold cleanup, be sure to do your homework. Specifically, ensure that the contractor has a lot of previous experience in cleaning up mold growth. For example, you should check references and ask the professional to follow the guidelines from a professional government organization. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
5. If the mold growth covers more than 10 square feet and/or if there has been extensive water damage, refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. This document is applicable to building types other than commercial buildings and schools.
6. If the moldy area is 10 square feet or less, you should be able to handle the job yourself.Back to Index
WHAT TO WEAR WHEN CLEANING MOLDY AREAS?
Wear goggles. In order to avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes, it is recommended that you wear goggles that do not have ventilation holes.
Wear gloves. When cleaning up mold growth, it is recommended that you wear long gloves that extend to the middle of your forearm. Ordinary household gloves may be used when dealing with water and a mild detergent. Gloves made from rubber, nitrile, neoprene, polyurethane, or PVC should be worn when using a disinfectant, a strong cleaning solution, or a biocide (substances that can destroy living organisms) such as chlorine bleach. You should never touch mold growth with you bare hands.
Avoid breathing in airborne mold. You may wish to wear an N-95 respirator in order to limit your exposure to mold or mold spores. These respirators can be found at many different hardware stores or you can purchase one online. The average cost for an N-95 respirator ranges anywhere from $12 to $25. Not all N-95 respirators look the same; some are made primarily of rubber or plastic and have detachable cartridges that trap many of the mold spores, while others resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front. The respirator must fit properly in order to be effective. Therefore, be sure to follow all instructions carefully. It is important to note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all respirators fit properly when being used in an occupational setting. You can consult OSHA for more information by visiting their website at www.osha.gov or calling them at (800)321-OSHA.Back to Index
WHY IS MOLD GROWING IN MY HOME?
Outside, mold is a natural part of the environment; it breaks down dead biological matter, such as dead trees or fallen leaves. However, mold is not a natural part of our environment indoors and should always be avoided. The reproduction of mold occurs by means of tiny spores that float through outdoor and indoor air. These spores are very small and invisible to the naked eye. When mold spores land on wet surfaces, the growth of mold may begin. Although there are many different types of mold, none of them are able to grow and reproduce without moisture or water.Back to Index
CAN MOLD CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS?
Unless mold spores land on wet or damp surfaces and begin growing, molds are usually not a problem indoors. Once mold spores have begun growing and reproducing in a moist or wet area, there is potential for health concerns. Substances that can cause allergic reactions (known as allergens), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances, can all be produced by molds. People who are sensitive to health issues may have an allergic reaction from inhaling or touching mold spores. These allergic reactions can range from sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Although allergic reactions are common, they can be immediate or delayed. Those with asthma who are allergic to mold may experience asthma attacks when exposed to mold spores. Regardless if you have a mold allergy or not, exposure to mold spores can still cause irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. As a result of inhaling mold, there are no other commonly reported symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types. The research of mold and subsequent health effects is ongoing.Back to Index
HOW DO I GET RID OF MOLD?
Because mold spores are naked to the human eye and float through the air and in dust particles, it is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors. Remember, mold spores will not grow and reproduce if moisture or water is not present. By controlling moisture indoors, you can control and prevent indoor mold growth. If you are experiencing mold growth in your home, you should clean and get rid of the mold and fix the water/moisture problem. If you only clean up the mold but don’t fix the moisture problem, then the mold will most likely return.Back to Index