mold

Mold Removal Pros & Mold Remediation Tips

moldMold is everywhere and causes more health problems than termites, asbestos, carbon monoxide, or radon.  Mold also causes serious damage to buildings. When it comes to protecting your family and your home, preventing mold should be at the top of your list.

According to the EPA, there is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between one third to one half of all U.S. buildings have the damp conditions that facilitate mold growth.

What is Mold?

Mold is a form of fungi, similar to yeast or mushrooms. Mold is a living organism and although harmful, can be beneficial. Penicillin is a type of mold. Mold breaks down dead organic matter and reproduces by releasing tiny spores into the air. In moist areas, the spores grow and spread. While there are hundreds of thousands of mold strains, all require moisture, air, and something to feed on. As mold will always exist outdoors, controlling the moisture inside your home is imperative.

Mold grows on rotting wood, grass, weeds, and compost piles. Similar to termite infestations, it can also grow indoors. Mold can also be found on food or clothing, in bathrooms and attics and damp basements, on carpet, and even inside walls. Mold feeds on the wood in the wall, breaking down the materials as it spreads unseen throughout a home. As the mold digests organic material, it continues to spread and find new food sources.

Spotting visible mold can be easy. It comes in many colors including white, black, green, gray, and brown as spots or discolorations. If the mold invisible, you may not recognize it until late in the process. People often discover mold when there is physical damage to a structure or an increase in musty smells. Sometimes, mold won’t be found until residents experience health problems, possibly too late. When a house or building has an overexposure to moisture, it is imperative to inspect for mold.

Sources of Moisture Overexposure

  • Floods.
  • Roofs or basements that leak.
  • Irrigation or fire sprinklers.
  • Shower or bath water.
  • Sink or sewer overflow.
  • Humidifiers.
  • Plumbing leaks.

Why Mold Is a Problem

There are two main concerns:

1. Health problems. Molds produce allergens that can cause reactions to those who are allergic to it such as sneezing, runny noses, even asthma attacks. Mold can even cause irritation to the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes to those who are not allergic. Certain molds can also release toxins (mycotoxins) that cause more serious problems. According to the Mold Help Organization, exposure to these mycotoxins could cause people to suffer from a myriad of serious symptoms and illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple chemical sensitivity, bleeding lungs and much more (http://www.mold-help.org/content/view/478/).

2. Property damage.  A colony or colonies of m.old can cause severe devastation. According to the EPA website, “If you already have a mold problem – act quickly. Mold damages what it grows on. The longer it grows, the more damage it can cause” (http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldcleanup.html).

Mold causes structural damage because it feeds on and breaks down the organic matter (mostly wood) within the structure. When mold grows in the walls, on insulation or under carpet, the items must be removed. Mold also attaches to personal property. Often the item will have to be destroyed because the mold can’t be completely removed.

How to Deal with Mold Removal

As mold is everywhere, it is impossible to completely avoid all indoor molds. The EPA website states “If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back” (http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldbasics.html).

For small areas, usually a moldy section of 9 to 10 square feet, you can usually clean up the mold. For larger areas, hire a professional mold removal contractor to insure the problem is resolved safely.

If you have a small patch of black, green or gray colored spots, add some 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution.  Place the solution in a clean spray bottle and spray the colored spots. As mold is a living organism, there will be an oxidation process. If  the growth starts to produce white foam, you will know that you are dealing with mold.

For small amounts of mold, use water and detergent to clean the surfaces. Use products approved by the EPA.  Mold  travels easily when disturbed. You can wash away most of the mold but the remainder can release mold spores that find their way to another source of moisture in your home. Worse, the A/C or heating system can spread mold spores to every room in your home.

Educate yourself before hiring a mold removal professional to remove toxic mold. There are no federal, state, or local regulations that govern mold removal professionals. With no standards, there is no way to prove the job was done or done right.  Many mold removal jobs are performed incorrectly, which means the property owner may have residual problems.

Shop around and get references to learn as much as possible about toxic mold and mold removal.  Educate yourself on the basics so you can talk to remediation experts and understand if they really knows what they’re doing.

Mold removal methods vary from company to company. The process can be complex, time consuming and very expensive. Some professionals employ fiber optic technology to look for mold growth within the walls or ceilings before tearing down the drywall.

Check Out Mold Insurance

If you have had a flood or a major water leak, contact your insurance company regarding your mold removal coverage. Insurance companies can place limits on mold removal coverage, keeping caps at $5000 to $10,000. The mold removal process may cost more than repairing the damage. For example, if the roof of a home is dislodged during a storm and causes water damage, the insurance company may offer a lump sum to cover the repairs to the roof, the damage inside, and the mold problem. By accepting their lump sum, you can replace the roof and damage from water, but there may be costs to remove mold days, weeks, or months later.

How to Stop Mold From Coming Back

Once you have removed the entire mold infestation from your property, control moisture levels.

  • If there is a flood, remove the water within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Move wet items to a dry, well-ventilated area or outside to speed up the drying process.
  • Remove drywall up to the water level.
  • Remove carpet as soon as possible.
  • Keep the indoor humidity below 60 percent relative humidity.
  • If moisture collects on windows, walls or water pipes, dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
  • Keep gutters clean and insure water drains work to stop mold from collecting around the foundation.
  • Run or install venting fans in high moisture areas, such as the bathroom.
  • Run a dehumidifier in moist areas, such as a basement or bathroom.
  • Ventilate areas to reduce moisture,  keep the air conditioner on. Position the air conditioning vents away from the condensing surfaces to prevent cold spots where moisture condensation can occur.
  • Add thermal insulation to walls, ceilings, and pipes.

Mold can be a very serious problem and it is important to take care of the problem as soon as possible. While mold remediation can be expensive, mold damage can be even worse. Sometimes it is cheaper to knock down and rebuild an entire house rather than remove the existing mold infestation.

Signs of Mold Growth

    • • Unexplained discoloration on a surface.
    • • Musty or earthy odor.
    • • Dark spots on or around vents.
    • • Water stains.
    • • Peeling or curling of floors or wallpaper.

Hiring A Mold Inspector

Make sure you hire a local mold removal pro to handle even moderate mold remediation problems as soon as possible.   When there are signs of mold growth in your property, contact a professional as soon as possible to avoid future problems or costs. Attack those killer mold spores before your home invasion gets worse.

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