Maybe you’ve noticed the tell-tale signs of a mold infestation at your home of late – black mold popping up on a ceiling tile after a heavy rain, an unpleasant odor in one or more rooms of the house, or mold that stubbornly returns after multiple bleach-and-water treatments.
Mold can damage your home. It can also create a health hazard in your home, especially for the elderly, small children, or those prone to allergic reactions. Thus, ridding your premises of unwanted mold growth is an urgent matter, a true “mold emergency.”
Here are the basics of how to identify a mold emergency in your home and what you can do about it.
Know The Signs Of A Serious Mold Infestation
Anyone can just spot a patch of mold on a wall or ceiling or other location and recognize it for what it is. But it takes a little more know-how and investigative effort to determine how serious of a mold problem you are really dealing with.
Aside from spotting mold, the first warning sign to look for (smell for) is a stale, musty odor. Maybe it’s an odor you are not used to and find unusual. Perhaps, if you simply follow the smell to its source (if possible), it will lead you right to the heart of a hidden mold problem.
The next thing to look for is water – mold needs moisture to grow. Dry mold is dead mold. Do you notice excessive condensation on your window panes? Or maybe you can spot condensed water dripping from a kitchen or bathroom pipe.
It’s possible there is a roof leak in your attic that is causing mold and mildew growth on your attic floor and at all points below (as well as ruining your attic insulation!) Finally, if there are damp areas in your basement or crawl space, that’s another likely place to look for mold.
If you notice paint or wallpaper that is bubbling out or peeling off, check to see if there is mold behind it – caused by water damage. Ceilings, floors, and drywall may show discoloration or warping because of water damage, and where there is water build-up, there may also be mold growth.
Next, see if upon closer examination of all parts of your home you spot any “fur” or “spots” on your walls and at other locations. Realize that some mold blends in well with its surroundings and may not be immediately noticed. Also, small specks of black, green, white, orange, or various other colors could be bits of mold that you have missed.
Realize that mold may be hiding in your HVAC unit or ductwork, under a carpet, behind a picture on the wall, in the attic, behind paint or wallpaper, around windows and doors, and in all kinds of nooks and crannies of your home – so it may take a real investigation to find it sometimes.
The last sign, however, is your own health and that of others living in your home. The presence of mold, even if hidden from sight, can cause sneezing, wheezing, headaches, runny noses, disorientation, and even serious respiratory problems. Black mold is among the worst culprits, but any type of mold growing uncontrollably in your home may be a health hazard.
Know The Initial Steps To Take Against Mold
If you suspect you may have a mold infestation in your home, then the first step is to investigate in the manner already indicated above. There are some other initial steps, too, that you should take if mold is discovered. These include:
- Buy a mold test kit. (They are cheap, readily available, and easy to use.) you want to test to see how toxic the strand of mold in your home really is, to identify the type of mold if possible.
- Record your mold findings. Make a diagram of your house and mark the places where you have discovered mold. Make notes in a small notebook describing the mold, the mold test results, and what moisture source is feeding the mold in each location.
- Put on a mask, plastic gloves, and protective clothing, and attempt to kill mold with a solution of water and bleach, borax, vinegar, or ammonia. NEVER MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA. It is bleach OR ammonia NOT AND. Bleach is the most commonly used method, and it may succeed at killing small patches of mold in the early stages of growth.
- Wait a day or two to see if the mold returns after you remove it and attempt to kill it. Mold that just keeps coming back may require professional mold remediation services.
Also note that an initial DIY approach is appropriate only if you are dealing with smaller amounts of mold in isolated locations. You should call the professionals if you are dealing with extensive mold infestations or with extremely toxic molds like black mold.
Finally, you may do well to take certain steps to prevent mold growth in your home or a return of mold already removed. For example, you could use a dehumidifier in a damp room, replaced single-paned windows with double-paned ones, or insulate exposed metal pipes that tend to gather condensation on them.
How Can Mold Remediation Services Help?
Professional mold remediation and removal services are the ultimate answer to a mold emergency.
There are many methods and many steps involved in finding and killing mold and removing the conditions that are conducive to its regrowth. The mold remediation experts will arrive and begin searching your building for mold from top to bottom.
It’s best to keep pets out in the yard at this time and to remove clutter so it’s easy to access moldy areas. And you may need to clear the driveway so a mold remediation truck can park closer to the house and the mold infestation for easier treatment.
The most common way to kill mold professionally is with some form of biocide. Plastic sheeting, hoses to carry the biocide from truck to mold zones, and workers wearing highly protective attire will be involved. A biocide that is friendly to the environment – but very unfriendly to mold, will be sprayed onto mold-infested sites through the hoses.
Plastic sheeting is used to seal off rooms and areas during the “spray-down” phase. This helps prevent mold spores from spreading during the spray-down and reinfecting adjacent rooms.
Additionally, negative pressure such as a fan blowing out of a window in a mold-infested room can help send any spores that do get loose outdoors. (The AC or HVAC system must be shut down during treatment as well.) Tape may also be used to seal off doors and vents during treatment.
Sometimes, mold has to be scraped off of wood surfaces where the mold roots are deep. There may be pieces of drywall, wood, or other materials that are simply ruined and need to be removed and thrown out. There will be plenty of time to fix everything and renovate after mold remediation is complete, but you can’t retain materials incurably infected by mold.
After giving the biocide a day or more to do its work, the mold remediation and removal team will return. They will remove materials damaged by mold, remove dead mold, take down the plastic sheeting, and do a final clean-up of the premises.
A good mold remediation company will also assure you that you can call them with any questions or concerns later on if need be and give you some helpful advice on how to help prevent the mold from returning.
What To Do After The Mold Emergency Is Over
In some ways, the real work (for the homeowner) begins only after the mold remediation and removal process is complete. You don’t want this to happen again! How can it be prevented?
Of course, there is no 100% for certain way to say that mold cannot possibly return. All you can do is to minimize the risks. Thankfully, there are a number of specific steps homeowners can take that will make a return of mold after mold remediation unlikely.
First of all, keep an eye on areas you know used to have mold. Have some bleach and water in a spray bottle ready just in case you spot some regrowth. Even a very small patch of regrowth should be tackled immediately to ensure it does not spread.
Next, take time to clean off and “de-toxify” your personal belongings following a mold infestation. That means vacuuming, carpet cleaning, wiping down furniture and ceiling fans, cleaning windows and doors, and being keen to eliminate dust since mold spores can be carried by dust particles. It also means cleaning clothes, curtains, toys, and just about anything else that might have gathered some spores.
Vacuuming a room with a HEPA vacuum cleaner is key. You want to go over the room repeatedly and very carefully. And you need to then dispose of the vacuum bag.
If possible, throw out any items you are disposing of due to possible mold contamination directly to the outside through an open window rather than carrying the bag through the house.
Remove The Source Of Mold Growth
Finally, we need to stress that after mold remediation and clean-up, you still have to be careful to eliminate the conditions that gave rise to the mold infestation to begin with.
Moisture, remember, is the fuel on which mold growth thrives. If there was a roof leak behind it all, then you want to get that fixed right away. If a pipe was leaking, you will need to waste no time in contacting a plumber. Installing new vents to increase air ventilation and reduce moisture build-up may be a part of the solution in some cases. Or it could be that a basement or crawlspace needs to be better sealed and dehumidified.
Your mold remediation experts are going to be able to tell you the likely reason why the mold emergency happened in the first place. Be sure to “pick their brains” for information on how to help prevent a recurrence. Some of that work may be things the mold remediation company can take care of for you, such as repairing water damage.
To learn more about how to identify a mold emergency, what initial steps to take to contain it, and what to expect during and after professional mold remediation and removal, contact the “mold experts” at Central Florida Restoration Solutions (CFRS) today! We can give you a free, no-obligation quote or estimate and schedule you for an initial check-up or immediately for full mold remediation and removal services.