Mold is a type of fungus that can grow and spread in the form of tiny spores. Mold spores can thrive in virtually any indoor or outdoor environment under the right conditions. It is extraordinarily common in nature, and is most prevalent in humid places, such as most of Florida.
Mold spores are present in the outside air in great abundance. However, we are not usually aware of them. If a disaster strikes and introduces moisture to an indoor environment, mold can proliferate extremely quickly. You may then find black, white, orange, green, or purple mold splotches in affected areas.
In small amounts, mold is harmless. However, it may only take a few days of untreated water accumulation for mold to grow in detectable amounts in the home. Mold comes in various types. It is not safe to breathe in mold spores in large amounts, and some types of mold can cause serious harm very quickly.
What Are The Dangers of Mold?
Mold is one of the main forms of indoor air pollution. According to research from the EPA, indoor air can be much more polluted than outdoor air. Most cases of severe mold damage happen after a major rainstorm or a hurricane. Florida homeowners living inland are at substantial risk of mold damage.
Mold is such a serious problem partly because it can go unnoticed for a very long time, long enough for it to spread all through a structure. Outside of Florida, mold damage is often noticeable in the basement. Most Florida homes have no basement, and signs that mold damage is spreading through the walls can be difficult to spot.
Mold damage can be associated with significant health issues:
- Allergy-like symptoms including stuffiness, wheezing, and red, watery eyes
- Coughing, which may be transient or chronic, not caused by underlying disease
- Shortness of breath
Children and elders are generally more vulnerable to mold than others. That said, mold can affect anyone. For people with asthma or other respiratory issues, the body’s response to mold can be very severe. People with a compromised immune system are also at risk.
Toxic Black Mold: The Most Dangerous Kind of Mold
While there are many types of mold that are black in color, toxic black mold refers to stachybotrys chartarum, a specific type of grayish-black mold that can grow in cellulose-rich building materials when water damage has taken place. Fiberboard, which is very common in Florida homes, is particularly vulnerable.
Recently, scientists have raised the alarm about the possibility toxic black mold can cause serious cardiovascular symptoms in infants. Black mold poisoning can cause chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation of the mucous membranes, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Prolonged exposure can lead to internal bleeding.
Toxic black mold is serious enough that businesses where it is found must temporarily suspend their operations pending mold remediation. Likewise, it is usually impossible to sell a Florida home with an active black mold infestation because lenders will not finalize a mortgage loan to use in purchasing the home until it is safe.
Although the link between toxic black mold and the most serious vascular symptoms is not verified, it is crucial to get black mold damage repaired as soon as possible. Black mold grows very quickly and has been reported as particularly easy to smell. If you discover black mold, odds are good the problem is already very widespread.
If you discover black mold, don’t try to remove it yourself using bleach or any other household chemical. Black mold releases its spores when disturbed. Heavy exposure within a brief period of time can cause acute mold toxicity that may require emergency medical care. Always call a mold damage expert for professional help.
Mold and Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome is the name given to a collection of health symptoms that can strike the inhabitants of a building even though they do not share any underlying disease or disorder. In most cases, this consists of respiratory complaints, headaches, and sinus issues. A low-grade fever may also be present.
Although it is most common in apartment buildings and large office complexes, Sick Building Syndrome can also strike in Florida homes. The presence of mold is a major aggravating factor known to be associated with many Sick Building Syndrome cases, although some cases remain unsolved.
The cornerstone of Sick Building Syndrome is that the sufferer’s symptoms clear up within a short time after leaving the building. Floridians who commute to work might therefore experience symptoms when they get up in the morning, feel better by the time they reach the workplace, then get symptoms again at night.
While Sick Building Syndrome is a complex issue, mold damage can undeniably make it worse. In businesses, SBS is associated with a long-term pattern of elevated absenteeism and sick days.
Mold damage and water damage combine to produce a substantial amount of indoor air pollution. In an older Florida structure where ductwork is relatively narrow, the duct system and any filters inside of it can become overwhelmed. In effect, you would be breathing in polluted air within a very short time.
The best way to stop Sick Building Syndrome in Florida is to talk to an expert on mold damage. Mold damage remediation will eliminate the source of the infestation. If you believe that you are experiencing health issues as a result of mold damage, your insurer may be willing to cover additional repair costs for your building.
Once mold damage remediation is complete, many Floridians report a complete cessation of symptoms. If you are still concerned about indoor air pollution, it is a wise idea to talk to a HVAC technician about your heating and cooling system and get professional maintenance on the filters that keep your system clean.
Detecting Mold Damage In A Florida Home Or Business
Mold damage is not always easy to spot. In certain instances, mold could spread for weeks or months before you become aware of it. Luckily, mold damage often appears in visible areas where leaks have caused water damage. More rarely, you might smell mold damage if mold spores have grown within your walls.
If you smell or see mold, it is critical to get advice from a mold damage remediation expert right away.
The ability of mold to grow in a Florida home cannot be overstated. Waiting even a few more days can lead to a much more intensive and time-consuming mold remediation process. During that time, you and your family will be exposed to a greater quantity of mold and could experience worrying health complications.
Plus, it may be the difference between paying a few hundred dollars versus tens of thousands.
Whether you have noticed mold or are testing for mold as a precaution after a storm, the mold testing process remains the same. Special testing kits are used to determine the type and concentration of mold in the air. This can let you know approximately how severe the infestation is and what precautions you should take.
This is known as air sampling, and uses professional kits that are very precise. Don’t be misled into buying home mold testing kits: They are extremely inaccurate and some may not work at all. Whether you end up with a false positive or a false negative, the information from a home mold testing kit cannot be trusted.
There are three reasons that professional mold testing is superior to a home mold testing kit:
- A professional testing kit ensures you have a statistically significant sample of air to use
- Professional testing is sensitive enough to confirm the presence of dead mold spores
- It delivers a reading for baseline mold in your home to compare to non-infected homes
If an area of mold has already been found, then further investigation determines what to do next. It may be necessary to cut into a wall around a mold damaged area to measure the extent of mold penetration. There are also common hot spots for mold, such as the attic, which should always be checked out.
When your mold damage remediation pros reach the scene, they will ask you a number of questions:
- Have you experienced a major weather event like a rainstorm or a tornado?
- Have you noticed any visible signs of mold anywhere throughout the house?
- Are there any odd, unusual smells in the home and when did they begin?
- Has anyone in the home experienced any unusual respiratory symptoms?
The goal of mold damage remediation is to protect the homeowner and family and eliminate the mold threat completely. That can be as simple as removing and cleaning carpet, but it often means that demolition and rebuilding will be required. Walls are weakened by the presence of mold and need to be reinforced.
Mold damage remediation always depends on the specific home, its materials, and the extent of the damage.
How Is Mold Damage Fixed In A Home Or Business?
Fixing mold damage is a comprehensive process that should always be handled by a qualified expert.
A standard mold damage remediation process includes:
1. Removal Of Mold-Infested Materials
All mold-infested materials must be removed from the property to ensure that the full infestation can be rooted out. In Florida homes, this can mean hundreds of square feet of carpeting. Once removed, these materials can often be salvaged through a complete disinfection process.
2. Cleaning And Disinfecting The Premises
Once all affected personal property has been removed, every floor, wall, and ceiling must be completely cleaned. Carpets and other flooring as well as upholstery not directly affected by mold should also be cleaned at the same time. In effect, the home must be scoured from top to bottom.
3. Removing Drywall As Necessary
Mold is a devious intruder that can spread almost unhindered through the interior spaces in walls. In many cases of flooding and other serious water damage, drywall and studs must be removed to facilitate cleaning. This adds greatly to the project timeline, so expert know-how is imperative.
4. Vacuuming And Filtering
Mold spores can be extremely tiny, comparable in size to a bacterial particle or a virus. Vacuuming is done all throughout the property with advanced HEPA air filtration. HEPA filters meet the highest standards for use in hospitals and other demanding environments, capturing even the smallest particles.
When drywall needs to be removed for mold damage remediation, reconstruction is essential. Remember that not all general contractors are qualified to manage reconstruction after mold damage remediation. Be sure you are working with full service mold damage pros who can support you through every part of the process.
6. Verification For Businesses
Businesses may need to take extra steps for verification that their mold problems have been resolved. This is especially true of restaurants and hospitality properties. Standards may differ by community. We will help you meet your local requirements whenever possible.
Will You Need To Relocate During The Mold Damage Remediation Process?
Whether or not you will need to relocate depends on your needs and the state of your property.
If damage is confined to just one area of the home, it is often possible to adjust your daily routines and stay in your home for the duration of your mold damage process. Bear in mind, however, that your mold remediation team may discover that the damage extends far beyond the initial trouble zone.
If you have already experienced symptoms related to mold exposure or a member of your household is at an elevated risk, then it may be wise to live elsewhere for a few days while cleaning is underway. Mold damage professionals always wear Personal Protective Equipment to reduce their own risk of exposure.
One reason to choose an experienced mold damage remediation team is so you have a concrete idea of just how long the process will take. Knowing precisely what a property will need takes hundreds of successful projects. Many customers are able to temporarily relocate with family members or use a hotel.
Will Your Homeowner’s Insurance Pay For Your Mold Damage Remediation?
The answer is often “yes,” but there are several caveats.
In general, mold damage remediation can be covered by your insurance if the damage occurred as the result of a natural disaster that is already covered by your insurance policy. Remember that damage from wind and rain are treated separately from flood damage, and you may need multiple policies to be current.
Mold damage remediation is not covered in the event that it arose from neglect or missed maintenance.
Consult your homeowner’s insurance policy documents for more information on your situation, and contact your insurer directly if you need clarification. Always choose a mold damage remediation company that is local to your area and understands how to work within the requirements of Florida insurance.
Choosing The Right Mold Damage Remediation Company To Meet Your Needs
Not all building professionals can handle mold damage remediation. It takes special skills, equipment, and training to manage mold remediation from start to finish in a way that eliminates risks of a follow-on infection. Mold investigation credentials from a recognized organization like the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the American Council for Accredited Certification are an absolute must.
Central Florida Restoration Solutions holds 18 industry certifications and delivers 25 years of experience.
Our standard mold damage remediation process includes identification, removal of damaged materials, water mitigation, and repair recommendations for kitchen mold, utility room mold, garage mold, laundry room mold, bathroom mold, bedroom mold, ceiling mold, and closet mold, among others.
CFRS serves six Florida communities including DeBary, Deltona, and parts of Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Winter Springs, Casselberry, and Orlando. We know the ins and outs of Florida homeowner’s insurance, but we are not bound to any one insurance company.
That means we are not restricted in the services we offer and can always take the time to do the job right.
The sooner you get started with mold damage remediation, the better for you and those who depend on you. With Central Florida Restoration Solutions, you rest easy knowing the job is done right the first time.
To learn more or schedule remediation, contact us.