Mold is the single most common and nefarious byproduct of water damage. Usually appearing within a couple of days following a water damage event, mold establishes quickly, spreads rapidly, and can prove extremely difficult to remove. Growths that are removed incorrectly and without the correct protocols all too often reappear in a short amount of time.
Everyone knows that mold is nature’s decomposer and therefore exists outside in nature on plants and in dirt decomposing materials and returning their nutrients to the soil. Mold, however, in enclosed spaces can be dangerous to your health, as exposure to high concentrated levels of mold spores may cause health problems ranging from allergic reactions to neurological disorders and lung disease. It is therefore important to call in professional help to deal with the occurrences of mold in your home or business. Mold does not belong in buildings and should be removed as soon as it’s spotted.
The two most common questions I get asked when showing up to a mold job for an estimate are:
- Is this the black toxic mold? My answer to that is always the same. Mold appears in many colors (I’ve seen pink mold before), and there are thousands of species of black mold and some are toxic while some aren’t. If you want to know the exact kind of mold you will need to send a sample to a lab. Fortunately a mold remediation company needs to treat all molds the same and remove them from the building completely.
- Can you spray this mold and kill it or wipe it with something? Unfortunately once mold is growing on drywall it needs to be cut out and replaced under strict remediation conditions. According to the EPA dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed. Anyone that claims to be able to just spray it with something or wipe it down is not following the IICRC S520 standards of care which provide strict guidelines for mold remediation companies. I would serious question their credentials and training.
When mold removal professionals arrive at your home, they will be dressed to the nines, utilizing protective clothing, boots, gloves, and respirators designed to filter out and prevent inhalation of mold spores. Don’t panic when you see these suits; it does not necessarily mean that you are dealing with black or toxic mold. It’s just standard procedure for mold remediation professionals because they do this for a living and are continually exposed to various molds day in and day out. Prolonged exposure to any species of mold can be very bad for ones health, and the same applies to mold remediation technicians.
They may utilize different types of equipment, such as moisture meters, humidity gauges, and dehumidifiers to handle increased levels of moisture in the affected area. Thermographic or infrared cameras may also be used to double check moisture meter findings and look for other areas that may have previously gone unnoticed.
A professional mold removal company will do their best to keep the rest of your house clean and unaffected by the mold as well as the removal process, laying down plastic sheeting wherever they need to run their hoses and other remediation gear. If the mold affected area is accessible from the outside, then no other areas of your home should be affected.
Typically, the first step in the process is to build containment around the affected area in order to prevent mold spores from escaping while the work commences. Typically the containment is placed under negative pressure by using HEPA filtration devices which are ducted to the outside thus creating negative pressure in the containment and preventing mold spores from escaping into unaffected areas of the building.
All mold residue as well as any permeable or semi-permeable building materials damaged by mold (such as drywall, insulation etc) should be placed in impervious bags or closed containers while still in the containment area. Once the material is bagged, it can be disposed of through conventional means.
On day two (as well as the days that follow), the mold removal company will wipe down the entire affected area and beyond with an antimicrobial approved by the EPA and HEPA vacuum the affected areas. Typically every surface in the containment area will need to wiped down and HEPA vacuumed multiple times on multiple days in order to get it ready for a mold clearance test.
Of course the removal of mold isn’t enough to solve the problem. If the area involved is still moist or humid, mold will eventually return. The area must be appropriately treated in order to prevent that from happening. Once the mold growth is removed, the remaining building materials will need to be cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized. In addition, moisture and humidity levels will need to be brought down significantly.
Some mold remediation companies offer a guarantee that mold wont return to the area, which is complete garbage, because whenever water is reintroduced mold will grow again if it’s not dried out properly. The best a mold remediation company can do it get rid of the mold that’s there now, and get it to pass a mold clearance test (by an independent third party mold tester). Anything more than that is total fabrication and is a ruse to get you to use them instead of the next company. No-one can guarantee that mold wont return because they cant guarantee that you wont have water damage again.
In conclusion, once the source of the moisture has been eliminated and the mold infestation removed, the property should be revisited and then re-evaluated to ensure the mold removal and remediation process was successful. The premises should be free of any moldy smells or visible growth. On some occasions, subsequent treatment may be required.