It is estimated that 70% of homes in the U.S. have mold behind the walls. This expert advice can help you find out if you have mold, teach you how to prevent it from invading your home, and guide you through the cleanup and removal process.
- hire separate companies to do mold testing and mold remediation
- figure out whether you can clean the mold yourself
- use and clean household fans and exhausts to prevent mold growth
- have proper documentation that your mold problem was properly remediated for insurance purposes
- clean your gutters
- assume that once mold is remediated, it’s gone and won’t come back
- hire an uncertified mold inspector or remediation company
- assume you have a cold – it may be a mold allergy
- rely on home-test kits – they are not always accurate
- wait – take immediate action
Hiring the same company to do both is a clear conflict of interest. Companies that offer to test and then remediate may offer mold testing on the cheap, but they could plan to make up the difference through remediation services. Without a proper test with state-of-the-art technology, you will not know if mold exists in hidden behind wallboard and in hard to reach places. And, unless the test is performed both before and after remediation, you won't know if the mold is truly gone. So, rather than pay thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation, hire a certified microbial investigator, and not one who both tests and remediates.
If the mold is visible and the area is small enough (less than a 3-ft.-x- 3-ft. square patch), you can probably clean the mold yourself. The Environmental Protection Agency provides information on how to clean mold on your own. If the area is larger than that, you should have an independent testing company assess the area and provide a removal blueprint for a remediation company.
Keeping moisture low in your home helps prevent mold. Dehumidifiers, bathroom exhaust fans, and kitchen range hoods can vastly improve the air you breathe indoors and prevent mold growth, but they also have a downside: if not maintained properly, they can become little mold-producing factories. Clean dehumidifiers monthly, and bathroom and exhaust fans ever 3-months. Also, be sure to leave the bathroom fan on for 30-minutes after you shower or bathe to draw the excess moisture out.
If you had water and mold damage from a storm or hurricane, it is very important to have proof that your home was properly remediated and the mold was removed. Otherwise, if another storm hits and causes new damage, your insurance company may try to say they they already paid out the claim, and that the damage was from a previous storm. Test after the remediation and renovation is done, and make sure you get documentation from a reputable company. This will help you avoid future insurance hassles.
Gutters are a common cause of mold problems. In the fall, leaves wind up in downspouts and gutters, so the chances of mold growth on damp and rotting leaves, and future ice dams in the winter that could cause flooding, become great.
If you have flood damage and remediate too quickly, before the area was completely dry, mold will likely come back. In these cases, remediators sealed up the walls only to trap moisture inside a dark, warm area, where mold thrives. Trust only an independent, Certified Microbial Investigator to tell you where the mold is and when your home is dry enough to fix. Then you can have a contractor come in to fix the damage properly.
Although the mold industry is not regulated in some states, you should hire a company that holds the Certified Microbial Investigator accreditation from the American Council for Accredited Certification. Choose carefully. To find out if the individual or company you want to hire is certified, click here to search for them on the ACAC site.
Mold allergies produce the same symptoms as the common cold; however, they won’t go away with homemade chicken noodle soup. If you feel as though a cold is hanging around a bit too long, make an appointment with an allergist to get tested for a mold allergy. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a mold allergy, but there are ways to reduce the symptoms. While simple over the counter drugs can relieve your pain, it is important to try and avoid mold whenever possible. You may want to have your home tested to see if that is the source.
Home-test kits generally do not measure airborne particles accurately. Heavier mold spores fall out of the air more quickly and therefore are overrepresented in the test. Mold is present in almost every environment, so it’s difficult to determine whether the mold spores you collect are from a dangerous indoor colony or the outside environment. Do-it-yourself mold test kits often cause people to make uninformed decisions. Property owners often do too little or too much based on these results.
Mold can begin to grow within 24-48 hours. If you have a water incident in your home, take action immediately. Mop, vacuum, or pump water out of the affected area as soon as possible. Remove wet items and materials. Dry out residual moisture that is left in concrete, wood, and other materials. You can use a dehumidifier or ventilation. If basement or attic windows open, mount fans in the openings. Unplug electrical devices and turn off the circuit breakers in the wet area, if possible. Some items, once wet, should be thrown away, including cosmetics, medical supplies, stuffed animals, and baby toys. Toss out materials that can’t be dried within 24 hours, such as mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, and items containing paper, including wallboard. Once the area is dry, bring in dehumidifiers and large fans to remove any excess moisture. Finally, have your home tested for mold by an accredited inspection company.
Mold is a common problem in many homes, and can cause serious health problems. These expert tips can help you to prevent mold before it happens, and guide you through what you should do if your home has been flooded or is already contaminated with mold.