Do you have a SERIOUS mold problem, that may need Mold Remediation?
Then you're in the right place.
There is a dark side to the mold industry that you simply have to know...
or you may find yourself in thousands of dollars of debt...
or even with a worse mold problem than you originally had!
In today's post I'm going to teach you everything you need to know, before deciding if your mold problem requires a Mold Remediation Expert.
I'll even show you a few tips if you feel brave enough to do it on your own.
Let's do this!
When referring to a mold removal company and a mold remediation company, both of these terms are used interchangeably.
If we are getting technical...
They are not the same thing.
Mold removal is just one part of the whole remediation process. Not all mold remediation projects will require mold removal as it may involve sanitizing the home only.
As you will learn, later on, the mold remediation process has many moving parts. You may also read terms such as mold extraction or mold abatement. These are other synonyms for mold remediation.
Don't worry if this is confusing. It will all make sense after this guide.
People can really freak out when they hear that four letter "M" word, but the truth is people tend to make more of it than there needs to be.
I am not insinuating that mold can't be dangerous because it absolutely can.
There is usually some mold spores present in most indoor building environments, especially if you live in an area that is hot and humid.
Depending upon when mold remediation is necessary may vary from person to person. If somebody has an auto-immune disease or an allergy to a particular species of mold, the home will need to be as close to mold-free as possible. Simple issues that don't affect the normal person may harm them and sanitization may be necessary for the home.
When the mold is just on the surface, depending on the root cause, it can usually be cleaned by you rather than removed.
For example, below is a picture of surface mold on the top of a closet wall:
This mold as you can probably guess is on the surface.
The key thing that you need to know about surface mold is that this type of mold is not using the wall as a food source.
Mold is just kind of "chilling" on the wall. It can easily be cleaned.
Here is something that will also completely blow your mind that no other mold professional will tell you...
You MAY NOT have to clean it!
I know it sounds crazy, you have mold on the wall and you can just leave it there.
But here's the thing:
That mold is likely not airborne and will generally not hurt you.
I'm not saying that you should leave it there either...
Who wants mold on their closet wall?
Nobody of course!
The point I am trying make is that mold remediation is not always necessary. A simple wipe down can be sufficient if there is a surface mold.
Mold remediation is necessary when:
Mold is using building material as a food source or the air quality in the home is negatively affected!
This is one of the most commonly asked questions that I receive.
It would be completely irresponsible for me to answer that question without visiting your property.
According to HomeAdvisor however, the National Average is $2,240.
According to Improvenet.com: The cost to remove mold varies greatly from building to building, but most homeowners pay between $1,111 and $3,211. A minor infestation costsas little as $400 for a professional to remediate and a major problem costs as much as $10,000 or more. In some cases, you can eliminate the early stages of a mold infestation with a commercial fungicide and cleaning supplies.
I can, however, give you guidelines that you can follow with tips to see if you are getting ripped off or not.
If done correctly, mold remediation can ensure all mold is either removed or contained.
There is one thing that many homeowners obsess with during the mold remediation process:
Sorry to burst your bubble here, but killing mold is not all that important. Besides the fact, the mold may already be dead!
Let me explain:
Mold can harm you whether it's living or dead.
As a matter of fact, in some cases, dead mold spores may make your sick more than living mold spores.
Remember, you need three elements for mold to grow:
If you take any one of those three elements out, mold will stop growing
AKA become dormant mold.
For example, let's say you have a leak in your kitchen behind the dishwasher.
While the leak is active, the mold spores growing on the wall behind the dishwasher are wet and heavy. Because of this reason, the mold spores may not be airborne as much.
Once the area is dried out, the mold spores are no longer wet, and no longer heavy...
That means, yes, they can now become more airborne!
When breathing in mold spores, your body cannot distinguish the difference between living or dead mold spores.
The dead mold spores affect humans just as much.
Killing mold is not the answer! Proper mold remediation is.
Let me ask you, would you want to be breathing in this?
The mold industry is broken down into two separate sectors. You have the mold remediation companies and you have the mold assessors which can also be referred to as mold inspectors.
The mold inspectors are the ones that originally should be called out to the home to investigate any suspicions you may have about having mold in your home.
They are also qualified to take air and surface samples to confirm that you have a mold problem.
A mold inspector will write the protocol of the remediation work that needs to be done.
When having the original mold assessment, it should never be done by the company that performs the remediation.
In certain states, it's actually a law that a company can't do both on the same project. Having a company that does both at the same job site gives the remediation company a license to scam you out of money and completely exaggerate the extent of mold damage.
You can hire a mold assessor to not only perform the original inspection but to be a consultant to you through the remediation process and ensure the work has been done correctly after remediation. This may cost you some money but can save you THOUSANDS in the long run.
It's ok to take recommendations from your mold inspector for mold remediation companies, however, you should always ask for three. Make sure the inspector has no affiliation with any of the companies or tries to sway you in the direction of one particular company.
While it is recommended that you should hire a mold inspection professional to check your home for mold, it is not free.
If you have financial restrictions, your only choice may be checking the home for mold yourself.
There are two main things you should be looking for:
Problem is: You may not always be able to see mold or water damage.
Look around all doors, windows, under and around plumbing fixtures, on all ceilings, etc.
Do you see any staining?
Is paint starting to peel or bubble?
These are some of the questions that you should be asking yourself.
If you can't find anything, it's a step in the right direction but you are not out of the clear just yet.
To check for hidden moisture I recommend using a moisture meter and checking around the same areas. If you are detecting moisture it could mean a leak.
Just because you detected some moisture, does it mean you have mold?
Maybe, maybe not...
Does it mean you have a mold problem? Not necessarily.
Stopping the cause of the leak needs to be a priority, yes, but what you should be concerned with is if the leak is affecting the air quality within the home.
I know you are probably scratching your head right now thinking " how the heck can I do that?"
Don't worry, I got you covered.
An inexpensive option is getting yourself a My Mold Detective Kit. You can check out my full review of the kit by clicking here.
The air sampling pump does the same exact thing that a licensed professional's pump will do for a fraction of the cost.
Once you send in your samples you will receive an easy to read mold report which will tell you if mold is airborne throughout the sampled areas of the home.
Emergency water damage restoration can be a precursor for mold remediation. I would call it a sister industry to mold remediation. Some companies just do the emergency dry-outs and some mold abatement companies do both.
Nothing can be quite as stressful as having a flood in your home due to a water leak.
Having a big leak is usually a surprise...
Everything is soaked, wood is expanding, you're concerned about mold, it's just a messy situation.
But here's the thing:
If you catch the leak early enough, you can dramatically decrease your chances of having to need mold damage restoration.
Timing is everything.
For example, if you go away on vacation and come home to your home looking like this:
It's too late...
However, let's say you wake up in the morning and find water on the ground of your home due to a water leak that happened three hours earlier, how quickly you act will be crucial.
As stated above, there are companies that specialize in drying everything out to prevent mold. These companies services are referred to as:
Water Damage Restoration
Usually with the word "emergency" in the name because when you get a leak, well, it's usually an emergency! These terms are all used interchangeably. You may find these companies a few different ways...
Your first phone call should probably be your insurance company. These services are usually covered by your homeowner's insurance company but that is no sure thing.
Insurance may send somebody out there, or they may direct you to find your own vendor.
They may not be reachable if it's outside of normal business hours.
Emergency restoration companies are generally 24 hours.
Remember, in all likelihood, a leak that causes a flood in your home will be covered by insurance. If you can, get an emergency disaster services company out to your home immediately.
Before you start attempting to dry a water damaged area out by yourself, you need to know when the leak occurred. If the answer to that is,
"I don't know"
It is absolutely recommended that you call an emergency restoration professional because you can make the problem much worse if mold growth is starting to form.
While this isn't a rule of thumb, I recommend that if you are going to attempt to dry the area out yourself, the leak should have occurred within 24 hours. Anything more than that you should not attempt to dry the area out by yourself unless you're a trained professional.
Once you notice a leak, you should dry and attempt to turn off the breaker in the affected area so no electrical equipment gets wet.
Your plan of attack in drying an area out will largely depend on where in the home and what is the cause of the leak. Before you dry anything out, you must correct whatever is causing the leak is or else you are wasting your time.
Plumbing Leak For a plumbing leak ensure that your water main is shut off in your home
One thing about water that you have to understand...
It has a mind of its own!
Water is going to follow the least resistant path. Just because you can't see areas along the walls that are wet, does not mean they aren't.
A moisture meter and possibly infrared camera are going to be necessary to determine the areas that need to be dried out. For ceilings, you don't have much of a choice besides thermal imaging.
Or else you are going into the situation blind.
Standing water means puddles.
Get yourself a bunch of towels or even a squeegy if needed. Get that standing water dried out as quickly as possible.
We are not taking your home down to studs, at least not yet hopefully!
This part is really home specific.
Walls or baseboards may need to be removed for the purpose of drying inside of the walls or ceilings. If the baseboard is removed, a few small holes should be put behind where the baseboard was.
Here is an example of what I had to do in my own home:
I put small holes in the ceiling to "let it breathe"
This enables inside of the ceiling area to be fully dried out.
This part includes getting some equipment that you may not have.
If you have a tool rental shop near your home, you should be able to get your hands on:
You want to place the air movers on the water damaged areas. If the carpet is damaged you will want to peal a cornerback and put one of the air movers under the carpet. With holes in the drywall just put the fans in the direction of where you put the holes in the water damaged area.
Commercial dehumidifiers should also be installed on site. This will pull moisture from the air as well as the building material. Run the drain to the nearest plumbing fixture.
Until everything is dry!
It should be about 48-72 hours.
Ok, so let's say that unfortunately, emergency water damage dry-out is not an option.
You were too late and now have a mold problem.
Your first choice is going to be hiring a mold remediation company. While mold remediation is not rocket science, there is a certain art form to it.
One of the most important decisions you can make for the health of yourself and your family is the selection of the company who is going to perform the work.
Look, I'm going to level with you:
In my experiences in this industry, there a TON of shady people and companies. I have seen on dozens of occasions where the remediation company puts the fear into their clients and makes it sound like a life or death matter. I have also seen situations where the estimate provided to the customer is thousands upon thousands dollars more than it really should be.
Once remediation is done correctly, the mold is gone and your home will be fine. To determine if a remediation company is worth hiring I have come up with a few tactics you can use to select the right remediation company.
Consulting with multiple Mold Remediation companies can be tedious.
I get it...
You have this mold problem in a section of your home and you can't even go in that area with fear of getting sick.
You want to get this "mold problem" solved as quickly and cheaply as possible. One of the mold professionals can't get out there until next Wednesday and another company wants to wait until you contact your insurance company.
...It's a hassle
But here's what you should know:
Let's say you call three remediation companies to come in to give you an estimate, the possibility exists that you may hear three completely different things.
One may seem like a snake oil salesman,
One may seem like fixing the issue is not a big deal,
And the last one may make it seem like your house is going to fall down.
Hopefully, this isn't the case and the three companies you contact will be pretty consistent with each other, but that's just not guaranteed.
If you have three estimates though, you will be able to have some leverage. Make sure that each company knows you are getting other estimates as well. A little friendly competition will keep the bids low.
Do not just go with the lowest estimate. This is especially the case if you receive one estimate that is just way lower than the rest. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
A very low estimate opens the door for scammers as well.
Let me explain:
There is a very real possibility that whichever estimate you receive, will not be the final price of the remediation cost. You really don't know the extent of how bad the mold damage is until the walls are opened. Sometimes the problem can be worse than originally thought and more building material may need to be removed. This will affect your bottom line.
That fact can also lead the scammers who gave you the lowball estimate to tell you,
"The problem was worse than previously thought and we have to remove the wall in the entire room."
Guess what just happened,
Your estimate went right out the window and they went from being the cheapest estimate to the most expensive bill.
Check your state laws. Mold remediation professionals may need a special license. Licensed General Contractors are exempt from obtaining a license and are free to perform remediation.
Here's the problem:
Just because a state law may allow them to perform mold remediation, doesn't mean they know what they are doing!
This is not a rule of thumb as I know a few general contractors that also went through licensing for mold remediation and have been trained.
You want to make sure that whoever you decide to do the work is a mold specialist. They can have a general contractors license as well, just ensure they are trained in mold remediation.
Always keep in mind, Mold Remediation not done properly can cause more harm than good.
Look at it like this:
If you were to get braces would you have it performed by a general dentist or an orthodontist?
Sure, the dentist may be able to do it, but of course, you would rather the orthodontist put on the braces!
Many mold and water damage restoration companies are small companies that have a small crew which includes the owner and licensed mold remediator as the project manager.
There are many large franchises that employ many people who are not licensed and work under the owner's remediation license.
The problem is, the owner sits behind a desk and will never visit the job site.
In these cases, you have low paid workers who are not licensed themselves to deal with mold that are doing the actual work.
That's not to say large companies should be disqualified. There are many of these companies who have a project manager that is licensed or very qualified due to his time in the field.
If I had to pick one of the two, it would probably be the small company where the owner is in the actual field and performs the work.
Staying in your home should not be left up to you. Your mold remediation pro should know this answer. They must effectively decide whether they can successfully perform remediation without cross contamination.
If the whole entire home needs to be treated, you should not be in the home. Lean on your hired company for this answer.
Should You Hire A Company Or Do It Yourself?
I'm really not a big fan of homeowner's performing do it yourself mold removal.
As we already spoke about, mold removal is part of the mold remediation process, but when DIY mold remediation is performed, the removal is where the amateur can really mess things up and cause more harm in the building than good.
That being said, I fully understand that you may either may not have the money to hire a company that does mold extraction and mold clean up.
Either that, or you are just going to fully ignore what I say which is also fine.
So I am going to lay out a homeowner's guide to mold remediation.
There is a whole schooling process for mold remediation workers to get certified to perform the work. They have spent countless hours of learning on the job and training classes. This is in no way shape or form meant to replace the protocols that they have learned nor are they even half as good to them.
This DIY mold remediation guide is literally meant to simplify the process for anybody that is insistent on doing the work themselves instead of hiring a professional company. While I tried to make it as thorough as possible, I could not possibly list all the steps, safety procedures and equipment necessary in this one article.
Bottom Line: I am discouraging you from doing mold remediation for an area larger than 10 square feet. Follow this guide at your own risk!
Personal Protective equipment is very important to protect yourself from possible illness and disease. If you are dealing with mold that may produce mycotoxins, this is not something that you should compromise.
The goal of PPE is to prevent humans from being affected by means of:
RespiratorsThere are three types of respirators you should know about:**
This is used for very simple mold remediation jobs. If black toxic mold is present (Stachybotrys), it is not recommended that you use this mask. There is no eye protection.
Air Purifying Respirators(APR)
You can get a full face or half face mask. If you get the full face mask, you don't need to worry about eye protection. APR's can protect you from the dangerous mycotoxins that black mold and other dangerous species of mold.
Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR)
This is basically regular air purifying respirators on steroids! It has a fan controlled by a motor that forces contaminated air into a filter. You are really well protected when using this type or respirator.
If you are using a half face mask, you must protect your eyes with work goggles.
For small simple jobs, it is just recommended that you at least have long sleeves.
However, if the there is an extensive mold problem, a full body Tyvek suit may be necessary.
Rubber work boots should be worn at all times with booties.
Protective gloves are mandatory as well!
Tools And Materials Needed
Getting all the necessary tools may not be quite as easy as going to Home Depot or your local hardware store. Some items you may need to special order on the internet.
Below is a list of tools and materials that you will need:
6 mil Poly Sheeting-
You will need this for your containment barrier. Containment is absolutely necessary because when you open wall, ceiling or floor covering that is mold damaged, the spores will become airborne and cross contaminate the rest of the home. The poly should have a fire-spread rating of at least 25.
Other Containment Equipment
To hold up the poly you will need poles and grip disks.
A hygrometer is a tool used to measure the relative humidity which is needed to be kept low
Dehumidifiers are the devices that remove moisture from the air and keeps the humidity low More than one may be necessary.
A moisture meter is an instrument to measure the amount of moisture in building materials. You will need this to ensure the water damaged building materials have been dried out.
Anti-Microbial Agents and/or Biocides
These chemicals are used to treat the structural building material that is left behind. It will usually be distributed through a fogger.
Anti-microbial sealants are used for a process called encapsulation. It can be used to protect building materials from mold growth. It should be water based and with very low VOC's (volatile organic compounds). Encapsulation is not always needed. Of course, you will need a paint brush to apply it.
Area air scrubbers are used to remove airborne particles (mold spores) from the air. It can also be referred to as a Air filtration device, however, that is a completely separate use . Flex duct may be needed to run the air from the scrubber to the exterior.
A HEPA vacuum is a special vacuum cleaner that captures mold spores and other small particles from building materials and contents
Construction Garbage Bags
6 mil construction garbage bag will be needed to remove the contaminated building materials from the site.
This can be used to extract water if necessary but will more likely be used in the remediation process to remove debris. An insulation removal vacuum may also be necessary.
Blue painter's tape is needed to hold up plastic
Keep in mind that every mold remediation scenario is different. The step by step protocol will be based on if there are areas of wall covering that will need to be removed. We will also act as if we had a mold assessment and it was determined that the mold spores were also airborne.
This first step will be not just setting up your work area.
But setting up yourself as well.
Get your PPE on!
You will then set up a containment barrier. This may be tough if you never did it before. Give yourself plenty of room to work.
The whole objective of setting up a containment barrier is separating the affected areas from the non-affected areas.
There are three different types of containment barriers:
This means you your are just putting polyethylene over a small affected area.
Maybe just a small piece of drywall along a wall.
This is meant for areas over 100 square feet and you should not attempt to do it yourself.
For this example, we will be referring to mini containments.
Putting up a containment is really a two-person job and will be hard by yourself.
Tape the 6 mil poly sheathing from the floor to ceiling in the area you would like to contain.
Reinforce it using the staple gun.
Use the poles and grip disks in the corners of the containment to hold up the plastic and make it airtight as possible.
Install the zipper tape to the exterior of the containment.
You will probably want to do it in the middle on the barrier.
Once you open the zipper it should automatically cut the plastic to make a perfect opening for you to enter and exit the isolation barrier.
Your air filtration device and commercial dehumidifier should be placed in the containment barrier.
Of course, it is much easier to have it within the containment barrier before installed.
The purpose of the air filtration device is to create negative air pressure within the isolation chamber.
Your goal is really to create negative air throughout the containment process. There are a few ways this can be accomplished.
However, this is probably the easiest way for you:
Build yourself a HEPA filter and place that into the window inside of your containment. First tape off the window with plastic with the window opened. Then cut and tape the filter into the window directing the air flow OUT of the room. Keep this filter running and this will maintain negative pressure. If you have followed these instructions you should have a negative pressure containment area with flow-through ventilation allowing fresh makeup air to enter the room. (Source)
You can use an instrument called a manometer to measure the pressure differentials.
The containment areas and clean storage areas should maintain relative humidity at 50 percent during the remediation process.
Dehumidification should allow for 14 percent moisture in all construction materials.
You can measure the humidity with your hygrometer. A moisture meter can be used for the building material.
You will learn the best way to restore (if possible) your water damaged clothing, but in this particular section, we will talk about furniture specifically within the containment barrier. Any clothing should have been removed prior to the start of remediation.
Same goes for furniture, however, that may not be possible if heavy items are present. In that case, take 6 mil plastic and cover the furniture making it as airtight as possible.
Any HVAC returns or registers should be sealed with the blue painter's tape.
Here's the fun part!
But before you get started, go over the building material with a HEPA Vacuum to remove any surface mold.
Remove and discard water damaged sections of gypsum ceiling, wallboard, trim, crown molding baseboards etc. Remove all water damaged insulation if present. Any exposed batt insulation should be removed. Other building materials that are semi-porous such as wood studs (unless completely rotted out) can stay to be treated.
Pretty much anything that is porous and completely water damaged, get rid of it! Well, unless it affects the structural integrity of the home.
Conduct a visual inspection of any wood framing materials present and if they are affected, removal may need to occur depending on how rotted it is
If visible mold damage is observed beyond the recommendations, removal of the affected materials must continue for a minimum of one linear foot beyond visible mold growth.
When you remove the damaged areas, mold spores can become excessively airborne.
Yes, you are in a containment barrier for a reason, but you still want to limit as many airborne spores as possible. Try and minimize debris and impact when removing. It will make clean up much easier as well.
HEPA vacuum immediately following removal in the area as well as to limit the amount of dust and debris.
Get your 6 mil construction bags and start loading those bad boys up!
Wrap them as tight as possible.
Take your HEPA vacuum and clean the bag first. Damp wipe as well.
If you have some kind of window present within the containment, you can just open it up and throw it outside.
If you do not have any areas to discard the bags to the outside and have to go through an area of the home that is not affected, double bag it and clean the second bag with a HEPA vacuum as well.
Note- If you are removing any building material that may contain any kind of asbestos, lead or any other regulated waste, you may want to check with your local municipalities or state laws in regards to putting in your regular garbage.
The purpose of this part is to ensure everything that is remaining is properly sanitized and remaining mold spores are removed.
For the exposed wall cavities, you should HEPA vacuum the area. You can also sand it as well as use a wire-brush if you happen to have one.
Then damp wipe the area.
Do not wet the rag very much as adding water can cause water damage which can lead to new mold growth!
Wire-brush clean, HEPA- Vacuum and dry all exposed surfaces, including structural members and other items inside of the exposed wall cavities.
The exposed area can be treated with an EPA approved biocide and sealed with a fungicidal coating.
Applying a biocide is an overrated part of the process. While it can kill microorganisms, it may not destroy toxigenic properties. By no means should applying a biocide be substituted for removal of the mold-infested building materials.
Same goes for applying the mold-resistant coating...
While it can retard future growth, many mold professionals will not label this part of the process (referred to in the mold industry as encapsulation) as a mandatory part of the process.
It does not hurt either!
You are almost there!
Now, it is time to check and make sure you did the work correctly.
It's always recommended that you have a Certified Mold Inspector do an inspection if possible.
If you are doing mold removal in the home by yourself, you may not have the money to have a mold test done by a licensed professional.
If that is the case, you should check your air quality using MyMoldDetective which was mentioned earlier. You can overnight your samples to My Mold Detective's lab and have a report within a few days with your air quality results as it's related to mold spores.
Keep the containment up with the machines running during the time you are waiting for the results.
Congratulations! If you reached this point, you have successfully performed mold removal by yourself!
Now it's time to take down the containment barrier, but don't just manhandle it and rip it down.
The containment barrier should be HEPA Vacuumed and damp wiped thoroughly before taking down!
Well, yes and no.
This is what the CDC has to say about Stachybotrys:
Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal. (Source)
But here's the thing: Stachybotrys itself isn't dangerous, it's the mycotoxins that it may produce which can be extremely dangerous and get your sick.
There are other species of mold which may produce mycotoxins so it's kind of misleading when somebody tosses around that term. Not all molds that are black in color aren't necessary Stachybotrys.
Penicillium and Aspergillus are two species of mold that can be black in color.
When black toxic mold is airborne, even in small amounts, you really have to sanitize the air. You don't want to take any risks with any species old mold that can produce mycotoxins.
Establishing more caution is the main difference with black mold removal.
Preventing mold from coming back in your home is the exact procedures that you would take from preventing mold growing in your home in the first place.
Once you have mold remediation and it is done correctly, you get a fresh start.
As long as the source of the mold growth is resolved, you should not have any recurring issues in the remediated area.
That's not to say a new issue can't arise!
Check out some of the best ways to prevent mold in the first place.
Mold In The HVAC System
Mold contamination in your air conditioning system can cause affect all the areas that are controlled by that air conditioning zone.
Mold remediation companies really don't even treat HVAC systems for mold. They will usually hire an air conditioning professional do it.
So should you clean your HVAC system for mold yourself?
Are you going to do it anyways, probably!
The components that will need to be sanitized are:
The Interior DuctworkThe interior of ductwork can be made of many different materials.**
Three of the most common are:
All three of them by themselves do not support mold growth. However...
Even though mold does not grow on the ductwork itself, it grows on the dust, dirt, debris, etc. within the ductwork.
The Exterior Ductwork Insulation
The exterior insulation of the ductwork is usually in a hot and humid attic. Therefore mold tends to show up on the exterior of it. This is not abnormal. You can clean this with an EPA Registered solution. It is just surface mold and will come right off.
The Air Handler Exterior
The exterior of the air handler is usually metal. Metal is not porous. So if you see mold build-up on the air handler, it is surface mold and can also be cleaned with an EPA Registered solution.
The Air Handler Interior And Coils
Your HVAC coils tend to get extremely dirty over a period of time. Coil cleaner you can buy from your local hardware store is usually not sufficient. Your coils may need to be taken out and gone through a process called acid washing. This should only be done by a licensed professional
Before determining how to remove mold on personal belongings, you must first determine if you need to remove your contents altogether!
The determining factors will be:
Did Your Belongings Get Wet?
Normally, as long as your stuff did not get water damaged during a flood, it will be salvageable.
If So, How Wet Did They Get And For How Long Before Being Dried Out
If your belongings didn't get completely soaked and were dried pretty quickly, they can possibly be saved. This will also depend on what the material is made of. For example, anything that is particle board that is substantially water damaged will need to be discarded.
Your contents can be divided into three categories:
Usually, only porous items will need to be discarded. Non-porous items will generally not need to be discarded after water damage. For the most part, neither will semi-porous items.
Is Mold Using The Items As A Food Source?
Mold will only be using contents as a food source it is wet. You may have some clothing or furniture where there is a surface mold. This can usually be salvaged.
Once you make a determination, it's time to come up with a plan of action.
What Not To Do...
If you are having mold remediation done in a particular area of the home, whether you are doing it yourself or hire a company...
DO NOT BRING THE MOLD DAMAGED ITEMS OUT OF THE ROOM!
This will contaminate other areas of the home which were not previously contaminated.
If you made the determination to discard contents, it is recommended that you treat it just like any other mold damaged debris. Remove the materials in 6 mil poly construction bags. Refer to step 3 in the DIY Mold Removal section.
Maybe you are really lucky and after making a determination, the clothes can be salvaged!
While that is good news, you need to make sure it is done correctly.
Cleaning some personal belongings that are not clothes and furniture, you don't have much of a choice. Cleaning clothes you have a second choice:
Sending your clothes to a specialized dry cleaner. This type of cleaners performs a process called CO2 Cleaning.
It involves pressuring Carbon dioxide into a liquid and cleaning the clothes through dry cleaning with the liquid.
The process is environmentally friendly and also very effective in removing mold from clothes.*
Mold remediation specialists will either clean your items on the exterior of the home or in something called a Cleaning Chamber.
It is best that you don't attempt this and your belongings outside (with the exception of heavy furniture). You want to be far away from the home.
Heavy furniture will be sanitized in the water damaged area of the home. If you are removing any building materials, the furniture needs to be removed outside of your containment barrier.
Whether your items are porous, non-porous or semi-porous, there are two procedures that remain consistent:
HEPA Vacuuming will do wonders for removing mold spores from your things. It's actually recommended that you go over everything 3 times in a cross pattern. How your clean your contents will largely depend on what kind of contents are present in the area that needs to be cleaned.
For your clothes, if you made the determination they can be saved, just putting them through a normal cycle in the laundry machine. With detergent can usually decontaminate everything.
Non-porous and semi-porous items can along with being HEPA vacuumed can be damp wiped.
Within this section, when referring to removing mold in the bathroom, I am not referring to a leak from the toilet, shower or sink. In that case, you would need regular mold remediation outlined above regardless if the mold is in the bathroom or not.
I am talking about cleaning the build-up of mold that will grow on your tile's grout.
This type of mold typically won't harm you.
It indicates that your bathroom needs a good deep cleaning!
Your bathroom can be a breeding ground for mold. Just think about how much moisture and humidity is present on a daily basis!
That is why it is so important to have proper ventilation in your bathroom.
Use your ventilation fan if you have one!
Many people don't use it, or it is not working very well.
You see, the builder of the home didn't just install that fan for show. It serves a purpose (not just when you are using the toilet!) and allows the bathroom to be vented properly. So if you are taking a shower, make sure that fan is on and if it is not working properly, get it fixed! See My Full Guide: How to clean bathroom mold
Here's what you need to know about mold in the attic:
There is more there than the attic space in the home.
Think about it...
You have outside air getting into the home through soffit vents (unless you have foam insulation).
There are many different components of the attic. You have:
How you attack the mold growth in the attic will largely depend on where it is growing. Certain components really can't be removed easily such as the sheathing or trusses. ### When Should You Address Attic Mold
You should address attic mold when it is colonizing and actively growing or have already colonized.
Also, if for any reason that the mold in the attic is affecting the indoor air quality in the living space, it needs attention.
Howtoremoveblackmold.com has a great guide on treating attic mold: You can check it out by clicking here.
What You Need To Know
Depending on where you are in the country, you may have a crawl space if your home.
If you don't, keep scrolling down!
Unfortunately, crawl spaces are prone to mold growth.
Because mold loves dark, moist places.
Here's the problem:
Removing mold from crawl spaces can be very difficult if even possible at all! You have very little room to operate and you need to remember, when you're in the crawl space and you look up, it's your home's subfloor! It is a major job to remove subflooring.
Your best chance of removing mold in a crawl space...
Is preventing it from ever growing in the first place!
The easiest way to prevent mold in the crawl space is keeping moisture out. Remember, mold needs moisture to grow.
Because removing building material in the crawl space is either not an option or very hard to do, your best bet will be treating the building material. This involves using chemicals.
Keep this in mind:
You are in a very tiny and tight place. Make sure you have proper ventilation and the chemicals you are using are safe.
This is not an easy job, however, if you insist Doityourself.com has a great DIY guide.
Build back, in this case, would include any drywall work, painting, floor replacement, decorative fixtures or molding etc.
If a mold remediation company does not have a general contractor's license, they may not be able to do this by law.
I have seen certain situations where the estimate was provided to the homeowner with the impression given to the homeowner that this included the price of the build back.
Not a happy camper!
Look, I'm going to level with you:
This is a not a given...
Insurance companies look for any reason not cover losses. As horrible as that sounds, sadly it's true.
Luckily for you, I put together a full guide on what you need to know in regards to Homeowner's Insurance claims.
As stated earlier, micro-cleaning involves cleaning literally every single piece of personal property or building material in the contaminated area.
Here's what the takes a lot of...
Just like everything else in this world time equals money. If there are three guys working there and micro-cleaning takes a total of 3 days, you are paying for labor for those three days.
Even if you just need sanitization done without any kind building material to be removed, it can cost thousands of dollars.
How Many Air Scrubbers and Dehumidifiers Are Going To Be Installed On Site And How Long Will They Be Running?
If you recall in the DIY guide air scrubbers are machines that are installed in affected areas or containment within the home that is used to remove particles from the air. They are necessary during the remediation process, but just like everything else during this process
It costs money.
Some companies will charge you up to $250 (shouldn't be this high) a day to have them on site. Imagine if one company is bringing four of them on site when only two is necessary.
Do the math...
$250 x 2 extra machines=$500 a day x 5 days= $2,500!
Same goes for commercial dehumidifiers. They are used to dry areas out and keep the relative humidity under 60%.
It is important to these types of questions to determine how many are necessary because they affect your bottom line.
Does It Include The Sanitization of The HVAC System?
If mold spores are airborne, it may also be necessary to the clean the HVAC zone. All the particles that have been released into the air have gone through the system.
If you made it to the end, pat yourself on the back!
You are much more educated than the average homeowner when it comes to mold remediation.
Have you had any experience with mold remediation? Did you do it yourself or hire a company? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell us your story!