Mold Remediation – Leave it to the Professionals
Mold is a part of the environment. In the outdoors, molds and fungus help break down fallen leaves, dead trees, and other dead organic matter. Indoors, mold and fungus can be a real hazard. Molds require moisture to be able to thrive, and in the event of a flood, a leaky roof or a persistent plumbing problem, mold growth can take off and make a house uninhabitable.
Why Molds Are Dangerous – Even Deadly
Thousands of types of molds can grow indoors, and mold spores are everywhere in household dust. Certain types of molds, however, can be a health risk to humans and animals, especially if their spores have proliferated. Certain molds produce mycotoxins that can result in neurological problems and even death, while other spores can cause allergic reactions and asthma-like respiratory problems. Prolonged daily exposure can make these problems much worse.
Things like nasal and sinus congestion, itchy, irritated eyes, cough, rashes, headache, sneezing or tightness in the chest can be the result of these indoor contaminants, rather than outdoor pollen or dust. Studies have shown a connection between exposure to certain molds and asthma in children and infants. People who are prone to asthma or who have chronic lung diseases tend to be at higher risk for mold-related allergies and might show more severe reactions to mold exposure.
Building materials such as plywood, furring strips, drywall, carpet or carpet padding and even concrete can retain enough moisture to sustain mold growth. Water vapor will condense on surfaces that are cooler than ambient air, giving mold a chance to get a start, and the vapor will pass through walls and ceilings if there is no vapor barrier. Even if there’s no visible mold, it can accumulate inside walls or on pipes and cause problems. Air conditioning systems can provide a great environment for mold growth, with cooler surfaces, condensation and dust for mold to feed on – as a result, HVAC systems are a common source of mold problems and indoor air pollution.
Mold Cleanup and Removal
Cleaning mold with bleach or a biocide isn’t enough since the chemicals and proteins in dead mold can still cause health problems in humans and pets. It’s important to remove the moisture source itself since new colonies of mold can spring up on moist surfaces within 24 to 48 hours.
Instead, the first step in addressing an indoor mold problem is to identify and remove the source of the moisture. In extreme cases, this can mean removing drywall, carpeting, flooring, furniture, or any other surfaces that can support mold growth.
Mold cleanup companies require remediation crews to wear full personal protective equipment that includes goggles, a half-face respirator mask with filters that can trap spores, disposable coveralls, gloves and a jumpsuit that can filter out contaminants down to one micrometer in size. This work is hazardous and requires special training and certifications.
Techniques for Mold Remediation
Technicians use a proven, tested set of tools and techniques for mold removal and remediation. This includes:
· Dry brushing or agitation – on solid wood surfaces such as framing or subfloors, wire brushing or sanding might be used
· Dry-ice blasting can remove mold from cement or wood surfaces
· Wet vacuuming is done on wet surfaces (and is EPA-approved)
· On non-porous surfaces, wiping or scrubbing with water and detergent can be helpful
· HEPA vacuums are used to collect debris, dust and contaminated materials
In addition, technicians often use a moisture meter and humidity gauge (often with a thermometer), a borescope to check for mold problems inside walls and ceilings, and an infrared thermal imaging camera to spot any secondary sources of moisture.
Preventing Mold Accumulation
It’s important to remember that mold doesn’t just result from flooding or poor building maintenance. Mold buildup can occur due to unexpected sources, and the EPA recommends the following steps:
· Cleaning and repairing roof gutters to ensure rainwater is channeled away properly and to prevent moisture from seeping in
· Keeping air-conditioning condensate pans and drainage lines clear and unclogged
· Monitoring building humidity and drying any areas of condensation or moisture
· Treating exposed outdoor wood or framing with EPA-approved fungicidal coating (after pre-cleaning)
Performing mold remediation requires specialized training and equipment, as well as certifications and licensing. Not having the proper training and equipment to take on this job can be downright dangerous. If you have a mold problem, don’t try to take it on yourself. Call a mold remediation company and let the professionals handle it.