Man shocked to mold in kitchen cabinet.
Chances are, you could have some form of mold in your home without even knowing it. Experts suggest that roughly half of the homes in the U.S. have some form of mold problem. Compounding the issue is that 28% of the population has some sort of genetic factor that could leave them at risk for mold-related health issues. In addition, people in certain regions of the country may be at greater risk of mold in their homes, generally in areas with high humidity. In these situations, you need to make sure that you are ready to utilize mold remediation.
Mold Remediation vs. Mold Removal
At first, you may be confused about exactly why the term is called mold remediation vs. mold removal. Part of the reason for this is that mold remediation is a more accurate label. Mold, to some degree, is going to occur wherever there is any sort of water or moisture, including heavy humidity. As a result, you’re never going to technically remove every single iota of mold in a home, and even if you could, it would come back pretty quickly. This is where the legal definition of mold remediation makes a lot of sense—being: “the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter that was not purposely grown at that location.”
Mold remediation does not completely remove mold forever, but it brings it back to healthy levels. So, with this in mind, what exactly leads to mold in the first place? In nature, mold has a very important use—to break down organic matter like dead trees and fallen leaves, but indoors, it can lead to issues.
Mold grows in areas where there is moisture, and it continues to grow and reproduce by expelling spores that are invisible to the naked eye. There are a variety of different types of mold out there, and all of these require moisture to function. This is part of the reason why so many companies that help with water damage also offer mold remediation services—because the two go hand-in-hand. Water damage scenarios, like flooding, hurricanes, or burst pipes, are some of the areas where mold remediation is often needed most because the sudden influx of moisture leads to the greatest risk of mold causing health issues.
When You Need Mold Remediation?
To be clear, we should address the commonly held concept of “toxic mold” in the home. A lot of restoration services may use this in their marketing, but it’s a bit of a misnomer. Very few molds actually produce true toxins. However, those same spores that we mentioned earlier can cause health issues if they are ingested, and this applies to a variety of different species of mold. However, only roughly 50 species out of the 100,000 types of mold out there truly qualify as toxic (Knowing Your Mold Types).
Just because exposure to mold isn’t poisonous doesn’t mean that it can’t be serious, though. One of the most common negative health reactions to mold is mold allergies. These, like other allergies, are caused due to an overreaction of the immune system when someone inhales mold spores. This can happen even with some of the milder mold species out there. Typical signs of mold allergies include:
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Cough/postnasal drip
- Itching in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dried skin
Like other allergies, there can be a lot of variance in the severity of different reactions, as well as the duration of said allergies. For example, your mold allergies may only happen at certain times of the year or occur year-round. For the most part, mold allergies will make you extremely uncomfortable but don’t necessarily threaten your health. However, the issue may be further compounded for people who are dealing with asthma. Asthmatic people with mold allergies can easily have an asthma attack if they end up being exposed to mold that triggers an allergy.
While mold allergies are the most common health issue that will require mold remediation, there are some other more dangerous health conditions that can occur. These can include respiratory infections and conditions like bronchitis, especially among people who have compromised immune systems. In some cases, post-flooding mold can be especially dangerous due to the other contaminants that are often brought in by floodwater.
With this said, even if mold is rarely life-threatening, constant allergic reactions can cause a serious impact on your quality of life. Because of this issue, it’s essential that homeowners have the means to detect mold as soon as they suspect that it’s present. There are a few ways that you can do this:
Check by sight: While you don’t want to use just this option, certain types of mold are more visible than others, like the infamous Stachybotrys chartarum, known as black mold, which has a distinct greenish black appearance.
Check by smell: One of the most common ways people first detect mold in their home is by the very distinct damp, musty smell that stems from substances naturally produced by mold as they grow.
Health issues: Because mold allergy symptoms can resemble other allergies, it may be difficult to pin health issues on mold at first. However, if you recently had a flood or humid season and are experiencing issues out of the blue, mold may be the culprit.
Technically, there are mold kits out there, but most of the time, you don’t really need those. If you have even a suspicion that there is mold in your home, the best course of action is to prep for mold remediation rather than delay the process. The longer it takes for you to get started, the more time the mold has to grow and spread.
If you’re struggling to find a place to start looking, remember that mold is naturally drawn to places where moisture is present (Common Household Mold Areas). This means that bathrooms and the kitchen are a good place to start, but you may want to also look in areas that may have come into contact with heavy rain or leaks. Windows, air conditioning vents, humidifiers, and even indoor plants can become a home to mold. This is part of why pipe bursts and floods can be so dangerous when it comes to mold, as water and moisture can get into areas that are difficult or impossible to see or check. This is why you want to start looking for mold remediation professionals who can get the job done shortly after returning to your home after these issues take place.
Mold Remediation – Step By Step
The beginning of the mold remediation process, no matter what the size of the project or the location in the home, is going to be attending to the underlying water issue. Because the water is the root of all the major problems, it’s essential to clear out any excess moisture to avoid mold growth. At this point, you’re typically going to use the following steps:
- Isolating the area. If the mold is limited to one area, mold remediation professionals are going to close all windows and doors to try to stop the spread of mold, and they should also be protecting themselves by wearing protective gear. Depending on the size of the remediation, they may also have to cover the doors and openings with sheeting to ensure there is no additional spread.
- Removing wet/damaged items. Many areas that have been contaminated by mold or soaked by water damage will need to be disposed of. However, your mold remediation company should be following best practices to dispose of these items. Generally, this includes using double-bagged thick plastic bags. After the exterior of the bags are cleaned, these can be treated as regular trash.
- Cleaning the affected area. Different professionals will use different tools, but the basic concept stays the same. All affected areas need to be brushed and scrubbed using a cleaning solution until all mold has been removed. At this point, the cleaning materials need to be disposed of and the surfaces need to be rinsed with clean water.
- Drying the affected area. The cleaning process will generally lead to some leftover moisture, and many mold restoration professionals will speed up the drying process by using dehumidifiers and fans, as well as raising the air temperature in the home. After things are dried, the homeowner can begin replacing anything that was discarded during the remediation process.
Depending on the location of the mold and the nature of your home, the exact process of remediation will vary, but this list gives you a basic principles behind remediation—isolating the affected area, clearing out any water, disposing of contaminated material, and then an effective clean and dry. It may be worth it for you to ask the mold remediation company exactly what type of biocide/fungicide/moldicide solutions they use to kill any remaining mold during this process.
The Ideal Path Towards Mold Remediation
With all these steps in mind, is there anything that you can do as a homeowner to stage your home before your mold remediation starts? In general, it’s not a good idea to start your own DIY mold remediation because there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about clearing out mold that may cause issues. However, there are a few things that you can do, like turning down the humidity in your home. In general, you want indoor humidity at approximately 55%.
In addition, while you may not be able to eliminate mold completely, there are certain best practices you can put in place to avoid issues in the future. For example, get in the habit of looking for cracks in the foundation or leaky gutters at the start of each major rainy season. A lot of the time, areas that are difficult to detect can suddenly become havens for mold due to rain seeping into the home. In general, if you live in a humid area or one with a lot of moisture, the best thing you can do is get into the habit of checking common areas of the home for mold. By acting quickly, you may only need remediation for a small space as opposed to a large swath of your home. Another good practice is to make sure that your home is properly ventilated and insulated to avoid mold in unexpected areas like the attic. However, your own efforts can only go so far (Why DIY Mold Remediation Doesn’t Work).
When the time comes to find a mold remediation professional, the best course of action is to be an attentive consumer (10 Questions To Ask Mold Remediation Professionals). Take some time to look at the online reviews and look over the company website to make sure that they are properly licensed. Ideally, you’re going to want a company that is not only experienced in mold remediation, but also going through the process in your region, and even in your type of home, if possible. You can always ask the potential company for clarification about these details outright.
Using TCR For Mold Remediation
At this point, we’ve established that it’s essential for you to act quickly when it comes to mold remediation and that half-measures won’t work when it comes to keeping your family safe. This is why it’s important to recruit professional help for mold remediation rather than trying a DIY solution. For the right company, contact professionals like Total Care Restoration. Not only do we believe in doing the most for our customers in the Miami area, but we’re also:
- 5 Star Rated on Yelp
- IICRC Certified
- BBB A+ Rated
This means that we have the skills and expertise to help you with mold remediation, no matter where the mold is in your home or how much has grown. Our customers also trust us to diagnose different issues and create a removal solution that matches their needs. Reach out to us today for a free inspection.