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How To Tell When Mold Is Behind Your Walls

By September 17, 2018Mold
Mold behind walls

Mold behind walls

Mold may be a part of nature, but it’s one natural thing that you never want to see in your home. Even the most minor examples of mold can be visually unappealing and potentially cause health issues, especially for people who are allergic. Learn about what causes mold in the home, what to look for, and how to prevent and treat it to keep every room in the house clean and safe.

Never Leave Water Damage Unchecked!

[Video – Stop Neglecting Water Damage]

Did you know that mold usually starts to grow within 24 or 48 hours when water is present? Many homeowners neglect to treat existing water damage because the issue looks relatively small or insignificant. However, even the smallest leak can lead to some big problems. It is crucial to deal with water damage early to ensure that the leak doesn’t spread. Water damage that is not treated right away can end up causing severe structural damage that requires extensive repair. It is also one of the most common causes of mold in the home because the moisture creates a perfect environment for mold to grow. Some types of mold, particularly black mold, can become health hazards if they are left unchecked. Some people tend to have allergic reactions to even non-toxic mold. These tend to manifest with the following symptoms:

  • Runny noses
  • Skin rashes
  • Itchy, red, and/or watery eyes
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Cough and postnasal drip

Dealing with water damage early can prevent mold growth, which can in turn prevent these health problems.

Women_Sneezing_In_Tissues

Women Sneezing In Tissue

Common Causes of Mold

Mold flourishes in damp conditions, so most causes of mold growth involve unwanted water getting into the house. Some of the most common situations include:

  • Leaky pipes or air-conditioning ducts
  • Wet clothes
  • Backed up drains
  • Heavy rain or flooding
  • Excess condensation on cold metallic, glass, or concrete surfaces.
Condensation_Causes_Mold

Condensation_Causes_Mold

Water can also pool up around sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers, or washing machines, so be wary and clean any water up right away. Some problems to look out for outdoors include a yard that slopes toward the foundation of the house, leaky shingles on the roof, and improper caulking on windows.

Preventative Tips

Of course, the best way to fix mold growth is to avoid the problem in the first place! The good news is there are several easy ways to prevent mold in the home. Keeping humidity levels low is a great way to reduce the risk of mold — measure and monitor conditions by using a humidity meter. The ideal humidity level is under 50%. This can be achieved by using a dehumidifier or turning up the air conditioning. Don’t forget to look out for rooms in the house that might be more susceptible to high humidity levels — basements, for example, should be checked consistently for increases in moisture.

Another great preventative tip is making sure that your home has excellent ventilation. This is especially important in bathrooms, where moisture and condensation from the shower can build up. Adding an extra exhaust vent can help to improve ventilation and prevent mold issues. Using mold-killing cleaning products can keep mold growth under control around the sink and bathtub, preventing them from becoming a bigger issue.

Close-up Of A Shocked Woman Looking at moldy room

Close-up Of A Shocked Woman Looking at a moldy room

However, the best way to prevent mold is to keep a sharp eye out for water damage at all times. Check potential areas where excess moisture may get into your home, such as cracks in the foundation or leaky gutters. If you spot any leaks or extra moisture, call an expert right away. They will be able to assess the situation and determine the best solution.

What Am I Dealing With?

So, how can you be sure you’re dealing with a mold problem? In some cases, there are visual signs of mold or clues that you’re at risk for mold. For example, water stains on drywall aren’t a 100% indicator that you have mold, but there’s obviously water getting there from some sort of source. With this in mind, chances are that you’re going to get mold in time if you don’t find and address the source. This is part of the reason many experts recommend doing home examinations during periods of the year when there’s a lot of humidity or rain.

Other visual indicators of moisture include peeling wallpaper or condensation on the wall or ceiling. Be careful if you think there’s mold under your wallpaper, though. Peeling it off yourself to see may end up exposing you to a cloud of spores! If you’re willing to do a more intensive test, consider trying to probe the wall in question with a screwdriver. If things are soft or crumbling, you may already have rot taking hold because of mold.

One common issue people with water damage have to deal with is mold behind their walls. In some cases, mold can be easy to visually identify and take care of, but in many cases, it’s the mold you can’t see that is the biggest problem. So if you can’t see it, how do you know that you have a mold problem? If you start experiencing allergy symptoms such as those listed above, it may be a sign that there is some mold growing out of sight in your home, especially if there has been recent flooding or heavy rain. In addition, mold, even behind the walls, still leaves a trademark odor. If you start to notice a strange smell, this may be another indication that you need to call an expert!

Since mold is usually caused by water damage, it can be helpful to understand the different classes of water damage that can occur in the home. This will help to identify how serious the problem is and how it can be fixed.

Water Damage Classes

Water Damage Classes

There are also different categories of water damage — clean water, greywater, and black water. Clean water is uncontaminated and typically comes from a sink, toilet, or water line. Greywater often comes from dishwashers, laundry machines, and other appliances and has other substances in it that could be harmful if ingested. Blackwater is the most contaminated water damage category and usually comes from a sewer backup or stagnant water. This is very unsanitary and could result in serious illness if ingested.

Roof Leaks

A leaky roof is a specific type of water damage problem that can be a huge headache for homeowners. Roof damage can be caused by severe weather conditions such as hurricanes or tornadoes or by falling trees, animals, or fires. Replacing a roof is ultimately the best long-term solution, but this is a huge project and often it can’t be done right away. However, homeowners can’t simply leave the roof as it is and allow more water to get into the house.

water damage restoration miami fl

Rain Water Causing Water Damage

The best way to deal with this is by installing a roof tarp as a temporary fix until the roof can be replaced. These tarps can be installed on any kind of roof, including skylights, and will buy homeowners some time to save up the money to do a full roof replacement. Be very cautious if you intend to install a roof tarp yourself, as this can be extremely dangerous.  If in need of a same-day emergency roof tarp contact us here.

What Happens Now?

So, you’ve discovered the source of your mold or water damage problem. What happens next? Because of the potential danger that unchecked water damage or mold can cause, if you see evidence of it anywhere in your home make sure you reach out to 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 IICRC-certified. This means we use the best cleaning and restoration tactics to help target mold and other remnants of water damage and fix them so you can come back to your home or business with peace of mind.

The first step in the water damage restoration process is an inspection. This will help experts to determine exactly how extensive the problem is and where water damage is present, as some types of mold and water damage can be difficult to spot. The more you know about your problem, the more you’ll be able to help the water damage restoration experts by giving them detailed information. Our staff will use moisture meters and other tools to ensure that we spot every bit of water damage.

Next, any water that’s already in the house will need to be removed. If the leak or flooding has been severe this may require the use of water pumps or industrial wet-dry vacuums. Once the water has been extracted, professionals will take steps to prevent any further damage. If any carpets or furniture has gotten wet, they may need to be removed as moisture inside these materials can result in mold growth. Additionally, any walls, floors, or ceilings that have been structurally damaged will need to be removed.

[FAQ Video – Can I Stay In My House During The Dry Out Process?]

Then comes the drying process, otherwise known as the dry out. This critical step requires the use of fans and dehumidifiers to properly dry out any affected areas, preventing further mold growth. The dry out process typically takes from 3-5 days and the machines need to run 24 hours a day during that time for the house to dry out quickly and efficiently. During this step, affected areas will be taped off to isolate them from the rest of the home and ensure that the heat is targeted to the areas that need it most. Experts will monitor the moisture levels throughout the dry out to track progress.

[FAQ Video — What Happens After The Dry Out Process?]

After the dry out is complete, the house will be tested for mold. If mold is present, then a mold remediation will need to be performed.

[Mold Remediation Process Video]

Although in most cases it is possible to stay in your home during the mold remediation process, ask an expert to ensure that it is safe. You may be more comfortable finding other accommodations for a few days. During mold remediation, affected areas will be isolated with containment barriers to prevent further spread. Then mold will be removed using various tools including:

  • Vacuums
  • Chemical bio wash
  • Wire brushes
  • Encapsulation paint

After all traces of mold on surfaces have been removed, the air itself is cleaned. After all, there may be airborne mold spores which could continue to cause health problems! Mold remediation professionals will use machines like hydroxyl generators, air scrubbers, and foggers to purify the air and make it safe.

Once the cleaning process is complete a final mold test will be conducted to ensure that the house is safe. This is referred to as a Post Remediation Verification or PRV. A certificate of completion will be issued and your water damage or mold problem is officially solved!

After water damage and mold has been removed, homeowners may have to complete either minor or extensive renovations, depending on how severe the problem was. Although this requires a lot of work, it is very important that your home is properly cleaned of mold to ensure your safety. The silver lining is that sometimes repairing water damage or removing mold provides homeowners with an opportunity to redecorate or replace outdated walls or floors. Don’t be afraid to refresh your home with a new sense of style!

It is important to remember that every water damage or mold problem is different, and the solution for each home will be unique. A problem may be smaller or larger than it initially appears, and the only way to know for sure is to seek the help of a professional. Whatever the issue, Total Care Restoration is there to help you. We know that mold and water damage can be extremely stressful and may happen when you least expect it. Every member of the Total Care Restoration team is an expert in water damage restoration and mold remediation, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that your home is back to normal as soon as possible. If you’re a Florida homeowner struggling with mold or water damage, contact us today for a no-obligation quote!

Kyle Haywood

About Kyle Haywood

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