When it comes to mold contamination, moisture control is the key to prevention. Mold is a fast-growing resilient organism that can grow on any organic material. In nature, mold is a valuable part of the ecosystem. Mold aids in breaking down and decomposing leaves and other biological waste products. Unfortunately, mold can get into homes and businesses and can put the occupants in serious danger. Prevention is the best way to handle any mold issue but when mold becomes apparent in the home it needs to be properly handled to avoid health issues and regrowth. The following guidelines for mold prevention and removal will help keep your household safe and clean.
The first step to preventing mold growth is to find where potential moisture sources are.
When you find a problem with a moisture source, fixing it can be as easy as tightening a leaky pipe or simply adding more ventilation to the room. Specifically, areas like basements may have poor ventilation due to the lack of windows and air movement. In these cases, a dehumidifier may be needed. Using a dehumidifier is a great preventative measure, yet the machine itself must be cleaned and emptied regularly to prevent mold spores from spreading back into the air. It is said that 65%-70% humidity is needed for mold to grow. For that reason, it is ideal to keep your house between 30%-50% relative humidity.
If you find yourself in a mold growth situation, how do you know if a professional needs to be hired?
The EPA advocates that if the area is less than 10 square feet (roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. area) that the job can be handled domestically. Keep in mind that in many cases mold contamination is not always apparent and can be difficult to clean when it is not obviously visible. In areas where mold is widespread or hidden, a professional mold remediation team should be called.
If mold is found in the home there are several steps to follow:
- Call a professional mold remediation company to assess the situation if the affected area is larger than a 3’ x3’ area. If the affected area is localized, mold can be scrubbed off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Bleach may be used to clean mold but can be harmful to pets and small children. If mold is found on absorbent or porous materials like carpets and ceiling tiles, it is recommended that they be thrown away. If any contaminated porous materials have sentimental value or are simply too expensive to be thrown away, the EPA recommends that a professional environmental services company be called. These sentimental or valuable things can be salvaged but require a more extensive cleaning process.
- Once the visible mold has been cleaned, it is imperative to completely dry the area. Once again, the number one factor of mold growth is moisture control. If the area is cleaned and not totally dried, it won’t take long for the mold to regrow. The EPA recommends that wet or damp areas be cleaned 24-48 hours after the leak or spill to assure the cessation of mold growth.
- Once the area is free of mold and thoroughly dried it is imperative to add a germicide or biocide sealant to the affected area as well as a mold inhibiting paint. Most professionals recommend that two coats of the paint be applied to the area in question. If the area is cleaned and painted over with non-biocide paint, it is likely that the mold will regrow and the paint will peel.
If these steps are followed and preventive methods are put into practice, it should be easy to rid your home of mold and prevent regrowth from occurring.