Mold is among the most alarming discoveries one can make in their own home. Over the past decade there’s been a great deal of coverage in the press. And, mold is often referred to with presumed, fear-inducing references, such as toxic mold, black mold and the ultimate combination: toxic black mold.
Whatever the case, there’s work to be done. Mold can be dangerous and should be removed as soon as possible. That process needs to be safe for everyone involved, too. In some instances clean-up is a DIY job. But, when mold has really taken hold, the task is best left to professionals.
We cover how you know when it’s time to call a professional as well as what their process will entail below.
How Big of a Mold Issue is it?
Luckily, there’s easy guidelines for deciding if clean-up is a DIY affair. According to the EPA, if the affected area in your home is smaller than 10 square feet, or roughly 3 feet by 3 feet, you can consider performing the clean-up on your own. If it’s larger, they recommend a professional handle the job.
If you do the clean-up yourself, you’ll wear gloves, should dawn a protective mask and goggles, and will use a variety of cleaning products.
So, how different is the process when the professionals are brought in?
Companies that remove mold, often called water damage restoration and mold remediation companies, go through a somewhat standard process when cleaning up mold in a home. While generalized, here’s what you can expect in broad strokes:
The very first step is often removing the presence of water from the affected area. Water is a key ingredient and required for molds to grow.
In cases where standing water is present, water is pumped out of the home, relocating it outside.
The next step is lowering the humidity in the affected area. First, plastic barriers are put in place to cordon off the workspace. While situational, this can sometimes allow use of the rest of the home. When mold concentration levels are high, however, it’s often safer to keep everyone out of the home until complete.
Commercial dehumidifiers for mold remediation are then brought in. Larger than consumer-grade dehumidifiers, these units lower the moisture content in the air more efficiently and more effectively. They can do so as they move a higher quantity of air, completing more air changes per hour (or ACH) than standard units.
Air movers and carpet dryers may also be used during this phase.
Cleaning the Air
Once the area has been dried out another tool is put in place: negative air machines. Negative air machines operate under the principle of negative air pressure, scrubbing the air of mold spores and other pollutants.
Inside the now-contained area, ambient air is drawn into the negative air machines. It is then sucked through a series of filters. Those filters remove particles of different sizes. The filtered air is then expended out of the machine. Sometimes the air is reintroduced to the room and sometimes it is moved outside via ducting.
Removing the Mold and Damaged Material
We are now ready to deal with the mold itself. We mentioned mold spores in the previous section. Mold spores spawn from growing mold. The growing mold, which is the discoloration on walls and the fuzzy or colored growth on walls, floors, tile and other material, still needs to be removed.
Using a variety of cleaning solutions and tools as well as specialized equipment and protective gear (such as HEPA vacuums and Tyvek suits), workers remove any mold they can physically get to. The cleaning solutions are far more aggressive than the mold cleaning solutions a non-professional or homeowner would use.
When there is extensive damage materials that mold feeds upon, such as wood, wallpaper or ceiling tiles, the damaged material is removed completely.
Cleaning Up the Clean-Up
When mold removal is complete there’s still a bit more clean-up. The mold and moldy material which was removed, filters used by equipment and any disposable protective clothing and cleaning material all still pose a risk.
To keep the mold and spores from simply continuing their progress elsewhere, everything to be disposed of is sealed in special bags to contain the problem.
With the mold problem alleviated, the next step is to restore the home to its original condition. How much of a job that is all depends upon how much damage the mold and/or the event that caused the mold, if there was one (such as a flood), have done.
If you are now, or in the future find yourself, dealing with mold in your home, we hope it’s a small issue that you can take on yourself. If you find that you have a bigger problem, we recommend you enlist professionals who understand the health concerns, how to correctly remove mold, and how to get the job done right the first time.