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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Mold and Moisture in your home

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

Mold Basics

The key to mold control is moisture control.

If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.

It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Why is mold growing in my home?

Molds are part of the natural environment.  Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead trees.  But indoors, mold growth should be avoided.  Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air.  Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet.  There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture. 

Who should do the cleanup?

This depends on a number of factors.  One consideration is the size of the mold problem.  If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below. 

If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult SERVPRO.

If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider- SERVPRO) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold.  Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.

Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold.  This could spread mold throughout the building.

If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water. 

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips:

Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors, ACT QUICKLY.  If wet or damp materials or areas are dried within 24 to 48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases, mold will not grow.  

Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.  

Make sure the ground slopes away from the building's foundation so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.  

Keep air-conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.

Keep indoor humidity low.  If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60% relative humidity (ideally, between 30% to 50%).  Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, which is a small, inexpensive instrument (from $10 to $50) that is available at many hardware stores.  

If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source.  Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Actions that will help to reduce humidity:

Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters, to the outdoors, where possible.  (Combustion appliances, such as stoves and kerosene heaters, produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)  

Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.  

Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering.  Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.

Actions that will help prevent condensation:

Reduce the humidity (see above).  

Increase ventilation and air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical.  Use fans as needed.  

Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.  

Increase air temperature.

Things You Should Know About Mold

1.  There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

2.  If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.

3.  Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.

4.  Reduce indoor humidity (to 30% to 60%) to decrease mold growth by:

a. venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside;

b. using air conditioners and de-humidifiers;

c. increasing ventilation; and

d. using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.  

5.  Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

6.  Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials that are moldy (such as carpeting and ceiling tiles) may need to be replaced.

7.  Prevent condensation.  Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof and floors) by adding insulation.

8.  In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting.

9.  Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

Top 10 Tips for Preventing Mold after Your Home is Water Damaged

When a home is flooded, due to either a natural disaster or a major water leak within the house, mold can set in fairly fast, sometimes in as little as 48 hours.

1.       Open all windows and doors to increase ventilation and help dry things out. If you have power and you know it is safe to use, set up fans to speed up the process.

2.       Wall to wall carpeting and padding should be removed and thrown away. Wet carpeting may be very slow to dry and can ruin the floor underneath.

3.       Upholstered furniture, mattresses and pillows should be disposed of. These are very hard to clean completely and can take a long time to dry and this is exactly the conditions that mold needs to take hold.

4.       If the wallboard has come in contact with water, it will need to be removed. Wet wallboard will swell and deteriorate and mold can set in very quickly.

5.       Dispose of any wet books and papers that aren’t valuable. Make copies of important documents and throw the originals away if possible.

6.       Mop vinyl or ceramic floors with a disinfecting cleaner. Make sure that the underlayment is dry.

7.       Wash draperies and curtains or have them dry cleaned according to the manufactures’ instructions.

8.       Remove as much moisture from hardwood floors as soon as possible. Use fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the process but avoid using heat as it may cause the floor to warp.

9.       If ceiling tiles are wet, remove and discard them. Allow the space to dry and air out completely before installing a new ceiling.

10.   You may need to hire a water remediation service if the damage is extensive so the house can be dried out as soon as possible. Remember that when it comes to preventing mold, the sooner you can tackle the water damage the better chance you have of preventing mold.

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