Mold is typically a sign of improperly mitigated water damage or unmitigated water damage (a leaky pipe in the wall, or a broken toilet or bathtub). The first step in taking care of your mold problem is to stop the source of water.
Mold will continue to grow as long as it’s provided with a food source and water. We can help you identify the source of the mold growth using our moisture detection equipment. The extent of the mold damage can be determined once the water source has been identified and corrected. Sometimes a third party consultant or industrial hygienist may need to be consulted. Usually the mold you can see if the least of your concerns, mold grows fastest in the areas of highest moisture content (inside walls, under cabinets, behind baseboards, ect). Simply cleaning up the visible mold is never recommended, improper cleaning may result in spreading the mold to unaffected areas of your home including your heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Why is mold a problem?
The best way to handle deal with mold is to prevent it from occurring. Properly addressing water damaged areas will prevent the mold from growing. By thoroughly drying your property we prevent take away the moisture that mold needs to grow.
Please note that this information is used to give you a better understanding of the mold abatement process, these steps are generalizations and should not be used as a guide for mold abatement. This is not a substitute for hiring a certified remediation contractor.
Identify what’s causing the mold: This may be as easy as turning off a leaky sink. Specialty equipment or specialty companies may be needed to determine the source of the mold. Keep in mind that something caused the mold to grow, either a problem that occurred previously and wasn’t properly handled or a current leak or water source. Stopping the current water source or determining the previous problem is the most important part of the remediation process. Simply wiping up the mold now may result in the continuing to grow and returning later.
Determine the extent of the contamination: Depending on the areas of impact a third party testing company or independent consultant may be needed to determine the scope of damage. A more thorough investigation may be needed including exploratory demolition or additional testing. Depending on the complexities of your problem these consultants may provide a written protocol for addressing your mold abatement project. This protocol outlines the procedure for removing the mold.
Demolition: Once the extent of damage has been identified the area will be cordoned off from the other parts of the building. The contaminated areas are sealed off from the rest of the house using plastic barriers, tension poles, and other methods. The HVAC vents are sealed shut and the area is placed under negative pressurization. This prevents the spread of mold spores to unaffected areas of the home. The areas are now ready for demolition and cleaning. Porous non-structural materials such as drywall, carpet, carpet pad, tack strip, baseboards, insulation, and cabinetry with actual mold growth on them are removed. Typically all materials that are visually contaminated and an additional “buffer zone” are removed. Mold is microscopic, large colonies can be seen with the naked eye, but individual spores cannot. Additional materials are removed beyond the visually impacted areas in order to insure that even the microscopic spores are removed. Specialized training insures that we remove enough material, and also insure that we don’t needlessly demolish your property.
Cleaning & Decontamination: Cleaning can begin once all materials have been removed. Mold cleanup is done usually several cleaning techniques:
All surfaces are vacuumed using specialized HEPA vacuums. HEPA vacuums utilize a special filter that captures the microscopic mold spores. Normal vacuums or shop vacs will actually spread the mold spores due to the spores being so small that they pass through the filters of normal vacuums
Surfaces are wiped clean using specialized cleaning solutions. Improper cleaning techniques can result in the spread of mold to other areas. Mold technicians are trained in properly cleaning the areas and stopping the spread of spores to other areas.
Mechanical cleaning, sanding, and other methods may be needed in stubborn areas such as concrete, subflooring, framing, and other areas that are more difficult to clean. In some instances sand blasting, dry ice blasting, or other media blasting may be utilized to clean surfaces.
Air scrubbing and negative pressurization are utilized to clean the air in the work space. Specialty equipment know as NAM’s (negative air machines), air scrubbers, or AFD’s (air filtration devices) are large fans that use large HEPA filters to capture the spores that are floating in the air. Steps are taken during demolition to limit the spores from becoming aerosolized, but microscopic spores will inevitably be spread into the air. These machines capture anything that became air born. These machines run throughout the remediation process and for several days after cleaning is complete to insure that the air is clean.
Air washing is sometimes utilized after all other methods of cleaning are complete. Air washing using high velocity air flow to disturb or “stir up” any mold that may have settled on other surfaces during the remediation process. Air washing causes spores to become air borne allowing air scrubbers to capture the free flowing spores.
Encapsulation is the practice of using specialized paints and sealants to seal the mold in place. Encapsulation should only be used after consulting with the company performing the air clearance and as a last line of defense when the physical removal of mold or stained areas may not be possible or cost effective.
Clearance Testing: An independent third party company will perform an inspection and clearance test of the impacted areas. These tests may include ATP sampling, air sampling, or other method. All sampling methods offer benefits and limitations. It’s best to discuss the sampling methods with the company performing the clearance test. Testing should always be done by an independent company and not by the company performing the remediation.
The ominious black mold you’ve heard about is known as stachybotrys. Please know that not all black colored mold is stachybotrys. Laboratory testing is needed to correctly identify the specific strain of mold in your home. All molds have the potential to cause health problems in humans. Different people react to different molds and mold doesn’t grow overnight. The bottom line is that you have a mold problem and need to get it addressed, there’s no need to panic but you should start taking steps to remedy the situation.