Getting rid of MOLD growth in your home begins with removing its life source: water! A moist environment, such as those caused by a flood, leak, or high humidity, is all the mold really needs to survive and thrive. So, you must first remove the water source, then dispose of anything that mold has infected, and finally disinfect what is left of the area.
Remove the Water Source
Floods are a common cause of mold growth. There are several options you have as far as repairing the causes of your flood problem.
- Check the rain gutters- leaves and debris can stop up the gutters disabling them from draining properly.
- Add extensions to the downspouts- extensions will carry the water collected in the gutters further away from the foundation to an area of less saturation.
- Check the sump pump- repair an existing one, install a new one, or install a back up sump pump to protect against failure
- Check the window wells- if they do not drain properly, install new water-tight covers
- Seal cracks in the driveway and foundation walls- caulk or cement can be used to seal these areas depending on size and depth
There are many other possible sources of leaks in your home that also need to be checked out. An old roof can often become leak ridden. You may be able to make patch repairs, but for a more permanent fix, you may want to consider replacing the roof all together. It also may be worth your while to have the plumbing checked out. Water-marks on ceiling tiles and leaky ceilings in between floors are good indicators that there is a plumbing leak. With a drop ceiling you are able to remove the tiles and check for yourself. The leak may simply be a sweating pipe. That problem is easily fixed with a little pipe insulation. If there is a bigger leak, you may need to hire a professional contractor or plumber to do the repair properly.
High humidity levels can also create a hospitable environment for mold growth. To remove this water source, simply adjust the humidity levels set on your humidifier. They should be set between 30 and 60 percent. If the air is still very moist or if you still have condensation on the windows, you may want to consider installing a dehumidifier or exhaust fan to lower the humidity levels.
Dispose of Anything that is MOLD Infected
Unfortunately, mold is a destroyer, and in its pathway of destruction you may find many of your belongings. Since mold is microscopic it can hide in the smallest of places. This can be any space from the weave of fabrics to the nooks of ceiling tiles. The objects that have these types of porous surfaces need to be disposed of completely. If this is neglected, mold will be able to survive, and all of the work you did to clean up the mold mess is in vain. Besides ceiling tiles, you should also replace mold infected furniture, insulation, drapes, drywall, and insulated ducts. Insulated ducts are a specific type of duct work that is covered in insulation. If the insulation gets wet there is no effective way to get rid of the mold. When in doubt, throw it out!
Disinfect what is Left
If you have allergies, this is not the job for you! By choosing to do the clean-up yourself, you are putting your health at risk if it is not done properly. In the process you will be exposed to a large amount of mold spores so you must wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, and a filtration mask. The HEPA mask is a good choice because it blocks out 99.97% of molds or any other particles that may be in the air. After you are properly dressed, these are the steps you should take:
- Make sure the area is properly ventilated- use an exhaust fan or place a fan in a window to expel the indoor air outside rather than into the rest of the home
- Turn off the HVAC systems because they can transfer mold spores through the ducts
- Create a solution of bleach and water (1/2 cup bleach/ gallon water)
- Scrub down any non-porous surface with the solution
- Allow area to dry naturally so that all the mold is killed off
Even with these steps, it is still very possible that mold may be present in the home. Depending on the severity of your mold infestation, you may want to consider getting help from a professional contractor. They will be able to test for mold in the home and figure out exactly what type that they are dealing with in order to kill it most effectively. You should also have a certified HVAC technician in to clean out the furnace and air conditioner before you use the systems again. The same goes for the duct work and dryer vent. Penicillium and Cladosporium are two types of mold that reek havoc on the HVAC units. If mold is still present in the HVAC system after you clean the individual rooms of the home, it will be able to circulate through the home once the systems are functioning. Only an NADCA certified duct cleaning serviceman will have the equipment be able to clean the ducts and dryer vents properly.
A MOLD problem is not something to be ignored or to be taken lightly. You need to attack it early on if you will have any hope of saving your home and your family’s health.