Posted: February 27, 2015
Here is some more great information from Dr. Claudette Reichel of the LSU Ag Center Louisiana House Resource Center about how to get rid of mold growth in your home. LaGrange Consulting can also answer any questions you may have about moisture damage and can perform infrared and moisture scans with specialized equipment if you feel you might have a problem.
Mold tends to grow where it is wet for more than two or three days. The longer it grows, the greater the hazard and the harder it is to control. So, once it’s safe to enter your home, begin cleanup and dry out right away. If the wood in your house stayed wet a long time, it’s also important to check for decay and termite damage. Replace all soft or damaged wood.
If you hire a contractor to remove mold, choose a state licensed mold remediation contractor with special training and equipment such as big dehumidifiers and HEPA vacuums. A list of licensed mold remediators is available from the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. Get information in writing about the cost, methods and steps that will be used. Compare their process with the do-it-yourself guidelines (outlined in yesterday’s blog).
Anyone without special equipment and training should clean-up mold (please see yesterday’s blog) as safely and thoroughly as possible. Before you start, it’s a good idea to take pictures for insurance purposes, but don’t wait for the claims adjuster to see the damage before work begins. Mold can spread fast.
It’s important for you to know some commonly misunderstood facts about using bleach:
- If the area is dirty, the bleach can get spent reacting with the dirt before it gets a chance to kill the mold, so you should clean first, then disinfect.
- The bleach may need to contact the mold 15-30 minutes to kill it.
- Bleach doesn’t eliminate health hazards because dead mold can have the same health effects as live mold. Still, dead mold doesn’t reproduce or grow.
- A bleach treatment won’t keep new mold from growing again if the material stays wet.
- Bleach itself is hazardous and some people are very sensitive to it. It should not be used on metals or the air conditioner. Never mix bleach with anything that contains ammonia or an acid, since that would produce toxic fumes.
While the walls are open is a prime time to protect your wood framing from termites and decay by spraying at least the bottom two feet with a borate solution. The type of borate solution that penetrates the wood over time is more expensive but offers greater protection. Borate treatments and other fungicide coatings can help inhibit mold regrowth during a long drying process.
For most, sanding studs to remove any remaining dead mold takes much more time and effort for little benefit. Since mold does not grow into solid wood, just cleaning, and disinfecting (optional) is usually enough.
NEVER apply sealants that can slow down drying. Structural materials that are hard to remove or clean (such as “blackboard”, OSB sheathing, rough surfaces, etc.) can be painted with latex paint or fungistatic coatings (such as zinc based paints) to “encapsulate” any remaining mold and reduce its release to the air.
Restore with Water Resistant Materials.
If possible, “wet floodproof” your home so it can survive a flood or major leak with a lot less damage to your home – and your life.
- Use closed-cell spray foam insulation or rigid foam insulation that does not absorb water.
- Choose solid wood or water-resistant materials (composites, plastics, fiber-cement, etc.).
- Install wiring and equipment higher — above potential flood risk.
- Consider having walls with removable, cleanable wainscoting or paneling.
- Use paperless drywall that does not provide a food source for mold.
- Use restorable flooring such as ceramic tile, solid wood, stained concrete, etc.
For more information on mold, call EPA’s Indoor Air Quality hotline at 1-800-438-4318.