We’re all in favor of “going green,” but when it comes to mold, you definitely want to prevent green from taking over your home. That’s why we reached out to Bill Titus of J.C. Restoration, Inc., who has been specializing in mold remediation for more than four years.
Bill helps between 100 and 200 homeowners each year to enjoy healthier indoor air quality, and he shared with us what you need to know to get rid of mold.
Just how dangerous is household mold?
“Mold is a fungus that likes organic material,” says Bill, “and a home is full of organic material.”
The drywall and wood of a home are essentially food for mold, and mold also produces mycotoxins, which are a main cause of health issues for individuals. So if you’re wondering if mold is a serious problem in a house –
“On a scale of one to 10 – if you have a severe mold outbreak in your home, it’s definitely a 10.”
Unfortunately, mold is common in homes but not for the reasons you may believe.
“Mold is a natural occurring fungus, meaning it’s outside,” explains Bill, “so some mold spores can come into your home.”
The key to preventing an outbreak is to keep your home prepared and prepped against it.
How to save your home from a mold outbreak
Mold needs more than organic material to grow in a home. It also needs a source of water, which generally comes in the form of leaking pipes, flooding, or high condensation issues.
“A lot of times when I go into a home, I’m finding mold near water sources – in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens,” says Bill.
A simple way to prevent mold from forming is to check your home and address any issues.
- Make sure your sump pumps are working and avoid water damage.
- Install braided metal hoses on your wet appliances – dishwasher, washing machine, etc.
- Run the fan in your bathroom for at least 15 minutes after a shower or bath.
- Open a window after taking a shower or bath.
- Inspect your bathroom tiles for any caulking issues.
- Remove excess water from the tiles or the sink with towels.
- Monitor the humidity in your wet areas and keep organic materials, such as clothes and books, out of it.
- Fix any leaky appliances, such as hot water heaters and washing machines.
- Never grow plants in your basement.
If you’re renovating your home, you may want to invest in certain building materials that can help to prevent mold growth.
“There are materials such as green board, which is mold- and mildew-resistant drywall that can be placed into a basement,” says Bill.
Durock is another mold-resistant building material.
“It’s concrete and non-organic, meaning that the mold won’t want to grow on it, so you use that in areas like wet bathrooms,” says Bill. “There’s all kinds of ways that you can mitigate your mold issues in problematic areas.”
Before starting a renovation or home improvement project, ask your contractor about using mold-resistant building materials if you’re concerned about moisture in your home.
How do you know if a home has mold?
Homeowners may notice the mold spores, such as green and black splotches on porous surfaces. A musty smell is one of the most common signs of mold, and homeowners may also have an allergic reaction or other health problems.
Explains Bill, “Homeowners may feel lethargic. They might have an allergy attack, but there’s nothing around them.”
However, some homeowners may not have a reaction with a mold infestation, so make sure to test your indoor air quality for mold. You can pick up a home test at your local hardware store, but “a home test is a good baseline to find out if you need a professional,” says Bill.
Home tests aren’t conducted in a closed environment. Professionals use specific tools to prevent their air quality tests from being affected by external factors, so if you suspect your home has mold problems, contact a mold specialist.
“That’s why calling a professional is so important in this industry because you can find out if you actually have a problem,” says Bill.
How to get rid of mold inside your home
Mold remediation starts with a professional test, followed by a visual inspection. The visual inspection occurs inside and outside of the home, including the area of impact.
“My first job is to find the source of the microbial growth,” says Bill. “I don’t need to know what bacteria it is. I don’t need to know what type of mold it is. What I need to know is how that material is being impacted.”
This can come from water leaks, including a dripping air conditioner or HVAC unit, a malfunctioning sump pump, or a broken pipe. Once the source is found, the homeowner must fix the affected areas before mold remediation can begin.
While projects differentiate in scale, Bill shared the process of a typical remediation project – mold found in basement drywall. The project begins by building a containment area in the work zone.
“We want to make sure that we have a barrier between the area we’re working in and the remainder of the home to prevent cross-contamination,” says Bill.
Within that barrier, a mold specialist will install an air scrubber, which will clean and treat particulates that would become airborne during the removal process. Then the professionals begin to remove the damaged area, including the drywall.
“When in doubt, cut the drywall out,” says Bill. “You don’t treat it because it’s a plant and plants have roots.”
Once the drywall is out, professionals will examine the internal wall cavity and remove any damaged insulation. The wood frame, which can’t be removed, must be treated with a chemical that kills mold, followed by abrasive sanding.
“You actually have to sand the wood to get rid of those internal roots,” says Bill.
(This is why you can’t bleach the surface of drywall to get rid of mold. “You got the surface level clean, but those roots are still there growing inside the wall cavity.”)
The final step is encapsulation, which puts a barrier on the wood, and an antimicrobial treatment of the workspace.
The cleaning process takes about a day, and air scrubbing the containment cavity can take up to 48 hours.
“If done correctly and with proper containment, the homeowner does not need to leave the house,” says Bill.
Revenge of the mold
Unfortunately, mold can return in as little as 72 hours if not properly treated. That’s why it’s best to leave mold remediation up to the professionals.
“If mold is not properly maintained, properly handled and properly taken care of, and you just cut it out and take it through your house – you are essentially contaminating your home,” warns Bill. “That’s why I always recommend having a professional, even for the most minute issue, just to make sure you’re not causing a larger issue further down the road.”
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