Did you know that the world is home to 100,000 species of known fungi? Most of these are innocuous, but scientists believe that at least 500 of them may harm humans and animals. Some of these deleterious microorganisms include Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, and Trichophyton.
What’s more, experts suspect molds contribute to 40% of asthma and allergy cases in US homes. Prolonged exposure to molds may also trigger the development of allergies and asthma.
For this reason, you should hire mold remediation experts as soon as you see active mold growths at home. This way, you can prevent these microscopic fungi from overtaking your home.
To that end, we came up with this guide covering the most crucial facts about molds and their treatment. Read on to discover what remediation is and when to call in the experts.
What Are Molds?
Molds are multicellular fungi that form many filaments known as “hyphae.” They require moisture and oxygen to survive. They also need an external food source since, unlike plants, they can’t produce food on their own.
Molds “feed” on organic materials that they break down with a chemical they produce. The chemical causes the material to rot and break into much tinier pieces. Molds survive and grow by absorbing these broken-down parts.
Molds are ubiquitous, so they will always be inside your home. However, excess moisture, such as high indoor humidity, allows them to proliferate. That’s why experts recommend keeping indoor humidity levels at 25% to 60%.
With enough moisture, oxygen, and food, molds can take as little as 24 to 48 hours to multiply. Dormant spores can become active when these three requirements are present. That’s why high humidity or water penetration allows them to spread.
What Is Mold Remediation?
Mold remediation refers to the process of assessing and removing large-scale indoor mold. One of its primary goals is to restore mold levels to natural, normal levels. It also identifies potential mold causes, such as high humidity or water penetration.
When Professional Remediation May Not Be Necessary
The Environmental Protection Agency says that DIY mold removal is okay for a 10 square feet area. Meaning, you may be able to get rid of the molds on your own, so long as they only affect a surface area of 3 feet by 3 feet.
You can use detergents mixed with water to remove molds from hard, non-porous surfaces. Household bleaches, such as Clorox, can also kill molds and spores. Be sure to dry the surfaces immediately after cleaning them up.
Remove small moldy patches of absorbent materials (like carpeting). Place the discarded pieces into a garbage bag and seal it tight for proper waste disposal.
When DIY Mold Clean-Up Won’t Cut It
Mold growths measuring over 10 feet often already warrant professional mold remediation services. Call a pro whether you have black, green, orange, red, yellow, purple, or brown molds. Large-scale mold growths are quick to escalate and cause further property damage.
The larger the mold populations are, the more spores they can release into the air. This applies to all molds and not only the infamous black “Stachybotrys chartarum.” Do note that there’s not enough proof that black mold mycotoxins in the air can cause disease.
The reason you need professional mold remediation is to control the fungi’s growth. Otherwise, they will continue feeding on your home’s structural materials. From here, they can cause destruction such as rotting, warping, and structural instability.
Inhaling mold spores can trigger respiratory symptoms like runny nose, wheezing, or coughing. Not all people experience these, but they can be worse in those with allergies or asthma. They can also aggravate existing respiratory conditions, such as emphysema.
What to Expect from Professional Mold Clean-Up and Removal
A trustworthy mold remediation company will first ask you how big your mold problem is. They’ll recommend DIY steps if you tell them that the molds only affect 10 square feet or less. Beware companies that tell you straight up you need experts for such a small affected area.
It’s completely up to you to hire them even for smaller jobs, such as if you don’t want to deal with it on your own. Either way, you should expect the following from a reputable mold remediation service.
Mold Remediation Certification and Licensure
Some states require mold removal contractors to carry a valid mold license.
For example, New York has stringent mold licensing laws. This means that only mold license holders can carry out mold remediation. Civil penalties await those who break this law.
Other states that require certification and licensure are FL, LA, MS, MD, TN, and TX. If you live in any of these states, be sure to validate the remediation company’s license.
Thorough Mold Inspection
Since molds are pervasive, they can be visible or hidden within walls, ceilings, or floors. For this reason, reputable mold specialists need to perform a meticulous inspection. This lets them determine the extent of the mold problem and also unearth hiding molds.
Mold inspectors usually use moisture meters, hygrometers, and specialty cameras to locate molds. The first two help the experts pinpoint areas that are damp or too humid. The cameras detect “leak” hotspots in your home that may be harboring molds.
If the inspectors find active water leaks, expect them to advise you about fixing these ASAP. Remember, so long as there’s excess moisture, molds can keep growing.
Sealing Affected Areas
Mold specialists need to seal affected areas to prevent airborne spore transfer. This often involves suspending polyethylene sheets from the ceiling to the floor. It’s a crucial part of mold containment, as airborne spores can move to other parts of your home.
Mold removal experts also use negative air machines to draw air from the affected area. Ducts or tubes connected to the machine channel and exhaust the pulled air outside. This helps reduce the number of airborne mold spores in the affected space.
Removal of Molds and Moldy Materials
Mold remediators use a wet vacuum to clean salvageable materials. However, they need to remove all absorbent or porous material infested with molds. They then double-bag and seal the trash to contain the spores.
The experts then need to clean and scrub floors, walls, ceilings, and other hard surfaces. They dry this completely and immediately after.
Air Cleaning and Scrubbing
After the physical clean up, the mold remediators will use air scrubbers. They use only High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) scrubbers for this task. HEPA scrubbers capture and entrap mold spores, pollens, and contaminants from the air.
Prompt Mold Treatment Can Help Save Your Home
You should never put off mold remediation, considering how tenacious fungi are. If you can clean and remove them yourself, make sure you do so as soon as you see them. However, it’s best to call in the pros if you have a large-scale problem or if anyone at home is allergic to molds.
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