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Mold Cleanup: How Do You Remediate a Mold Infestation in Your Home?

Mold Cleanup: How Do You Remediate a Mold Infestation in Your Home?

Homeowners who have spotted mold growth anywhere on their property will be aware that swift action is important for a number of reasons. Not only does mold have the potential to cause serious health complications in residents who are exposed for prolonged periods of time, a mold infestation can also structurally damage the home. The faster you take steps to remediate a mold infestation, the easier the process will be.

Many people wonder whether they can clean up mold in their home themselves, or whether they need to call in mold remediation professionals to take care of the problem. Those who do plan to attempt to perform a mold cleanup themselves will, meanwhile, want to know how to go about it. Here, we’ll look at some of the most important factors anyone who knows they have a mold problem, or only suspect one, should be aware of.

What Signs Point to a Mold Infestation in Your Home?

Two obvious signs leave no doubt that mold is growing in your home — seeing mold and smelling it. Mold growths may appear in a variety of colors, including gray, white, black, blue, and green. In some cases, multiple types of mold will be present in the same area, as certain mold species colonize others. These visible growths may be present in small and localized spots, or they may cover entire walls or ceilings. When you cannot see mold, the characteristic damp and musty odor associated with many mold species will easily clue you in to the fact that you have a problem, too.

Mold infestations may also, on the other hand, be predominantly or even entirely hidden. Small visible mold growths may only be a part of a much more widespread problem, or the mold may be present so deep within your home that you can neither see nor smell it. In these cases, common “hiding spots” include the tops of ceiling tiles, the back of drywall, crawl spaces, underneath certain types of less-porous flooring like ceramic or luxury vinyl tiles, within roofing materials, and inside HVAC pipes.

Mold allergies are far from rare, and in households where the residents have not seen or smelled any mold, the fact that those who live in the home are experiencing allergic symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, a sore throat, chest tightness, and shortness of breath may offer a strong clue that mold is present. If you have these kinds of symptoms, and you also know that your home is excessively humid or has recently suffered from any kind of water damage, it would be very logical to suspect a mold problem.

That is because molds reproduce by emitting tiny spores into the air, and these spores will settle on a habitable surface, with access to water and the organic matter that will feed the mold, very quickly. Left alone, the problem will spread and deepen. As mold damages the surfaces it grows on, and fills all the tiny crevices in a space, residents are at risk of allergic reactions, other respiratory symptoms, and even toxic effects.

What Should You Do If You Know Your Home Has Mold?

You would be prudent to have an independent mold inspection carried out as soon as possible if you suspect mold growth, or have seen mold in your home. Why is this necessary, you may wonder, if you already know that you have a mold infestation? The simple reason lies in the fact that the mold you have seen may only be the tip of the iceberg. Deeper within your walls, floors, pipes, and HVAC system, mold could already have done a lot of damage. Cleaning up the moldy surfaces you do see will not have a strong impact in that case, as the mold is still present. Hidden or not, mold has the same potential to cause health problems.

In many cases, the same professional mold cleanup companies that perform remediation services also offer mold inspections. This, however, poses a conflict of interest — would you trust a company that makes its living by cleaning up mold to be transparent if the kind of mold you have in your home is fairly harmless, and the extent of the problem so limited that you would easily be able to clean it up on your own? If the answer is no, your best option is to hire an independent mold inspection only company, such as MI&T, to perform your mold inspection. Independent mold inspection companies are free from commercial bias and solely dedicated to offering homeowners and commercial ventures the scientific facts. What types of mold are present in your home, in which concentrations? What is causing the mold infestation? What steps would be required to successfully clean it up? An independent mold inspection company will give you honest and clear answers.

In What Circumstances Can You Perform Your Own Mold Cleanup?

Homeowners will often successfully be able to remediate their own mold problems in circumstances where:

  • The mold growth is no larger than 10 square feet, and an independent mold inspection company has determined that there are no growths deeper within your home.
  • The mold problem was caused by a one-off leak or event such as flooding, which has since been fixed. Alternatively, the main cause of the mold infestation was excessive humidity over 50 percent, and you have installed a dehumidifier to correct this.
  • You are willing to protect your health by wearing personal protective equipment, and do not have underlying health problems such as asthma or allergies that would make performing mold cleanup hazardous for you.

If you are determined to perform your own mold remediation, you will need to:

  • Wear a protective mask, such as an N95 respirator, while you perform the cleanup. Wash the clothes you wear during the cleanup on hot.
  • Eliminate all causes of excess moisture and having any plumbing or roof leaks fixed first.
  • Scrub the mold off using a dedicated bucket, sponge, and brush with hard bristles, with hot water. You will not need to use hazardous chemicals such as bleach unless the water that enabled the mold infestation is contaminated (such as due to floods or a sewage leak). Common household cleaners will usually be enough. This will require a fair amount of elbow grease and a lot of patience. After the mold is gone, clean the area again with a fresh sponge to avoid recontamination.
  • Dry the area completely as quickly as possible. Renting an industrial-grade dehumidifier on a temporary basis can help enormously.
  • Discard any porous materials that cannot be cleaned, and replace them. These may include ceiling tiles, kitchen or bathroom cabinets, drywall, carpets and wooden window frames. You may attempt to wash moldy fabrics on hot, but if they retain their musty smell after they come out of the laundry, you will need to discard these, too. Hard and non-porous surfaces such as bathtubs and plastic chairs will carefully need to be scrubbed, ideally using a new sponge each time.
  • If your HVAC system was affected by mold, you will need to have it services and ask for the pipes to be replaced.

As you see, portions of the mold remediation or aftercare process will still likely require you to call in professionals, even if you do your own mold cleanup.

If your independent mold inspection uncovered an extensive and deeply-seated mold infestation you are, on the other hand, certainly advised to turn to mold remediation professionals for your cleanup. While the average professional mold remediation can set you back thousands of dollars, the cost may be even higher if you do not tackle the problem appropriately. Over time, you may face structural hazards within your home as mold causes increasingly widespread damage. Furthermore, you or members of your household may face serious health complications, which will also need to be addressed.

How Do You Know Whether Your Mold Cleanup Was Successful?

Once you take all the steps outlined above to clean up the mold within your home, you could simply be on the lookout for recurring mold growth and assume that the infestation was eliminated if you do not see any. The more thorough way to check if your mold cleanup was a success and your home is now free from hazardous mold would, however, be to ask MI&T to perform clearance testing. Our independent mold inspectors will take the same steps we do during an initial inspection, checking for visible mold growth even in the most hidden spaces. We will follow that up with air samples. Once these are lab analyzed, the clearance report will show a low concentration of mold spores in your air if the cleanup was successful. If you still have a problem, meanwhile, you will know that it is now time to call in the mold remediation professionals.

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