Hurricane Matthew left a trail of destruction on the Outer Banks, not as bad as it could have been, but for the folks flooded where flooding never occurred before, the results were devastating.
It’s not just hurricanes than can cause water damage. Hot water heater failure, washing machine or refrigerator water lines commonly fail and lead to water damage. While quick action after a flooding event is key to minimizing damage, if you have noticed the telltale odor or signs from mold, it’s not too late to eradicate it and let everyone breathe easier.
It is important to remove the mold before it causes extensive rotting conditions. Molds digest organic material, eventually destroying the material they grow on, and then spread to destroy adjacent organic material. This can wreak havoc with your home to the extent that it is uninhabitable!
When to call pros
If you have more than 10 square feet of mold, consider calling in the xperts to remove it. You want to make sure precautions and equipment is in place to protect you and your home. Disturbing large infestations of mold can be bad for your health, especially, if you suffer from allergies or have a weakened immune system. Without the proper precautions, you can also spread the mold (through spores) to the rest of your house making the problem worse.
Cleaning the mold without getting to the root cause will not prevent it from re-occurring. If the mold is on a porous material, like drywall, it is best to replace the drywall. If you were flooded during the hurricane or other event then the drywall, carpeting, ceiling tiles and upholstered furniture should have been discarded. Cleaning non-porous materials with the solutions below can be effective together with keeping the area dry.
While small amounts of common mold will not hurt you, it is still best to protect yourself from inhaling mold spores. At minimum, a facemask (or a N-95 respirator), gloves and goggles should be worn. Make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated by opening a window or installing a window fan that blows out of the dwelling.
Locate the source
Mold is a fungi that needs wet or damp conditions to survive. The first step in controlling mold is making an inhospitable environment so it will not continue to grow. So, how do you find mold that is not visibly obvious?
Your eyes are your first line of defense for finding mold. Look for growth that appears as a texture on the surface; it could be cottony, leathery or granular. Mold comes in many shades and can appear white, gray, brown, yellow, green or black. Search behind and under materials to locate the mold. The mold can be under carpets or other flooring material, behind furniture or stored items. If a leak has occurred, the mold can be inside the walls.
Your nose is the ultimate detector. Even if you don’t see mold, if you smell an earthy or musty smell then mold is likely present. If you or your family is experiencing allergy symptoms then mold can be the cause.
Don’t spread it
Take precautions in your cleanup to reduce spreading the mold spores to other portions of your house. Turn off or block vents in the room for your A/C or heat. Get a long hose for your vacuum to keep the vacuum outside of the room you are working in. Make sure to rinse the hose and wipe any vacuum surfaces that were in the room you were cleaning. Put plastic barriers in rooms to reduce spores likely to travel. Turn off A/C and heat and exhaust all fans to the outside. Remove clothes and shoes worn while working in the contaminated area and discard or launder separately.
Ways to treat
Borax is non-toxic (unless ingested) and does not give off fumes. Mix 1 cup of borax to 1 gallon of water and apply to the moldy area. Borax does inhibit future mold growth.
Like borax, vinegar is non-toxic and does not give off fumes. Full strength vinegar is natural and effective against mold.
Ammonia is effective on mold. Mix ammonia and water 1 to 1 (1 cup water and 1 cup ammonia). You can let it stand then scrub and rinse. NEVER MIX ammonia and bleach as the result is Chlorine Gas which even the fumes are very toxic.
The common way to treat mold is with bleach. A gallon of warm water to 1 cup of bleach is usually strong enough to kill the mold. You can spray the solution with a sprayer, let sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a brush to remove the residue. When completed, try to dry all surfaces.
Mold needs moisture to grow. Unfortunately, the bleach solution itself contains a lot of moisture and can allow the mold to grow back faster. Bleach also does not penetrate to the “root” of the mold so is not very effective on porous materials.
In addition, OSHA’s and EPA’s updated recommendations and suggested guidelines say chlorine bleach should not be used in mold remediation. Test conducted show borax to be more effective. A bleach solution is an effective sanitizer to kill mold on hard non porous surfaces and will neutralize indoor mold allergens that trigger allergies.
You can also mix a paste with baking soda and water and apply and let sit on the surface to be cleaned.
Caulk & Paint
Don’t paint or caulk over surfaces with mold. It is ineffectual at best. The mold will prevent paint and caulk from adhering or will re-emerge though the surface. Mold is a living organism and must be treated to kill before addressing the cosmetic appearance. After treatment, make sure the material is dry for 2 or 3 days before painting or caulking.
Contact Xpert Home Services to evaluate and treat any lingering mold issues. We can fix any leaks or identify the root cause and will treat any interior or exterior mold issues.