For most people, the biggest fear they have about mold is the fact that it can make a person very sick. Mold causes all sorts of respiratory and allergy issues. Though, mold also weakens the surface on which it’s growing, whether that be your walls, floor, ceiling, or attic joists.
So, what do you do if you have mold in your house? The obvious answer is to get rid of it. Doing that, however, is not easy. The mold removal process has several necessary steps, from identification, to clean up and prevention.
Verify that You Have Mold
The first thing to do is to test for mold and verify whether the mold is the toxic kind. Most homes have some sort of mold growing, though not all of it is bad. Testing can be expensive. Though, if you smell something or have other reasons to suspect a mold infection, then it may be worth the expense.
Often, if a homeowner waits until the smell becomes powerful or until they see the mold spreading, it’s too late. The mold has caused structural damage. Repairing that is far more expensive than testing.
Mold inspection specialists will test your home for mold for around $800, though it could be more. You can opt for a home testing kit for under $100, though those are not known for their reliability.
The mold tester will be able to tell you precisely what kind of mold you have in your home and how severe the contamination is. Most testers have an engineering background. They can stay involved during the cleanup process and guide the removal specialists if needed. Once the work is complete, they return to test again to make sure the removal was successful.
When You Have Mold
If the tests do identify mold, there’s still more you need to know. It may not be the dreaded black mold. Or, the spread may not yet be threatening. If the affected area is less than 10 square feet, you should be able to clean it quickly.
You could probably clean it yourself with a bleach and water mixture, though a water damage restoration professional will be able to remove the mold altogether. Professionals also have proper HAZMAT equipment to keep themselves safe while they lift and remove the mold.
Find the Cause
It’s not enough to find the mold. You must also find the source of the contamination and correct it. Otherwise, no amount of cleaning will do any good. Common causes are a leaky roof or pipe, Himifiiers that are set too high can also create mold, as can dehumidifiers that aren’t draining correctly.
Contact your insurance company at this point. Find out if your policy will cover any of the testing or removal services. Some companies may cover it depending on the type of mold you have.
Remove the Mold
Mold removal is a challenging process. You may be tempted to do it yourself. Though, keep in mind that you’ll have better chances of success when hiring professionals. A professional knows how to remove the mold without spreading it and contaminating other parts of the house.
Professionals also have access to industrial-strength chemicals that kills all the mold and leaves no mold residue. Most do-it-yourself methods for treating mold involve bleach and other household antimicrobials.
Examples are vinegar, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. This work where applied; however, contamination often goes deep into your walls and framework. A professional mold remediation company has the equipment to treat even the deepest areas of your home.
Before you hire a mold remediation company, get several estimates as you would with any contractor. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau and even the Health Department to be sure the company is reputable. Ask the contractor for references. If you used a mold tester, ask if he or she is familiar with the company.
Preventing a Reoccurrence of Mold
Once you have experienced the discomfort and expense of mold in your home, you will always keep a watch out for it. Anywhere that moisture gathers is a breeding ground for mold. Keeping those areas dry can save you a considerable headache later.
Often, it comes down to maintaining your home. Some relatively simple tasks like the ones listed below can keep moisture and humidity from collecting in your home. Without the moisture, you can keep mold at bay.
Caulk Fixtures and Windows
Caulk seals your water fixtures. Replace the caulk around your sink and tub faucets periodically. Leaks in any of these areas can invite mold.
Also, caulk your home’s windows on the outside. This prevents rain from leaking through the window and into your walls.
Fix Roof Leaks
Unless you have an attic, roof leaks are evident in the ceiling. You’ll see the water as it soaks through. If the leak is over an attic or crawl space, you may not notice until it’s too late. Make it a point to check your crawl space and attic from time to time, especially after bouts of severe weather.
Cleaning your home’s gutters prevents flooding. If water gets trapped in clogged gutters, the water can leak into the eaves. From there, it seeps into the exterior walls, creating the perfect environment for mold.
Basements and Crawl Spaces
If you have a basement or crawl space under your house, check under it regularly. Water can accumulate in there and become stagnant. If it does, it won’t be long before you have a mold problem.
If you have a dehumidifier in your basement, check the reservoir bucket or drain. A bucket left unattended will lead to stagnant water. A displaced drain will slowly leak water onto the floor, which can easily make its way to the walls.
Mold is a homeowner’s most unwanted house guest. Once mold arrives, it continues to spread through your surfaces. It can even become airborne and spread through your home’s central air system. If you suspect you have mold, don’t hesitate. Have a mold tester inspect your entire home, and waste no time in removing this toxic substance.