As long as moisture, oxygen and nutrient are present, mold can grow almost anywhere. It apparently became a perpetual issue. That being said, boundless efforts have been made against it until such good news gave a relief – molds are now remediable. There’s one thing that remains a challenge in fighting molds though. It’s the fact that you cannot do it alone.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors released a guide addressed to home inspectors regarding the mold clean-up process. This, at the same time, informs the public of the phases of the mold removal.
Hiring professionals is not cheap. Which is why it’s important to ensure that the company you hire has the experience to do the job effectively and completely. Here is an idea of what to expect.
1. Site Visit
They will start by visually examining the infested areas. This will give the mold removal professionals the opportunity to view the visible mold and make a preliminary guess as to what type of mold is present. This will further allow them to assess how extensive the damage is, how to handle the job effectively, and check for other contributing factors that need to be resolved.
If an inspector is not confident in their health or safety in the visit, it may be postponed until protective gear is obtained. If the damage is too extreme and hazardous, the expert may decline to enter at all.
Because of the potential for health risks from mold, clean-up should be attempted only after it has been determined what type of mold is present. In addition, certain precautions need to be taken to ensure your health and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. If you are at high risk for illness from mold due to another factor, there are additional considerations.
2. Mold Sampling
Mold sampling is done to gather data about active mold spores present in a home environment. Mold spores aren’t seen by the naked eye and are often determined through laboratory analysis. These samples are gathered through the use of a pump that forces air through a collection device and catches mold spores.
Both indoor and outdoor samples may be taken as controls. The analyzed samples will serve as evidence to the scope and severity of a mold problem, as well as aid in assessing human exposure to mold spores. Higher mold levels indoors than outdoors is indicative of a complex mold problem.
The two common methods done by the inspectors to take samples are surface sampling and air sampling.
Surface sampling is a method done by the professionals to collect mold samples in a suspected surface. This is the easiest and inexpensive method. Surface sampling may also reveal indoor reservoirs of spores that have not yet become airborne. However, surface sampling does not give a complete picture of the types and level of mold spores present in the air and only shows what is currently on the surface. This can lead to an inaccurate picture of the problem that exists.
Air sampling is usually the preferred method of collection. Collections are often taken in the middle of living space at a height of 3′- 6′ from the ground. Outside doors and windows will be kept closed to avoid outside contaminants or wind. Various methods may take different amounts of time. For the pump type of air collection, 5-10 minutes would be adequate to obtain a sample.
If sampling is done only once, or only in certain areas of the building, that might not show all the mold spores that are present at other times and conditions.
3. Interviews and Questionnaires
This may come as a surprise to some but mold companies, may need to talk to other family members living in the same household or maybe even your neighbors. Depending on their sensitivity, people react to mold in different ways. And, some people may be more observant visually and in their sense of smell. By talking with various occupants it may help ensure that all areas where mold growth is occurring are inspected and treated if necessary.
In a home environment, talking with family members and making notes may be all that is required. However, in a business environment where there are many employees that may be impacted by the mold, the mold expert may ask that questionnaires be completed about what has been seen, smelled, or experienced by the occupants. By doing the questionnaires, it ensures that the occupants concerns are addressed fully to provide documentation for the company and the property owner.
If you’re comfortable with the assessment, it’s important that you check for references and ensure that the clean-up is done in accordance with EPA guidelines. This 3 step guide will help you have a good understanding of what they’ll be doing to solve the problem.
Cleaning – What Mold Remediation Professionals Exactly Do
After the assessment, mold remediation professionals don’t start right away by attacking the mold itself. That would actually be counterproductive, as you will soon see.
Step 1 – Attacking The Root of The Problem
Step one is all about finding out what’s causing the problem. A busted or leaky pipe, flood damage, backed up sewage line – these can be obvious sources of moisture. Yet, there’s sometimes more than one. A busted pipe, for example, may have damaged a second pipe near, or connected to it, which may also be leaking and contributing to the problem. Until all of these sources of moisture that feed the colony are eliminated, attacking the colony itself won’t get you very far.
Step 2 – Attacking the Colony
Attacking the colony is done by deploying air cleaners. Mold spores do not just grow and adhere to surfaces but also float through the air. Air filtration and purification systems, like cleaners with HEPA filters, will be used to ensure the spores don’t travel to other areas of the building. Trapping airborne mold spores is the only way to make sure the problem is completely resolved. After the colony has been dealt with, there won’t be anything left to establish a new colony.
Simple water and bleach mixture (no more than one cup of bleach per gallon of water) can kill, clean and remove mold but professionals tend to use stronger, industrial-strength cleaning solutions, which makes the work go faster.
Workers will use protective gear as needed to ensure their health and safety during this phase.
Step 3 – Clean-up & Restoration
The fumes that industrial cleaners give off are hazardous to human health, so the company will have to leave the fans running for several hours, and perhaps as much as a day, depending on the severity of the mold infestation. While this is going on, the work crew, still in their protective gear, will begin final cleanup, and start removing unneeded equipment, slowly restoring your home back to habitability.
While cleaning will be attempted to save property when possible, some materials or property may be damaged to the extent it must be destroyed. Drywall, wallpaper, insulation, and carpeting are examples of materials that may need to be destroyed. Cleaning of salvageable property will be done using various cleaning methods and other odor removers. Or, the work may be contracted to other professionals. The extent of the work needed and cost will depend on the severity of the mold problem.
It’s recommended to do a follow-up sampling to make sure that the problem was successfully resolved. It may never be possible to eliminate mold from the environment completely, but sampling can show a satisfactory decrease from previous levels and species.
Mold is a serious problem that can have major health consequences for you and your family if it’s not dealt with swiftly, decisively, and completely. That’s why so many people turn to seasoned professionals when a colony establishes itself.