What Is Mold?

According to the IICRC S520 “Molds are microorganisms that utilize organic substrates as nutrient sources in the presence of moisture.” Well, to put it more simply: molds are little organisms that like to grow on wet, organic materials (A.K.A. wood floors, dirt, and drywall).

Mold doesn't grow on inorganic materials; However, it can grow on the dirt present on the surfaces of these materials. So this means mold can grow on inorganic materials, such as carpet if there's dirt within its fibers.

It's worth noting that mold particles are actually present everywhere, indoors and outdoors, and most of the time it's not a problem. Mold is necessary because it helps decompose materials, and without decomposers, the world would be covered in waste.

However, when there's excessive mold growth in our indoor environments, that's when it becomes a problem.

Mold and IAQ in Public or Commercial Buildings

A healthy indoor quality is important to maintain if you want to protect yourself and the people around you. As soon as you see a patch of mold or smell some mildew, you might have a developing health (and liability) risk on your hands.

If you're responsible for building maintenance, it's your duty to protect the occupants of that building. If steps aren't taken to remove the mold, you might face lawsuits from angry employees, parents, or tenants.

People who are sensitive or allergic to mold might experience coughing, throat irritation, skin irritations, or possibly, more severe reactions, such as asthma attacks. Mold exposure becomes more dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer or HIV patients.

Even in otherwise healthy people, long enough exposure to it might lead to respiratory problems, according to a study done by the Institute of Medicine

Mold growth usually occurs on materials that remain wet longer than 48-72 hours. Because mold needs moisture to grow, the only way to get rid of mold is to remove the excess moisture that's feeding it.

How We Handle Mold When We Come Across It

Where you'll find excessive moisture, you'll find mold. As a flood damage restoration company, we're used to stumbling across mold in water-damaged homes and buildings.

If you've looked at the photos of the devastation from recent hurricanes, you'll notice every inch of these properties is covered in mold— from the ceiling to the baseboards.

Flooded homes and buildings develop the worst mold problems because water removal can only begin once the floodwater recedes. All of this depends on mother nature, so this could take days or weeks. After flooding, the flood waters might take longer to recede if bad weather keeps pounding the area. And even after that, the area is likely to remain very humid, which fosters the growth of mold even more.

Remember that little fun fact earlier about how mold only needs 48 hours to grow after water intrusion? During Hurricane Harvey, water was present in some buildings for up to two weeks, or roughly 336 hours. Needless to say, that's a lot of time for mold to grow. 

Excessive moisture in public buildings can be caused by a variety of other problems, it doesn't have to result from a flood. Moisture problems in public buildings can result from lack of building maintenance, due to budget constraints or other limitations.

These moisture problems usually result from things such as roof leaks, broken pipes, and malfunctioning appliances. Mold growth can also be a symptom of areas that are excessively humid or collect condensation, such as window sills or bathrooms.

Every water and mold damage situation is unique.The first thing we do when we come across mold damage is measure and assess the extent of the damage. In instances where mold removal is manageable, we'll dry the water, remove the mold, sanitize the area and spray EPA-grade anti-microbial spray to prevent future mold growth. 

If the mold has affected a large portion of the property, we'll contact a licensed mold removal specialist to handle the job.

Tips For Removing Mold

Mold removal should ALWAYS be handled by a professional. These licensed professionals have the proper training and safety equipment to remove mold from the property. If you remove the mold yourself, you run the risk of disturbing the mold spores and spreading them into other areas of the building. You also run the health risk of directly breathing in mold spores.

If you insist on removing the mold yourself, here are some tips to ensure your safety:

  • Conduct a thorough search so you can accurately identify all the mold covered surfaces. Look out for damp spots and use your nose to detect the typical mildewy odors.
  • Measure the mold-covered area. If it's a patch larger than 10 feet it should be handled by a professional. Less than 10 feet is manageable on your own.
  • Address the source of the moisture. In order to ensure the mold growth doesn't return you need to remove the water that's feeding it.
  • Repair any leaks and take measures to control the humidity levels. If you can't determine the source of the leak, call a professional water cleanup company
  • Seal the affected area so that mold spores don't spread. Open the windows and cover air ducts and doors with plastic sheets.
  • Move furniture and valuables into an unaffected area of the property. Carefully collect all mold damaged materials in a bag for cleaning.
  • Wear protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, and an OSHA-certified mask.
  • Wash the mold covered area in a warm water detergent solution with a sponge. To make this solution mix one gallon of water with one cup of detergent. Keep windows open and allow the surface to air dry.
  • Once the surface is dry, wash it again with a bleach solution. Make the bleach solution by mixing one gallon of water with 1/4 cup of bleach. Wait approximately 20-30 minutes to let the bleach disinfect the area, wash it again, and then repeat this process one more time, for a total of three washes.
  • Wait 20 more minutes and then wash the affected area with a borate-based solution. Make this solution by mixing one gallon of water with one cup of borate-based detergent. This borate-based detergent will prevent future mold growth. Let this dry and do not rinse this off the area.
  • The rest of the area can be cleaned normally. Clean the carpets and the floors in the area.
  • After cleaning, check the area again for signs of mold. If the mold returns, you might have to remove walls to see if any mold is hidden in there. At this point, it is recommended that you call a professional to handle the situation.

 

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