Removing mold is not difficult to do but it does require specialized equipment and the knowledge to do it properly so that the problem is contained and not made worse.
The basic premise of mold remediation is to remove the mold from a contaminated surface and/or home. How that is done depends on what material the mold is growing on. There is an industry Standard that defines the mold remediation process – IICRC S520. This is the basic guidance document that all remediators should use and is a consensus document on best practices written and reviewed by leaders in the industry.
Before remediation can begin the underlying cause of the mold growth needs to be identified. Mold growth is the symptom of a moisture problem. A burst water heater or leaky icemaker water line is an obvious source of moisture. Sometimes the cause could be related to the HVAC unit and not as obvious. There is no point in spending money on a mold remediation process if the cause is not dealt with otherwise the mold will just re-grow. Often times a mold remediation project will need to be performed to remove moldy material before repairs can be undertaken. Often this means that a remediation project should be planned in conjunction with the contractor who will be doing the repairs.
Also necessary before remediation starts is defining the extent of the project. Actively growing mold releases spores into the air which settle on surfaces a distance away from where the mold is growing. The spread of mold throughout a building can be made worse by HVAC systems. Mold spores released into the air settle on surfaces just as normal household dust does so these surfaces also should be considered contaminated and cleaned as part of the remediation process.
Once the extent of the project has been determined the area to be cleaned needs to be isolated from the non-contaminated areas of the home. This could be as simple as closing a door to a room and covering it with plastic or it could involve actually constructing plastic barriers across the middle of a room. Once the physical barriers are in place the work area is generally placed under negative pressure by the use of HEPA filtered air filtration devices. What does that mean…? Essentially it means we use large fans to suck air out of the work area and eject it to the outside. Removing air from the work area means that any dust and mold spores released during the remediation process is removed from the work area and cannot move into the uncontaminated area of the house. The air filtration devices are high speed fans that blow air through a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter removes very (very!) small particles from the air so that the exhaust air does not contain any mold spores or construction debris. We don’t want to pipe dirty air out that could blow back in through another window or in your neighbors window.
Now we have the area contained we can start to remove the mold. How we do that depends on what type of material the mold is growing on. The details of the remediation process itself could fill a book and is generally something that is best dealt with on site with the home-owner where we can directly discuss the specific situation and affected items. Items that are affected by settled spores are generally surface cleaned. Such items would be moved to a separate cleaning area to be cleaned and then moved to a storage area separate from the work area so as not to be recontaminated. Construction debris from the process will be bagged and sealed before removal from the contained area.
So while there are general principles that apply to every mold remediation project there are also a lot of differences and specifics. Everyone has a slightly different problem with a different house and different belongings and they have their own fears, concerns and questions. There is no ‘one size fits all’ package. The information presented above is to give you a feel for what goes into a mold remediation process. Its not intended to scare. The majority of projects are simple and go smoothly. My role as the ‘expert’ is to provide answers to your problem and come up with a plan that will satisfy your situation and your needs. And I will always suggest that you should consult your own personal physician with regard to mold exposure and your own individual health status.
What about clothing and other fabrics…? Clothing can be very easy to deal with. Or it can be incredibly difficult. We have all had an item of clothing that we’ve pulled out the back of the closet and found a few spots of mold on it. We’ve either thrown it in the washing machine or taken it to the dry cleaner. No problem, right? Not necessarily… If you’re looking for a mold remediator then you likely have a bigger mold issue than a few spots of mold. Clothing is made up tightly woven threads which essentially makes it a porous material. Mold gets into all those spaces and can be very hard to remove. Laundering your clothing will remove a lot of mold spores but the cleaning process and cleaning agents will also break up the mold spores into smaller pieces and these can get even deeper into those spaces. Then when we wear our clothes we have all that touching our skin for long periods and in close proximity to our mouth, lungs, etc. If you are a sensitized person then that could cause a reaction. While it is possible that some items may need to be thrown I’m not going to suggest you that you have to get rid of the antique family quilt, granddads army uniform or your wedding dress, etc. We all have precious items that will require extra special attention.
So while there are general principles that apply to every mold remediation project there are also a lot of differences and specifics. Everyone has a slightly different problem with a different house and different belongings and they have their own fears, concerns and questions. There is no ‘one size fits all’ package. The information presented here is intended to give you a feel for what goes into a mold remediation process. Its not intended to scare. The majority of projects are simple and go smoothly. My role as the ‘expert’ is to provide answers to your problem and come up with a plan that will satisfy your situation and your needs. And I will always suggest that you should consult your own personal physician with regard to mold exposure and your own individual health status.
If you have any questions feel free to email them to me or call and leave a message.