It’s estimated that up to 300,000 species of mold exist on the planet. While most of this mold grows naturally outdoors — and is actually an asset to the environment they’re growing in — when mold grows indoors, it has the potential to do great harm. Not only is mold unsightly and smelly, but it’s often the byproduct of past water damage or unidentified moisture intrusion. Aside from this, it has the potential to greatly impact the health of household residents. Symptoms of mold exposure range from the likes of increased allergic reactions to respiratory illnesses.
With this in mind, if you suspect there’s a mold problem in your home, it’s important to take action quickly — before it spreads throughout the home and continues to wreak havoc on the health of your family.
- Have it tested/inspected. Some mold is more obvious than others. For instance, if you see dark spots on the walls or ceilings, or in your basement or attic, it is likely mold. If you smell a musky odor, it could be the sign of mold. Other infestations are less obvious, and these often grow undetected in wall cavities. While you can buy a mold testing kit to verify mold growth, consider calling a certified mold inspector or mold remediation contractor to fully assess your situation with professional certainty. Don’t assume that you can clean up the mold or remove the mold-infested materials yourself — you may be doing more harm than good.
- Identify the source. As noted above, mold needs water to grow, so if mold growth is occurring in the home, it’s because water is getting into or has gotten into the home. Perhaps you have a leaky roof or a pipe is leaking inside a wall. Or, water is getting into your basement. Perhaps storm damage led to the mold growth. Whatever the cause, mold will keep coming back unless the water source has been eliminated.
- Call your insurance agent. If your mold infestation is significant, you should rely on a professional mold remediation contractor to remediate it. Depending on the type of mold growth — and how it occurred — remediation may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. For instance, if a storm damaged your home and led to water intrusion that caused subsequent mold growth, you’re likely covered. That said, a phone call to your agent is never a bad idea.
- Hire a professional. A lot of unethical contractors prey on unsuspecting homeowners, especially “storm chaser contractors” that aggressively seek business after powerful storms impact an area. Noting this, it’s important to hire a certified, credible and professional mold remediation company. Such companies are normally part of accredited organizations, such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) or Restoration Industry Association (RIA), and remediate mold per the IICRC S520 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation. This work involves safely removing porous materials (i.e., drywall, carpet, etc.) that have been affected and cleaning contents and nonporous materials. It also involves proper source containment to eliminate the risk of mold spores spreading to an unaffected area of the home. Disinfection and sanitization are also included. Following remediation, testing will be carried out to ensure it was successful.
- Build back. Following successful remediation comes reconstruction (if applicable). If drywall or carpeting had to be removed and discarded, for instance, then a contractor will have to replace it. This work may be done by the same mold remediation contractor that did the mold removal if it is a full-service contractor, or it may be subbed out to another professional.
Bottom line? If you suspect or have identified mold growth in your home, it’s important to take action. Don’t sit on the problem, as it will only get worse over time, spreading throughout more of your home and costing much more to remediate. Of course, there’s also the toll that mold growth has the potential to take on your family’s health. Mold is no joke — and the best way to deal with it is to get rid of it.
Author bio: Bill Robinson is Vice President of Operations for DKI Commercial Solutions, where he oversees disaster relief operations for commercial large loss in the United States. DKI Services is a disaster remediation and restoration company that offers residential and commercial buildings emergency restorations. Some of Robinson’s efforts have been nationally and locally recognized in the media.