07 Sep Ten Tips to Avoid Structural Mold from Flooding
A few simple steps can save property owners thousands of dollars of damage due to structural mold growth, according to Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), a nonprofit organization that trains and certifies indoor air quality professionals. Taking the necessary steps to avoid structural mold growth will not only preserve the integrity of a structure but also the health of its occupants, explains NORMI advisory board member Lee Ann Billings, co-author of the book MOLD: The War Within, which details lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.
WHERE TO START?
To minimize structural mold damage and risk to health, it is imperative for flooding area residents to be proactive, act quickly, use proper personal protection equipment and implement the following ten steps:
1. Remove any standing water using a pump or a wet vac. If the water damage
is from a broken pipe, be sure to turn off the water supply.
2. Remove wet carpets, rugs, draperies and personal belongings. Clear mud and debris from floors and foundation walls to allow the subflooring and foundation to dry.
3. Remove and discard water-saturated sheetrock and insulation 18 inches above the highest watermark to increase structural drying. Remove water-damaged flexible ductwork and water-damaged insulation around metal ductwork.
4. Remove all mold growth on remaining structural building materials by mechanical means or complete removal if necessary. The easiest and most effective way to initially clean mold from structural building materials is to use a commercial wet/dry HEPA vacuum, followed by wiping, scrubbing, scrapping or sanding for complete removal.
5. Don’t use bleach to clean mold. Bleach is an effective sanitizer, but it will not remove mold at its “root”. The mold will look like it’s gone but it is not; it will only grow back.
6. Use sanitizers on any portion of the structure contaminated by sewage or flood waters.
7. Dry the structure out as quickly as possible as structural mold begins to form in the first 24-48 hours. As soon as the above removal steps are completed, turn up the heat, circulate the air with fans, and use a dehumidifier to keep the indoor humidity below 50 percent. Hot, dry air dries building materials faster than cold moist air. If there’s no electricity, open windows and doors to get air moving to speed up the drying process, weather permitting.
8. Check the attic as undetected roof leaks can later cause structural mold problems.
9. Inspect windows on the outside of the structure, checking for damaged caulking and seals that could lead to future water leaks.
10. Don’t seal it up until it’s dry. Siding, sheetrock, and flooring repairs should be done only after the substrates are completely dry. Confirm moisture content by using a moisture meter.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on structural mold, the health effects of mold and chemical exposures and natural treatment options, you can check out our book MOLD: The War Within on Amazon. We are researchers and writers, not medical or mold professionals. We provide educational materials. Please consult with a licensed professional based on your individual situation.