Discovering mold in your house but failing to act on it is a little like putting off a visit to the dentist when you have toothache: the longer you wait for mold removal, the worse it will ultimately be.
Small infestations can be dealt with using a range of low-cost, DIY household mold remediation products but if the situation is allowed to get out of control, you may have no choice but to call in the professionals. Inaction not only risks your health, it can also be highly detrimental to your bank balance. It can even affect the value of your home.
How much mold is too much for you to deal with? According to guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, patches that cover less than 10 square feet – roughly 3ft. by 3ft. – can be dealt with by the homeowner. Once things go significantly beyond this size, though, it is usually best to call in a certified mold remediator.
If you intend to do the job yourself, it is important to bear in mind that household mold remediation requires both time and careful attention to detail. There are no short cuts. Each and every step of the clean-up process needs to be carried out if you want to ensure a successful long-term outcome and the best chance of a mold-free future.
Mold cannot grow without moisture so the first goal of any remediation plan is to identify the water source that is feeding the growth. In some cases, such as following a burst pipe or in the aftermath of a flood, this may be blatantly obvious but if the problem is a cracked and slow leaking pipe or a blocked vent, it may be far harder to track down.
It’s vitally important to devote sufficient time and energy to this part of the process. If the moisture continues to build up, the mold will eventually return, no matter how good a job you do of clearing it up, or the type and expense of the mold cleaning products that you used.
Before making your attempt at household mold remediation, it is important to ensure you have the right protective gear. While only a minority of molds are truly toxic, most are capable of producing a nasty allergic reaction that can leave those nearby feeling quite unwell.
Safety goggles (without air vents to prevent spores getting into the eyes), a good-quality respirator mask and long rubber gloves are all absolutely essential. They will protect you not just from the mold but also from any unwanted exposure to the chemicals you may be using to do the cleaning, some of which can irritate unprotected skin.
If possible, purchase a set of disposable paper overalls to wear while the job is in progress. If none are available, be sure to launder all clothing worn during the operation immediately afterwards.
When it comes to the actual clean-up, hard surfaces like brick or floor tiles simply need to be scrubbed clean with water and detergent or a specialized mold cleaning product. The area then needs to be allowed time to completely dry out. Once this is done, you can disinfect the area with a solution made of water mixed with bleach or white vinegar, which can help to retard future mold growth. Bleach solutions should be mixed in a 4:1 ratio and white vinegar should be mixed at 1:1.
Softer or more porous surfaces like carpet or fabric-covered furnishings may need to be replaced altogether.
Because mold is microscopic, it is important to clean well beyond the area that you can actually see the mold. You should also be aware that the process of cleaning may release spores into the air that can travel to other parts of the house and start a new infestation, months or even years later.
Mold removal companies will usually seal off the area where the cleaning is taking place from the rest of the home and a homeowner can easily do the same with sheets of inexpensive plastic from the hardware store. However, remember to ensure there is plenty of ventilation in the room where the bleach and other chemicals are being used.
If during your close inspection you discover more mold sites, or if after a thorough cleaning you find that the problem has returned, then it may be time to call in a team of household mold remediation professionals after all.