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Disaster Recovery: Mold Damage Clean-up

Jul 6, 2008
Indoor and outdoor molds and fungi are present at harmless levels nearly everywhere we go. Mold growth levels can rise to unsafe and harmful amounts after a water-related disaster. Nearly all building materials, documents, appliances and furniture are susceptible to mold growth. The longer they are allowed to linger, the higher the potential for health risks to those that are around it. It is therefore important to understand when and how to best clean mold damage.

Should You Do It Yourself?

Step one in mold clean-up is determining whether it is something you should take on yourself. Mold patches of about 10 square feet or less can usually be handled without calling a professional mold removal company. Professional services should be called to tackle mold growth that has occurred after a water-related disaster that may involve polluted water or mold that has gotten into a heating/cooling/air ventilation system.

Mold Clean-Up Preparation

If the mold damage is something you can handle yourself, it is important to collect the proper clothing and supplies before getting started. In order to avoid breathing in mold and mold spores which can cause respiratory problems, have a respirator available that you can wear. You will also want a strong pair of long rubber gloves that can handle strong cleaning agents like bleach. Mold and mold-infested items should not be touched with your bare hands as they can lead to sickness and further infestations. Goggles are also recommended so that splatter from cleaning agents on moldy services will not get into your eyes.

The final thing to do before starting clean-up is verify that all of the water problems are fixed. If you are still fixing bad plumbing, leaking appliances, or running sinks wait until they are fixed before getting started (and get those things fixed quickly). Otherwise, the mold will likely come back because of the constantly high humidity and sitting water. If you are cleaning after flooding, do your best to confirm that the water is receding and that clean-up is recommended.

Mold Clean-Up

Use a chlorine or detergent and water mixture on your problem areas. A hard bristle scrubbing brush is a good weapon against stubborn mold. Unfortunately, some porous materials may have to be thrown away if they become moldy because cleaning cannot fully get into the crevices where mold will flourish. Carpets, mattresses, ceiling tiles are quite difficult to clean; you'll save yourself a lot of time and energy by simply replacing them.

Mold does cause cosmetic damage. Even though you might remove all the spores and fungi, there may still be some dark stains that remain. A professional restoration service may be able to do a more thoroughly cleaning if you have items that you must have restored to perfection. Some specialists can help you get that couch or rug looking close to new again. There are companies that specialize in mold removal using dehumidifying techniques that remove excess moisture in the problem areas.

Mold Prevention

The best way to fix a mold problem is take measures to prevent mold growth from the start. Act quickly if you notice a leak or water spill. Cleaning and repairing roof gutters and air-conditioning drip pans will also help prevent mold growth.

Humidity is a big contributor to mold growth. Make sure windows are properly sealed and dry any surfaces you notice moisture collecting. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers will lower humidity levels and are available at many hardware stores. For areas where humidity is common, such as kitchens and bathrooms, it is a good idea to run exhaust fans and keep the windows open until the room is dry again.

Mold removal is not the most pleasant cleaning project but with some careful planning, the right tools, or a quick phone call, you can have it remedied easily.

~Ben Anton, 2008
About the Author
The restoration professionals at Rapid Refile want you to know that understanding what goes on during the mold cleanup and restoration process can play a huge roll in a timely recovery for your business after a natural disaster. Visit the website to read more about mold restoration, and find helpful information for recoverying from all types of natural disasters.
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