An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture indoors. A lot of people think bleach is the best way to a control a moldy mess but this is not necessarily true; the key to mold control is moisture control. According to the Environmental Protection Agency there are certain steps you can take to help prevent growth.
- Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope as soon as possible.
- Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture problem(s) as soon as possible.
- Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, insulate or increase air circulation. To reduce the moisture level in air, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
- Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
- Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
- Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity (RH), ideally 30-50%, if possible.
- Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled
- Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
- Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation.
While prevention is always the best medicine, you may find your self in a situation where mold remediation is a must. In these cases the EPA highlights 3 methods to use for clean up, Wet Vac, Damp Wipe and HEPA Vacuum. Wet vacuums are vacuum cleaners designed to collect water. They can be used to remove water from floors, carpets, and hard surfaces where water has accumulated. They should not be used to vacuum porous materials, such as gypsum board. They should be used only when materials are still wet — wet vacuums may spread spores if sufficient liquid is not present. You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem. Damp Wipes are used because mold can generally be removed from nonporous (hard) surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water, or water and detergent. It is important to dry these surfaces quickly and thoroughly to discourage further mold growth. Finally, HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums are recommended for final cleanup of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried and contaminated materials removed. HEPA vacuums are also recommended for cleanup of dust that may have settled on surfaces outside the remediation area.
Once remediation is complete, the cleanliness of the area must be verified. This list contains steps that should be taken to ensure the remediation was completed and effective.
- You should complete mold removal. Use professional judgment to determine if the cleanup is sufficient. Visible mold, mold-damaged materials, and moldy odors should not be present.
- If you have sampled, the kinds and concentrations of mold and mold spores in the building should be similar to those found outside, once cleanup activities have been completed.
- You should revisit the site(s) shortly after remediation, and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.
- People should be able to occupy or re-occupy the space without health complaints or physical symptoms.
- Ultimately, this is a judgment call; there is no easy answer
If you follow these steps, you will be on your way to winning the war against mold.
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