What Is Mold Remediation?
Mold remediation is the process of removing mold and preventing it’s regrowth. While many people can safely remove mold themselves using a DIY approach, severe cases require a professional.
Mold removal professionals inspect and test your home for mold, discover what kind of mold is present and use techniques that work best on common mold types, including black mold, pink mold and aspergillus mold. Mold removal companies with IICRC certified technicians use industry-standard procedures and tools to ensure mold is removed fully and disposed of safely.
Removing mold safely is essential. Being exposed to mold or handling mold improperly can lead to unpleasant health problems, like itching, eyes, irritated skin and even respiratory issues. Long-term exposure can put you and your family at risk of more severe illnesses.
Having a professional remove indoor mold will reduce the risk of it coming back and continuing to cause problems.
Mold Inspection and Testing
The first step in remediating mold is inspecting the home to identify where the mold is growing. By the time the homeowner calls a professional, they usually already know where the mold is growing—visible mold is easy to spot and even hidden mold gives off a musty odor. However, the full extent of mold growth may not be known until a professional uses a testing kit.
Mold removal technicians test for mold using surface sampling tools and air quality monitors. Using thermal imaging and infrared cameras, professionals also look for hidden water leaks and damp areas that may be harboring mold. Finally, they examine high-risk areas for signs of mold contamination, such as attics, bathrooms, kitchens, crawl spaces, windows and carpeted areas.
Once the technician knows the full extent of mold growth, they can devise a plan to safely remove it and prevent it from returning.
Mold testing is often a separate cost than mold removal, so be sure to clarify the company’s rates and services.
Removing Mold-Covered Materials
The mold cleanup process varies depending on the size and location of the contaminated area(s). For smaller areas, you can remove mold yourself if you feel comfortable. For areas larger than ten square feet, a professional is recommended.
If the mold growth is caused by standing water, such as from a burst pipe, flooded basement or other water sources, the technicians will remove the water with industrial HEPA vacuums and immediately begin drying out the area with fans and dehumidifiers.
Many mold removal companies also provide water damage restoration services, since these events often go hand-in-hand.
After water removal (if needed), professionals rip up and dispose of badly affected materials that cannot be appropriately cleaned and restored. In severe cases, drywall, ceiling panels, baseboards, carpeting, flooring and subflooring are damaged beyond repair. Mold damage might also include cabinets, countertops and bathroom tiles.
Absorbent and porous materials, like wood, carpet and ceramic, are typically unsalvageable if infested with mold. Non-porous items, such as glass and metal, can usually be cleaned and reused. Experts can help you determine what can be restored and what needs to be removed.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Once the unsalvageable materials are removed from the home, technicians get to work cleaning the remaining mold from restorable surfaces. Mold cleanup can usually be done within a few days.
The cleaning and disinfecting step of the mold remediation process typically involves:
- Sealing off the work area to contain mold spores and prevent them from spreading
- Disinfecting with a biocide—an EPA-approved mold-killing liquid
- Cleaning and wiping down surfaces of remaining mold residue
- Disposing of the mold safely in sealed bags or containers
- Vacuuming and air-scrubbing with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system
Cleaning the air with HEPA air scrubbers replaces stale air with fresh air through ventilation. After the initial day of cleaning, professionals will then spray the area with a washing agent that encases any remaining mold spores, preventing them from growing. The secondary wash also makes the affected area more resistant to future water damage and mold problems.
Mold Damage Restoration
Once the mold has been removed and your home has been disinfected, you’ll want to begin the mold restoration process. Because technicians may have ripped up contaminated building materials, your home may require new drywall, carpets, flooring or more.
If the mold was caused by water damage, ensure there’s no structural damage done to your home. Hire a structural engineer or contractor to assess the integrity of your roof, foundation or load-bearing walls.
A general contractor will replace drywall, framing and other construction materials to restore or reconstruct your home. This process can take a few days to a few months, depending on the extent of the damage.
How to Get Rid of Mold (DIY Approach)
In some minor cases, mold cleanup can be done without hiring mold abatement professionals. It’s important to take some precautionary steps to protect yourself while cleaning and disposing of mold.
Wearing protective equipment safeguards you from the health hazards associated with mold. Additionally, you’ll want to carefully select mold removal products that will adequately kill mold and prevent its return.
Use Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment and clothing are necessary while cleaning and disposing of the contaminants. Make sure you don’t inhale any disturbed mold spores, so cover your mouth and nose.
At a minimum, use the following PPE to protect yourself during mold removal:
- Respirators or dust-filtered masks
- Disposable coveralls
Dispose of or thoroughly clean your protective equipment once you’re done with remediation.
Select Mold Removal Products
Common household cleaning products can help rid your home of mold and mildew. You may have most of these products at home already.
Some of the best mold removal products for the DIY approach include:
Mold is known for returning after removal, often with a vengeance. You may need to completely remove and dispose of some of the mold-infested materials in your home if they are porous.
Dispose of Mold Safely
Disposing of mold safely is essential to preventing spores from spreading. Place all materials into a sealable bag and remove them from your home through the closest exit point—an exterior door or window.
Avoid carrying moldy items through your home, minimizing the amount of microbial mold spores being released into the air. Put the mold-infested items into a dumpster and refrain from transporting any materials in your vehicle.
Mold Prevention Tips
There are a few steps you can take to prevent mold from occurring in your home and regrowing in the future. Many homes are susceptible to continuous mold growth, even after it’s been carefully removed. It’s essential to dry and seal your home correctly to discourage a mold-cultivating environment.
Monitor Indoor Humidity Levels
Mold grows where there is moisture, particularly in areas prone to flooding—pipes, roofs, window sills, basements and crawl spaces. Use an indoor humidity and air quality monitor to alert you to mold-promoting conditions.
Encourage Ventilation and Airflow
Always use ventilation and exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom, as these are designed to help with mold mitigation. Additionally, keep bedroom doors open whenever possible and open windows in the day if it’s not too cold. In humid climates, use an HVAC system to reduce moisture and circulate indoor air.
Replace Carpets in High-Moisture Areas
Replace carpets in moisture-prone areas with laminate, vinyl or wood flooring. As a precaution, remove carpets or upholstery that have been exposed to moisture or flooding that cannot be dried quickly.
Use Mold-Killing Products Regularly
There are also many mold-killing products that homeowners can regularly use for mold prevention. You can also add mold inhibitors to paint, purchased at home improvement stores, before painting your walls.\
Mold Remediation Cost
The mold remediation cost varies depending on the severity of the case and your local area. When taking the DIY approach, mold remediation will cost you nothing more than the price of a bottle of bleach and some protective equipment.
Professional mold removal services tackle not just the current mold issue, but also help with prevention. Mold remediation services can cost between $500 to over $30,000, with the higher cost involving extensive repairs such as structural damage.
If you suspect mold because your family has become sensitive to allergens or is experiencing other health effects, you might want to have your home tested or inspected. Inspections are generally not included in the removal cost since they’re a separate service. However, if you already know you have mold because you can see and smell it, then an inspection is unnecessary.
Some homeowners’ insurance policies will cover the cost of mold removal, generally only when the mold infestation is caused by an emergency already covered on your policy, like storm damage or a sudden pipe burst.
Insurance companies are unlikely to cover the removal cost if the mold is linked to consistent moisture problems or delayed maintenance. Additionally, you may not necessarily have coverage if the mold is caused by flooding unless you also have flood insurance. It’s essential to review your policy to ensure you’re fully protected.
Hiring a Mold Removal Company
Hiring a professional company may be the best solution for mold remediation. If the mold growth is extensive or caused by water damage, it will likely need an expert to be removed permanently. Additionally, a professional might be required if you’ve already tried to rid your home of mold but it has since returned or spread.
If you have mold in your home, contact a mold removal company right away. Find a local mold remediation service near you.