What is Professional Mold Remediation: 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Mold Problem is Handled Properly

 

mold

As a home owner faced with the discovery of mold in your home, it can seem overwhelming to figure out what needs to be done.  Mold growth can have many negative impacts from significant health problems to the delay or failure of  the sale of your home.  Here are some tips to help you understand the process and make sure that your mold problem is being dealt with properly and no corners are being cut.

1  Why is Mold a big deal?  According to the EPA, molds are part of the natural environment, and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors (including dry climates). Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors.  Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.  These reactions are common.

Indoor Air Quality specialists can assess your home for the presence of unhealthy levels of mold spores.  Mold can be hidden behind walls, in attics or rarely entered crawl spaces.  A home inspection during the sale of a home is often how mold is discovered which is why a thorough home inspection before buying a home is a good idea.  Mold remediation can cost thousands of dollars and often this cost becomes the responsibility of the home seller.

2  Indoor Mold Growth = A Water Problem.  If you have mold growing indoors, it means you have a water problem.  In order to eliminate mold and prevent grow-back your remediation company must identify and repair the water source.  This could be as simple as fixing a leaking pipe or more complex such as adding air circulation and venting to attics or crawl spaces, the lack of which is a very common cause of mold growth.

3  Don’t Skip Air Quality Tests.  Passing an air quality test following mold remediation is an essential step to make sure your mold issue has been properly addressed.  Some remediation companies will not include air quality tests in their services (this is a red flag).  Make sure that a post-mitigation, professional air quality test from a third party company is included in your mold remediation bid.  Without it you cannot know with certainty that the health risks of mold are gone and that it was mitigated properly.  If mold remediation is a condition of a home purchase, make sure you ask for a copy of the mold clearance test from the home seller.

4  How Should Your Mold Remediation Company Handle Your Mold?  There is a lot of mis-information about mold and how to best get rid of it.  Part of that comes from companies who do not follow industry standards or who are misrepresenting the use of certain mold remediation techniques.  This industry is pretty lucrative and many companies add-on mold remediation services without certification or proper training (we recommend using only Certified Mold Remediation companies).

Professional, certified companies will follow these steps:

  • Identify and repair the source of water leading to mold growth.
  • Dehumidify the area to return humidity to healthy levels.
  • Contain the mold BEFORE disturbing it to prevent it from spreading to other locations in your home.  A containment area will be constructed out of protective plastic sheeting and include negative air flow to suck mold spores out of the air so they don’t circulate throughout your home.
  • Contaminated, non-structural materials are bagged and removed e.g. drywall, floor coverings, insulation
  • Treat the mold with a biodegradable, “green” agent that will lift it off of the surface to allow for the removal of mold.  In larger or densely effected areas, wire brushing or high pressured baking soda-blasting, may be used (in our opinion, this is clearly the best option for removal).
  • The entire contained area will be HEPA Vacuumed (a specialized vacuum with a filter on it that captures the mold).
  • The area will then be wiped down with microfiber clothes using an anti-microbial agent.
  • An anti-microbial agent will then be sprayed on all surfaces as a final protective measure.
  • Bring in an Indoor Air Quality inspector from a third party company to test the surface and/or air.

If your remediation company skips these steps your mold problem may not have been handled as completely as is recommended by industry standards.

5  Why is it so Expensive?  Professional remediation companies will follow industry standards to insure that the job is done right.  Those standards not only dictate the processes that must be followed but also the number and type of machines necessary (eg. air scrubbers, air movers and dehumidifiers) and how long they run to achieve necessary air quality (IICRC S-520).  OSHA also regulates the types of protective equipment that must be used during mold remediation (e.g. respirators, suits, supplies).

Pricing, as a standard, is set by the insurance industry through a software program called Xactamate.  These costs are set by zip code.  If your remediation company uses Xactamate in the estimating process they have agreed to accept this pricing structure.

During mold remediation, every square inch of contaminated area will touched a minimum of three times.  This can be a significant amount of area to cover.  If for example, an attic and all of the support structures have mold growth, you can imagine how time consuming and involved touching the whole area that many times can be.  This degree of thoroughness is necessary to properly remove mold.

6  Beware the Low Bidder.  We have discussed this before in a separate blog post, but it is definitely worth repeating.  If the bid is low and all your remediation company is offering to do is spray the mold with a serum or fog the area with a chemical…that is an incomplete service (review the above steps).  Mold must be removed even with the use of these agents.  If you are buying a home and are requesting mold mitigation be completed before you buy the home, make sure it has been mitigated properly.

Sadly, we often see homeowners hiring companies that suggest that spraying or fogging mold with these chemicals or serums will “kill”it.  Even if a chemical agent could kill mold (most manufacturers of these products do not make these claims) the remaining “dead” mold is still toxic.  Leaving this material behind can leave health hazards behind.  Mold must be removed in all circumstances.  Period.

Low estimates, in the majority of cases, fail to include all of the recommended steps.  If you have any questions about your mold project, Helpers certified technicians are available.  Helpers is a Certified Mold Remediation Company and follows industry standards with all of our mold remediation projects.

33 thoughts on “What is Professional Mold Remediation: 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Mold Problem is Handled Properly

  1. I had no idea that they had to dehumidify the area to return the humidity to healthy levels. I always thought that they needed no humidity in order to fix the problem. I am glad that our house doesn’t have mold, and if it ever does, I will be sure to call the professionals.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Actually achieving zero humidity is nearly impossible. The goal is to return your environmental humidity to the same level as an unaffected area of your home. Often in water events that lead to mold, we will see humidity levels above 70% which is excessive. Many homes maintain healthy humidity levels of between 30-50% with an optimum suggested by some experts of 45%.

  2. Thank you for the help. I just found mold in my house and I am going to find a mold remediation service now. It sounds like their process is very extensive, as you shared. How long does the remediation process typically take?

    1. Justin, thank you for your question. The short answer is that each job is different. Many variables impact timelines including how extensive mold growth and water damage are. We have completed jobs in as little as a day and as long as a month for a much larger project. Your mold remediation professional can give you a better idea based upon your specific needs. We do recommend certified mold remediation firms that follow IICRC S-520 guidelines.

  3. I recently found some mold in the shower in our basement, but I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until coming across this. It is interesting how you point out that mold in the home can lead to water problems and many other larger problems. Like you said, it is important to find a professional that will take all safety precautions before starting the removal. I imagine that it would be a good idea for me to look at potential companies online to make sure that they are trusted and have good reviews. Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. To clarify Jen, mold does not “lead to water problems”. Mold overgrowth is caused by excessive moisture whether that is a change in humidity levels, generally above 50% or following floods, leaks or condensation. Hope that helps!

  4. I noticed that there is some mold in my attic. I didn’t know that it could be unhealthy! I’ll make sure I get it taken care of as soon as I can. I think I’m going to hire a professional to do that for me! Thanks for sharing!

  5. My house has had this awful rotting smell for the past month. I personally think that it’s mold, but I don’t know where. I’m starting to think it’s coming from the roof. You know what, I think you’re right about it creating health problems. I need to get an inspection done on my home.

  6. It’s nice to know that the price of remediation goes along with the quality of work that’s involved. After all, mold can be very damaging and very harmful, so you want to make sure it’s done right. So, hiring companies that comply with the strict standards is going to be in your best interest, and setting aside a good budget to take care of the job will help you to get the job done right.

  7. Home owners, and especially renters, need to pay attention to areas where mold is likely to develop, especially if there is ever water damage. It is true that most inspections are done during the sale process, as you explained, but this means that a lot of people live with mold for a little while. When mold is removed early, we avoid the risk of health problems.

  8. I hadn’t made the connection between indoor mold growth and having a water problem in my house. Since we’ve moved in we’ve had quite a few plumbing issues, and that’s probably why we’re seeing some mold. I’ll have to call a mold remediation service to help me get this all sorted out.

  9. I like your reminder to not skip the air quality test. I didn’t realize that this should be done by a third party to make sure that the mold is really gone. How long after remediation should this test be done? Should it be done a few times to make sure that no new growth occurs?

    1. After completion of remediation, air scrubbers will run one additional night. They are turned off in the morning and the air quality test is performed later that day. In the unlikely event that the test is positive for residual mold, further remediation may be required. Testing does not need to be repeated if the test is negative.

  10. I have also noted that most wait too long to get the water out. If they would not have waited so long the mold growth would have been much less, but because of the wait and see approach, they end up paying much more!

  11. What does it mean for an area to be HEPA vacuumed? I have some dark looking mold in my basement. Getting rid of mold seems like a huge job. I am gonna call a pro. I think they would be better qualified and equipped to handle this issue.

    1. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) Vacuum is a machine that captures very small dust particles in a specialized filter . The filter catches these microscopic particles such as mold spores and asbestos fibers resulting in a clean, dust free environment. A HEPA vacuum is used to remove mold and mold spores following remediation procedures as mold is not killed and must be removed from the site.

  12. When it comes to mold remediation you definitely want to work with a professional in the business. Personally I would not recommend doing this as a DIY project as many think it is an easy fix. However, this can be a bad idea, especially if the mold decides to spread to additional areas.

    Just make sure to do the necessary amount of homework on the company you plan to work with. Ultimately you will want to get a quote from a few companies. Don’t just settle for the cheapest price though. Their experience in the field is an important factor in your decision making process.

  13. Thanks for sharing some tips to properly handle a mold problem. You make a good point about how indoor mold can indicate a water problem. It makes sense that the only way to reverse the mold damage is to fix the leak so the mold won’t grow back. I have noticed that there is some mold in my attic, so I will have to take your advice and hire a mold remediation contractor.

  14. I like your idea on how a professional mold removal company will identify the source and fix it. I would imagine that if they take the time to fix the root of the problem it would be more beneficial for you. My husband and I are looking for someone to get rid of some mold in our home so we’ll have to find someone who will also fix the source.

  15. You mentionned that according to the EPA, molds are part of the natural environment, and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors (including dry climates). My wife called me at work this afternoon because she noticed a really moldy smell coming from our basement. Do most restoration or remediation companies offer annual inspections to prevent this type of situation? Hiring an experienced modl remediation company might be our best option.

  16. It’s important to check your insulation, cold spots on the walls and ceilings encourage condensation, and if you are If you are still struggling to keep the room dry, a dehumidifier can be a great investment.

  17. Thanks for the informative article. I had heard that mold could be a problem if found inside a home, but I was curious to learn more about it. You wrote that according to the EPA, molds produce allergens and irritants, and can cause allergic reactions to sensitive individuals. My husband has a history with allergy problems, so I’ll have to make sure I have a mold removal service I can call if there were ever a problem.

  18. I had no idea that mold could cause so many health issues. My son is very sensitive to allergens, so we have to make sure and take extra care of him. We had a pipe burst in our basement recently, and I have been worried about mold forming. I will have to have somebody come and take a look and make sure everything is okay.

  19. Thank you for talking about the importance of making sure you keep mold from building up in your home. It makes sense that understanding the risks that come with this can help you make sure you are careful when handling it. I would want to make sure I consult with a professional and come up with the best plan to remove it from my home in a safe way.

  20. My brother recently found some mold in his basement. He wants to make sure the home is safe to live in, so he’s looking for additional information. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a mold remediation service that contains the mold before disturbing it to ensure it doesn’t spread. I’ll be sure to share this info with my brother.

  21. Thank you for all this great information about mold removal companies! I really like your point that when we invest in air quality tests, we’ll be able to make sure the issue has been properly addressed. My husband and I came back from vacation with our basement flooded, so your advice will help us a ton as we look through our options.

  22. I liked that you had mentioned the importance of having air quality tests done to make sure that the mold is fully taken care of. My sister recently found mold in the ceiling of her bathroom and immediately called me and asked if she could stay at my home while it’s being taken care of. Once she can find a company to handle the remediation, I’ll be making sure that has air quality tests done.

  23. I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to avoid skipping air quality tests to make sure that you can know for certain that the health risks are done. My wife is worried because she found a bit of mold in our bathroom and has worried that this has spread throughout our house even though there isn’t a way we could tell right now. I’ll have to start looking into a mold remediation company and we’ll be making sure we get air quality tests done to put our minds at ease after everything is taken care of.

  24. I like how you mentioned that mold growth issues mostly correlates with a water problem with your estate since mold needs water to grow and spread. That’s perfect to learn since I’ve noticed a mold growth occurring in our basement near the water line. I probably would have a plumber inspect the pipelines if there are any leaks then have cleaners remove the mold once it’s fixed. Thanks!

  25. I agree that you need to consider if a mold removal service identifies a water problem. It would be good to find someone who diagnoses the underlying problems. My sister is looking for a mold company, so she’ll have to find someone who is qualified.

  26. I liked that you had mentioned that mold can actually give some pretty serious symptoms and could cause damage to your home. My wife thinks she might have found mold in our home and this has me worried since I’m away. I’ll have to start looking into a mold assessment company that can help us out to avoid any possible medical issues.

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