Living in Florida means dealing with heat and humidity. A good HVAC system and dehumidifier can help keep you safe and comfortable indoors. However, there may come a time when you’ll have to deal with mold in your home.
When and if this happens, you may be tempted to fix the problem yourself. Or you might instantly recognize the mold is beyond your control. You need professional help from someone who deals with mold remediation.
But before you hire a contractor to help solve your mold problems, you’ll want to know what’s involved in the process. After all, you’re calling on someone else to get rid of a health hazard and prevent further damage. And mold remediation is not the same as simply removing it.
Let’s discuss what’s involved in the mold remediation process and what you need to know.
What Is Mold Remediation?
Mold remediation isn’t when you discover a small growth in the corner of your bathtub and wipe it away. Instead, remediation involves getting rid of harmful mold. In some fashion, mold spores exist in most indoor and outdoor environments.
It’s just that it’s usually small or minute enough to be unnoticeable and doesn’t lead to hazardous living conditions. But when the mold gets out of hand, remediation is necessary. The process consists of testing, containment, demolition, removal, sanitization, and cleaning.
Step 1: Testing
The first step in the process is to have a contractor inspect and test your home. Even if there’s only visible mold in one area, a thorough inspection will look at the entire residence. That’s because mold might exist in unseen places or in areas like your HVAC system.
A contractor will not only visually inspect your home but use equipment to read moisture levels. This can include levels in the air and in typically damp areas like crawl spaces. They’ll also determine what type of mold your home has and the extent of the problem.
Step 2: Containment and Demolition
Once a contractor determines where the mold is and how far it’s spread, they’ll contain it. This might include sealing off portions of your home or removing drywall. Containment helps prevent the mold from growing and spreading to more areas. It also helps contractors isolate their cleanup efforts.
If the mold is in hard-to-reach sections of your home, remediation contractors may need to do a little demolition. For instance, mold could be growing in your walls and behind doors. As a result, you may need to have these items removed to eradicate the mold.
Step 3: Removal
This is the clean-up stage. The steps contractors will take to remove the mold will depend on the location and severity. It may involve taking out items like carpet and padding. But removal could also mean using cleaning agents and chemicals.
Step 4: Sanitization
After the mold is gone, someone needs to sanitize the area. This often means drying out the places where mold was present. Say your hot water heater sprung a slow leak. Because of this, mold grew in your utility room for months before you noticed the problem.
Besides fixing the plumbing and taking out the tile, the utility room needs to dry out. Commercial fan equipment will usually do the trick, but it might take several days of this. Odor elimination chemicals and equipment may also become part of the process.
Step 5: Preventative Cleaning and Methods
The final step in mold remediation is prevention. A contractor may make recommendations for keeping areas clean and dry. Or they might suggest you install ventilation, including exhaust fans. Remaining vigilant and checking for signs of mold, such as musty odors, is critical.
The Difference Between Mold Remediation and Removal
As you may have already guessed from the previous section, removal only involves one step in the remediation process. When you remove mold, you simply get rid of its appearance or presence. Removal can also mean cleaning it or taking out the portions of your home where mold exists.
Let’s say you have a leak in one of your windows. Over time, the wood on the sill builds up water damage and mold spores. Those spores start growing all over the sill and the adjacent wall.
You take out the window, wall, and sill. Then you replace those portions of your home. This is mold removal but not remediation because you didn’t go through the other steps.
Different Types of Mold
Molds that homeowners find can take on many colors. Some molds are white, while others are pink, green, or orange. Toxic mold usually has a black appearance and is what most people think of when they describe mold.
But different molds have a bunch of technical and scientific terms like Aspergillus. Other common household mold types are Cladosporium and Stachybotrys Atra.
This type of mold can lead to allergies and allergic reactions. It’s usually discovered in air ducts and HVAC systems. It’s also a mold that grows on foods and could spread to areas of your fridge or storage containers.
While aspergillus isn’t necessarily toxic, it can cause health problems. If this mold gets into your air ducts and HVAC system, that means you’re breathing it in. Every time your system kicks on, the mold circulates throughout your home. You might also notice your home smells damp or musty when you run the air conditioner.
This type of mold resembles grains of pepper. It can be black or green in color. Most people find it on toilet seats, within toilets, or on painted walls. It isn’t toxic but you can have an allergic reaction to it.
You might get watery eyes, a sore and scratchy throat, or skin rashes. If this mold is isolated to a toilet, you might get rid of it with cleaning agents. Or you could replace the toilet seat. But for painted walls and surfaces, you might need to dig deeper. That means calling in the pros for some potential demolition work.
Stachybotrys Atra is the official name for toxic black mold. It’s the worst of the worst and something that requires immediate action. You should also call in the pros to get rid of this type of mold. So if you notice black mold of any kind, bring in a contractor to test your home.
You may be able to remediate mold on your own. The EPA says that smaller areas of less than 10 square feet are usually DIY jobs. This area is equivalent to areas that are three feet by three feet.
Say you find mold growing in your bathroom, and it’s isolated to a small patch of tile. It looks like someone stuck specks of green pepper on the wall. You can probably remove and remediate this by yourself.
However, if you’re not sure what type of mold you have or you suspect it’s in your HVAC system, you need to call someone. You should also hire a contractor if the mold extends beyond a small patch and you think it might be growing in a hard-to-reach area.
Leasing versus Owning
Many older Florida residents live in apartments, co-ops, or senior living complexes. If this applies to you, you’re not financially responsible for mold remediation. However, you do need to contact your leasing and management office once you notice a problem.
The complex’s staff will need access to your unit to inspect, test, and remediate the problem. They may ask you to relocate to another unit or to an offsite location. Be prepared for this and do your best to accommodate them.
If you own your home, it’s up to you to hire contractors and pay for remediation. You have full control over which professional helps you fix the problem. Homeowners can also schedule work around their schedules and may be able to stay in a portion of the residence.
But you should also prepare for the possibility that you’ll need to vacate. The contractor will tell you if you have to do this and for how long. The chances of needing to temporarily relocate increase with toxic or extensive mold problems.
Your insurance may cover damages to your home and belongings in certain circumstances. However, it will depend on your policy and its coverage limits. For renters, a policy might only cover damage to belongings up to a certain amount.
Condo and single-family homeowners usually have more comprehensive coverage. But if the mold is from neglect or intentional damage, you’re out of luck. Say you smash part of your window, and it rains that night. The water gets in your home, and mold starts growing.
You will be on the line for all repairs and damages. However, if a pipe bursts and causes the damage, your insurance will likely cover the remediation and repairs minus your deductible.
Mold remediation may not be fun but it’s a necessary process if you’ve got a problem. Remediation involves testing, containment, demolition, cleanup and sanitization, and taking preventive measures.
When moving to Florida, you’ll need to be ready for a change in lifestyle. While the state is beautiful—it isn’t called the sunshine state for nothing!—you need to prepare for things like mold remediation, sinkholes, and swarms of mosquitoes in summer!