Mold damage has become an increasing hazard as our buildings get older and tighter. It can destroy your home and is a serious health risk at elevated levels. Understanding how to get rid of mold is key if you want to ensure that mold remediation is handled correctly. To walk you though the process, we’ve highlighted the most important mold remediation tips from our 8-step Mold Remediation Blog Series.
Click on the links to get a more detailed look at each step in the process along with the most critical mold remediation tips.
How To Get Rid Of Mold in 8 Steps
Step #1: Proper Identification & Work Scope
If you’ve noticed mold in your work or living space, the first step is to bring in an expert who can determine what damage has been done and outline a proper work scope. A mold inspector or remediation company can inspect the damage to determine the best course of action. However, it is best-practice to consult a 3rd party industrial hygienist for testing and assessment of potential health hazards. Due to conflicts of interest, it is NEVER acceptable to have the company proposing remediation to also conduct the testing services.
The industrial hygienist works for you or the property owner and oversees the remediation work to ensure a proper outcome. While a home inspector or mold contractor is qualified to identify mold and to identify causes, once the inspection takes place it should be turned over to an industrial hygienist for proper handling. Once a mold problem has been identified and a work plan has been established, the remediation firm must then follow the steps outlined by the industrial hygienist. The steps typically follow the sequence laid out below.
Step #2: Containment & Engineering Controls
Aspergillus and pennicillium mold can stay airborne for up to eight hours after one small air movement. Proper containment is a critical step; if not done correctly by a certified mold removal technician who understands how to get rid of mold, the mold spores can spread. Here are a few ways mold is contained on a worksite:
- Poly sheeting should be installed in the work area to isolate affected areas from unaffected areas.
- Install a negative air system to place the work space under negative pressure relative to the unaffected area. This prevents fugitive mold spores from escaping to other areas of the building.
- Air scrubbers must also be utilized to condition the air during the mold remediation work. Air scrubbers are large HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtered machines that clean the air at a given rate per hour.
- Many projects will also require special low grain dehumidifiers, supplemental heat, supplied air machines, make up air filters, etc.
Step #3: Mold Removal Process Begins
Depending on the recommendations of the industrial hygienist, the beginning of the mold removal process could be simple as a source removal for very small areas of contamination, or as complex as media blasting for larger areas of contamination.
Protocol will depend on the extent of the damage. If mold is isolated to a two foot section of drywall and there are no elevated airborne spores, a source removal is appropriate. Source removal involves:
- Creating a small containment from plastic sheeting.
- Establishing negative air in the area.
- Removing the impacted material.
- HEPA vacuuming/wire brushing/damp wiping of surfaces.
- Applying a clear mold proof coating to exposed framing.
- Sometimes hygienic cleaning (HEPA Vacuuming/ Damp Wiping) is also necessary.
In situations where there is heavy mold growth present on framing it will almost always require:
- HEPA vacuuming for surface growth.
- Dry ice blasting.
- Soda blasting.
- Wire brushing or some other abrasive technique.
Step # 4: Cleaning of Workspace and Surrounding Areas of Mold Spore Contamination
This step involves cleaning of the work space and any surrounding areas that may have been previously contaminated by mold spores or growth. Thorough hygienic cleaning is one of the most important and most frequently overlooked steps in the mold remediation process. If this step is not properly executed by a specialist who understands how to get rid of mold, remediation efforts will often fail.
It is imperative to utilize HEPA filtered vacuums when cleaning as well as good cleaning agents to ensure thorough removal of mold growth and embedded spores. All surfaces cleaned should be HEPA vacuumed twice and damp wiped twice during the mold removal process.
When cleaning tough surfaces such as tongue and groove pine or rough cut lumber, it’s crucial to clean inside crevices, cracks and other difficult to reach areas to remove growth properly. Additionally, furnishings such as tables, chairs, armoirs and bureaus can collect dust over time, particularly on the undersides, legs and backside. If humidity levels are elevated in an area, mold will grow on this dust very rapidly and it can be very difficult to clean properly.
Step # 5 Secondary Cleaning
Once an initial cleaning has been performed and the work area is free of dust, debris and other particulates, it is time for a final cleaning in the mold removal process. Despite the thoroughness of the previous 2 steps, small areas may have been missed, and mold spores will resettle after the initial hygienic cleaning.
The secondary cleaning is typically less involved than the initial cleaning and is primarily focused on cleaning floors, ceilings, tops of cabinet, and upholstery.
Essential mold remediation tip: When performing this final mold cleaning it is important to utilize:
- A high powered LED light will illuminate dust and any overlooked or settled out mold spores.
- Microfiber cloths are excellent choices for cleaning rags because they leave no residue and trap dust far better than terry cloths.
- HEPA vacuuming and cleaning floors should be a focal point of this secondary cleaning.
Step 6: Apply an Antimicrobial Coating
After the site is thoroughly cleansed, a layer of antimicrobial coating should be applied. This is done to prevent mold growth in the future. It creates a less porous surface which prevents accumulation of particulates over time, reduces future dust by preventing the wood from shedding fibers, and prevents moisture from penetrating wood.
Applying this coating does have a couple drawbacks:
- If the framing gets wet again, it will dry much more slowly because of the coating.
- It covers up improper or incomplete mold remediation, which could lead to a future outbreak.
- It does add to the overall project cost.
However, when used responsibly and in accordance with industry standards, antimicrobial sealants can really strengthen the mold remediation process and we recommend it on almost all of our projects.
Step #7: Final In-House Inspection
At this point, drying, aggressive removal, thorough cleaning, secondary cleaning, and applying an animicrobrial coating to framing should be complete, which means that it is time to get a final in-house inspection. The inspector will check to make sure that all the previous steps have been completed correctly. The inspector may find a few loose ends, however, and it is important to take a copy of the initial report provided by the industrial hygienist to walk through all of the recommendations to make sure all issues have been resolved.
Step #8: Industrial Hygienist Inspection
You’re almost home free now! Now that everything has been completed to near perfection it is time for a trained industrial hygienist to examine the quality of the work.
The testing firm will typically scrutinize the following:
- Checking materials for moisture
- Checking the overall condition of the job site
- Humidity levels
- If the home has air ducts these will often be inspected for are corrected
- Missed areas
- They will also check containment to verify it is adequate
- Verifying demolition work
Once the inspection is complete, samples are submitted for analysis, which typically takes a few days to generate results. Once the result are in the hygienist will look them over to determine if the types and quantities are at levels deemed acceptable. If levels are acceptable then all parties will be notified and a report will be issued stating that the area is ready for occupancy or for repair work.
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Complete a mold removal project the right way is a process. However, with the right contractor and the right plan and by following these mold remediation tips, the process can be as timely and painless. The eight steps outlined here will help to ensure a smooth job with the right outcome.
Octagon Cleaning and Restoration thoroughly understands how to get rid of mold and save your home from water damage. Contact us today for a FREE estimate or for more information about our services.