What Is Mold Remediation and When Is It Needed at Home?

December 28, 2018

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A homeowner should always rely on professional mold remediation to clean large areas of mold growth in the home. Biological contaminants such as mold, algae, moss, and mildew can be very bothersome to a person's sinus cavities, lungs, eyes, and skin; overexposure to these irritants can also be downright hazardous to your health. While these contaminants can form on many surfaces of a house, mold is often found inside the home, away from light sources and in areas of high humidity.

Mold Remediation refers to a program of returning mold to normal and safe levels in the home and then also working with a homeowner to avoid future mold growth. This remediation service is needed if mold spores have grown to an unsafe level inside the home and if conditions in the house will allow mold to spread continuously, even after the initial cleanup.

Since mold and other such contaminants can be very unsafe and downright dangerous, it's good for homeowners to understand how to remediate mold, as well as when they should rely on professionals for this service. Note some critical information about mold and its overall handling, and be sure to call a remediation or cleanup professional if you have any concerns about mold or other irritants and contaminants in your home.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that consists of small organisms that can grow just about anywhere. In nature, mold is beneficial, as it breaks down waste such as old leaves, grass clippings, dead plants and trees, and the like. These materials can then degrade and decay faster.

Mold spores are always present in the air and are not harmless when they remain at microscopic levels. However, mold spores thrive on moisture, so they quickly grow in areas of a house where humidity is abundant, such as along bathtubs or shower walls or in areas of plumbing leaks behind a home's walls. Leaking air conditioners, and especially car air conditioners that don't have an opportunity to dry out, can also experience excessive mold growth. This fungus is also more commonly found in areas with high humidity levels.

How Dangerous Is Mold in the Home?

Not everyone reacts to mold exposure the same, but breathing in an overabundance of these spores can be irritating and unhealthy for anyone no matter their overall health and sensitivity. For many people, being exposed to excessive amounts of mold spores, and especially breathing in these spores, can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

    • Closing or irritation of the throat
    • Nasal stuffiness
    • Coughing and wheezing
    • Eye irritation
    • Skin irritation
  • Triggering of asthma symptoms or attacks

In rare or severe cases, a person might also develop a lung infection or other such respiratory illnesses. Some have suggested that exposure to mold spores causes other health concerns including memory loss and lethargy, but these links are questionable and not necessarily proven.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color="sandy_brown"][vc_column_text]

Can a DIY Mold Removal Spray Work Effectively?

Using bleach or a mold removal spray can often remove small growths of mold spores that develop along showers and bathtubs or that you see clinging to interior walls and baseboards. It can be useful to let a spray saturate the area of mold growth for several minutes before wiping it down, to ensure you reach and kill as many spores as possible.

While bleach and sprays can be useful for addressing and killing small areas of mold growth, these DIY treatments are typically not strong enough to treat larger areas of mold. Store-bought remedies are also not always strong enough to kill mold spores that have permeated wood studs and beams, drywall, or other such building materials. Note, too, that a professional mold remediation service will address the reason for mold growth, rather than merely cleaning up the existing spores.

What Is Mold Remediation?

When you call for professional mold cleanup and remediation services, most contractors will do the following in your home:

    • A mold assessment may need to be performed, to note how far mold spores have spread and if they have permeated wood or paper building materials. A professional will also want to ensure that the home is growing mold and not another type of contaminant that needs a different method of cleanup!
    • Water damage restoration might accompany a mold cleanup service. Since mold thrives in damp areas, a mold cleanup contractor will want to check for water leaks, cracks, and leaks in a home's foundation or basement walls, and other such water sources. These issues need to be repaired or otherwise addressed before mold cleanup.
    • Building materials that are beyond cleaning and repair will need to be removed and disposed of properly. These materials can include wall studs, carpet padding, drywall, insulation, wallpaper, and the like.
    • Salvageable materials are then thoroughly cleaned, and the area of cleanup is also wholly dried. Drying the area of mold infestation ensures that the spores won't continue to grow during or after this cleanup.
  • Depending on the level of mold growth, other areas of the home may need to be assessed and cleaned. The home's air conditioning and ductwork, for example, may have picked up mold spores in the affected area and allowed them to settle in the air conditioner's coil or around the ducts and vents of the home.

After the cleanup, you might need to have specific materials or areas of the home replaced or restored. A contractor would be called to replace carpeting, drywall, and other such removed materials or that now need a fresh coat of paint and the like.

Is Mold Cleanup Covered By Homeowner's Insurance?

Every homeowner's insurance policy is different, so only your agent can tell you if your particular company covers mold remediation costs. In most cases, mold removal and cleanup is not included if mold is the result of homeowner neglect, such as neglecting a leaking pipe, or because of trapped humidity in an attic without proper ventilation.

However, mold removal may be covered by homeowner's insurance if that mold is the result of what is called "covered peril," meaning that mold spores grew because of other problems that are paid for by an insurance policy. Covered perils often include:

    • Fire. The water and chemicals used to extinguish a house fire can often lead to mold growth in the home, and resultant mold removal and cleanup may be considered part of that covered fire damage.
    • Flood. Not all homeowner's insurance policies cover flood damage; however, if your plan does have a flood provision and mold develops due to a flood in your area, needed that policy may cover remediation.
    • Lightning. When lightning strikes a house, damage to the roof or walls may allow water or humidity to seep inside the home, and mold may then form. In many cases, mold remediation costs would then be considered part of the required repair due to the lightning strike.
  • Vandalism. If someone were to drag a garden hose into your home, break a basement window so that rainwater or snow makes its way into your home, or otherwise vandalize your property in a way that allows mold to eventually form, your homeowner's insurance may then cover mold removal and cleanup.

As with any other questions you have about insurance coverage, always check with your agent before hiring any contractors or having work done to the house, and especially before assuming that your insurance company will pay the costs of mold remediation companies!

How Can You Prevent Mold in the Home?

Homeowners can typically prevent an overgrowth of mold spores in their home by ensuring that the house is in good repair, and by giving extra consideration to the condition of the home's plumbing pipes, roof shingles and roof plumbing, and interior ventilation. Note a few particular suggestions for keeping a house protected from excessive mold growth:

    • Ensure that your home's gutters are clean and free of clogs and blockages. Clogged gutters allow rainwater to wash over their sides and then pool around the home's foundation. Pooling rainwater can lead to foundation leaks and water seeping into the house, which then leads to mold growth.
    • Have the home's roof washed as needed. Debris on a home's roof can tear roofing paper, leading to water leaks and future mold growth in the house.
    • Invest in a sump pump if your home's basement is always damp and clammy. Coat the basement walls with a waterproofing sealant as needed, to plug up leaks and keep humidity out of the home.
    • Check your home's roof vents periodically, and ensure they're free of obstructions. Invest in an attic fan if needed, to pull moisture and humidity out of the home.
    • A high-quality dehumidifier can be needed, especially in areas of the home that tend to trap moisture and humidity. It's also helpful to run ventilation fans when boiling water on the stovetop or if you tend to take very long, hot showers or baths.
  • Be careful about water features in the home, including aquariums, waterbeds, fountains, and the like. Ensure these are in good repair and are not at risk of breaking, tipping, and so on.

One last tip for homeowners is to call for water cleanup and mold remediation services if the home has been through any flood, including those caused by a broken aquarium or waterbed, an overflowing bathtub, or broken pipe. If copious amounts of water were used to put out a house fire, it's also good to call a professional and ensure that all traces of this water have been removed thoroughly, to reduce the risk of mold then developing in the home.

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