5 Steps To Prevent Mold

Five Steps to Prevent Mold Growth after a Catastrophic Flood

 

The leading natural disaster in the U.S., floods can wreak havoc on a home or building that lasts long after waters recede. Over the past five years, the average paid flood insurance claim was more than $35,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). From damaged personal items to the growth of mold spores that can impact the health of a home and its inhabitants, taking the proper steps to restore a property after a flood can limit the extent of the damage incurred.

 

With guidance from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration and Certification (IICRC) and the Healthy House Institute (HHI), Albemarle Carpet Cleaning shares the following five steps for preventing mold growth after a catastrophic flood:

 

Step One: Check it out!

  • Once a building is flooded from a river, lake, stream, hurricane or rainstorm, inspecting and documenting damage is very important for several reasons, including insurance and tax purposes. Electrical, gas, structural and other safety hazards present must be eliminated “before” assessing physical damage to the building and contents.
  • Once health and safety hazards have been eliminated, inspect the building and all contents. Generally, the rule of thumb is that everything below the water line gets thrown out. Building materials and contents above the water line should be inspected for discoloration, odor and damage.

Step Two: Get it out!

  • Extract standing water with a pump or wet vacuum from slabs, basements, crawlspaces, heating systems and anywhere water could be sitting. Shovel or flush out remaining silt and sand with water.
  • Next, remove all wallboard material (e.g., plaster, drywall, paneling), finished flooring (e.g., carpet, hardwood, vinyl flooring), insulation and any other wet materials that are below the water line.
  • Remove contents damaged by floodwater. Keep a record of your activities before, during and after cleanup. Take photo or video recording inventory of discarded material.

Step Three: Clean it up!

  • Start with vacuuming as much loose debris and soil as possible. It is preferable to use a HEPA vacuum, but a simple wet/dry vacuum can work. When using a wet/dry vacuum, attach a hose to the exhaust and vent the exhaust air to the outside. This keeps dust, spores and other fine particles from being suspended in the air and settling back on clean surfaces.
  • Clean framing with a pressure washer or low-pressure flushing. Scrub framing with a mild detergent (e.g. dish soap) to remove embedded soils. Wipe all adjacent surfaces with a mild detergent. Rinse by low-pressure flushing or wiping with clean water. Vacuum all remaining moisture using a wet/dry vacuum.
  • If mold is visible and remains after cleaning, additional scrubbing or multiple rounds of cleaning may be necessary. If significant mold growth is present, or if occupants have immune deficiencies, are elderly, pregnant, or if there are young children present, an IICRC* Certified restorer should be contacted. To find a local IICRC Certified Firm, go to www.iicrc.org or call (360) 693-5675.
  • After all surfaces are clean, wipe surfaces with a sanitizer such as a solution of up to ¼ cup of bleach to one gallon of water. After 20 minutes, wipe surfaces using clean water. This step helps neutralize remaining or embedded contaminants.
  • For those with chemical sensitivities, perform multiple rounds of cleaning as an alternative to using bleach.

Step Four: Dry it out – quickly!

  • Mold spores are everywhere, and it is impossible to remove all spores and potential contaminants.  All spores need to grow is moisture. To inhibit future mold growth, dry affected areas as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 to 48 hours from the completion of cleaning and sanitizing.
  • The key is directing warm, dry air across wet surfaces. This directed airflow should be exhausted outside or collected using dehumidification equipment. Take care to not spread contaminants. Properly directing airflow may require putting up barriers or containing the affected areas to prevent the spread of contaminants to unaffected areas.
  • Drying a wet building correctly is an art as well as a science. IICRC trained and certified experts know how to use state-of-the-art moisture detection and monitoring equipment that identifies hidden moisture in building materials, ventilation systems, flooring and walls. Certified restorers also understand and use the equipment necessary to dry buildings, while preventing the spread of contaminants.
  • In a community-wide flood, the availability of power and rental equipment to complete structural drying can be a challenge. If drying cannot be properly initiated, contact an IICRC Certified Firm.

Step Five: Keep it dry

  • The cardinal rule for preventing mold growth is to keep surfaces dry.  Strive to ensure your home stays dry and you will be following industry best practices for preventing mold growth and protecting the health of others in your home. It’s also a way to protect the investment of your home, since excess mold growth and moisture will damage the structure. Try to keep indoor humidity below 50 percent using air conditioning or a dehumidifier.
  • Tip: Use a water-sensing alarm (battery-operated) in moisture-prone areas such as next to the washer, hot water heater, in the basement and other possible wet zones, so you are alerted to the accumulation of excess moisture.

No one wants to experience the devastation of a flood, but by keeping mold outside where it belongs, you can limit its impact on the health of your family and home.

Cleaning Frequency

Investment

Why Clean?

Benefit

Life of Your Carpet

Dirt and grime are destructive to carpets.
These agents act like sandpaper and wear down the fibers of your
carpet faster than it should.
Albemarle’s cleaning services will clean
your carpet in accordance to industry standards specified by
all carpet warranties. Extend the life and look of your carpet.

Health

Remove Pollutants. Carpeting and fabrics
not cleaned and properly maintained have the potential to cause
a variety of health problems inside the home and workplace.
Your carpet is gently but thoroughly deep
cleaned with our rotary scrubbing and state of the art truck-mounted
cleaning equipment to leave your carpet investment clean, spotless,
odor free and healthy again. Healthier indoor air quality.

Appearance

Maintain and protect the original look and
luster of your carpet with regularly scheduled cleanings and
repairs. Save time and money.
Albemarle’s goal is to make your carpets
look and stay vibrant as long as possible, while using cleaning
agents that are safer for you, your carpet, and the environment.

How often should I have my carpets cleaned?

Most carpeting manufactures recommend a professional cleaning every
12 to 18 months depending on the type of style and warranty requirements.

However, each cleaning situation is unique, review the chart below
to see what best fits your service needs.

Cleaning Frequency Guidelines

from the IICRC Standard for Carpet Cleaning S001-1991

Traffic Soil
Rating
Carpet Owner/Maintainer
Professional
Carpet Cleaner/Restorer
Vacuuming
Spot
Cleaning
Heavy-use
Area Cleaning
Restorative
Cleaning
Light Soil
1 time per
week
Daily, or
as soon as the spots are noticed
Traffic areas
every 12-18 months
Every 2 years
per manufacturer warranty
Normal Soil (Families with
children, elderly)
1-2 times
per week
Daily, or
as soon as the spots are noticed
Traffic areas
every 6-12 months
Annually
Heavy Soil (Families with
pets, smoking)
2-4 times
per week
Daily, or
as soon as the spots are noticed
Traffic areas
every 3-6 months
Semi-annually
(2 times annually)
Extreme Conditions (Large
families, multiple pets)
Daily
Daily, or
as soon as the spots are noticed
Traffic lanes
every 2-3 months
Quarterly
(4 times annually)

Do You Have a Mold Problem? How to Know.

Many homeowners are concerned about having mold in their homes, but don’t know the early warning signs – or preventative measures – that could help them avoid a major problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is “always a little mold everywhere,” including in the air, and on many surfaces. Molds themselves are not toxic or poisonous, although some people talk about “toxic molds.” The hazards presented by these molds, which in reality are just molds that may produce mycotoxins, should be considered the same as the hazards presented by other common molds. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions. But in 2004, according to the CDC, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found sufficient evidence to link indoor mold exposure with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that condition. The Institute also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.

Mold spores can get into homes through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that have outdoor air intakes. Spores can also attach themselves to people and animals, turning clothes, shoes, bags, and pet accessories into handy transportation. If the spores land in moist places, such as places near leaks in roofs or pipes, or in any spot where flooding has occurred, they will grow. According to CNN/Money, the National Association of Home Builders says that a moist environment and the right room temperature can lead to mold growth in just 48 hours.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers extensive information on Mold and Moisture online, and notes that the key to controlling mold is controlling moisture. Although it’s impossible to keep mold completely out of your home, in most cases (in addition to moisture control) regular home cleanings, including the Carpet Cleaning Services and Air Duct Cleaning Services, can often prevent serious mold problems from arising.

But how do you know if you have a mold problem? You can usually see or smell a large infestation (a musty smell is often a strong clue), but in some cases, according to a 2005 New York Times Article titled “How to Find and Eliminate Mold”, the first sign of a mold problem is an allergic reaction experienced by someone in the home. Jeffrey C. May, principal scientist for May Indoor Air Investigations in Cambridge, MA, told the Times, “If someone feels better when they’re away from the house, there’s probably something wrong with the house.”

If you suspect you have a problem, consider contacting a home inspector who is certified to inspect for mold. Research inspectors or environmental experts carefully, before choosing a vendor for this purpose. The CDC (L7) points out the following:
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the building’s characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.

If it is determined that your home has a mold problem that must be addressed, a number of considerations go into the decision of who should handle the clean up. According to the EPA, if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), homeowners can probably handle the job themselves if they follow the EPA’s guidelines (posted on the same page).

If the problem is larger, however, it’s a good idea to call in an expert. Albemarle offers Emergency Restoration and Cleaning Services for both homes and businesses. We can handle such water and moisture emergencies as broken pipes, overflowing toilets, and flooding that might lead to major mold problems. We will help guide you through the insurance claims process, while our accomplished technicians will approach the restoration process with the utmost care and concern for your property and mold issues.

If you choose to hire a contractor who specializes in mold clean-up for more extensive jobs, the EPA recommends that you check references, and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in the agency’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings information area, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.

There is a great deal you can do to avoid mold problems, from avoiding a moist environment to regular air duct and home cleanings. But if a disaster occurs, such as flooding wind-driven rain or burst pipes, contact Albemarle immediately by calling 252.255.1477. And if you suspect that mold you can’t see is causing health problems, speak to qualified, licensed professionals to determine next steps.

Carpet Can Help You Breath Easier!

Some biopollutants, such as animals, dander, house dust mites, and mold, have been linked to allergies and asthma, and many of these substances are commonly found in the average home. It is important to understand that the mere presence of allergens does not in itself pose a hazard. The allergen must be inhaled for exposure to occur, and in order for inhalation to occur, the allergen must be airborne.

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