Proper containment minimizes spreading of contaminants
As part of a mould abatement project, erecting proper containment is important to prevent spreading contaminants to other parts of the structure. There are 3 different types of containment we might use, depending upon conditions:
- Source Containment
- Local Containment
- Full-Scale Containment
Source Containment might be appropriate if there is a very small amount of mould, say less than 10 square feet. We would use 6 mil poly sheeting to directly cover contaminated surfaces, such as walls, minimizing disruption to the spores. We would use 6 mil poly bags to enclose contaminated contents. The objective is to secure and remove the contaminated objects from the structure so that they can be cleaned or disposed-of.
Local Containment is more complex and is used when larger amounts of mould are observed or suspected, say a surface area up to 100 square feet. Again, we use 6 mil poly sheeting, preferably with a flame retardant rating. Temporary walls are erected using the poly sheeting, typically with spring loaded poles, or even stud walls. The poly sheeting is secured to the walls with tape and spray adhesives, or even staples if attaching to unfinished wood. Once the containment barrier has been erected, the contained area is put under negative pressure using a negative air machine, which sucks air out of the contained area. The negative air machine is equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) to capture airborne particles.
Full-Scale Containment is used when an area >100 square feet is affected, or if an entire room or section of a building is contaminated. The methodologies are essentially the same as with Local Containment, however the scale is different. With Full-Scale Containment, there is also the consideration of filtering make-up air to the contained area.
Mould: Here today, gone tomorrow!
Fungi & moulds grow naturally in the environment; they are a normal part of the decay process. In fact, over 100 thousand different kinds of fungi have been identified.
Water intrusions can promote mould growth. If the humidity and moisture levels in a water-damaged environment are not returned to normal quickly, mould spores may grow and multiply.
Organic materials found indoors, such as wood, paper, drywall, and some types of insulation provide food for moulds to grow and flourish.
Health Canada advises that small to medium patches of mould can be cleaned by the occupant, but should consider the help of a professional in situations of excessive mould growth.
We will always recommend seeking advice of an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to provide independent testing to (1) Confirm the existence and spread of mould and (2) Confirm that it has been cleaned up correctly. Even if we suspect mould, we cannot formally confirm it without lab tests.
Mold in Your Home - Risks, Causes, and Safe Mold Removal Solutions
Mold can spread through your home within 48-hours if certain conditions are present, requiring urgent mold removal. Mold can be present in your home without you even realizing it. That is, until you start smelling a strange odor or notice watermarks on a wall.
So, what are the risks and causes of mold? More importantly, what safe mold removal solutions must you implement to solve the problem?
4 Signs That You Have Mold in Your Home
Mold is a fungus that grows in damp, dark, and humid indoor environments where there is excess moisture. It is always a good idea to inspect a few places in your home to see if you have mold. The most common places where you are most likely to find mold include the basement, under or behind stored items, under the kitchen or bathroom sink, closets, the bottom edge of windows, the wall or floor next to the bathtub or shower, the roof, and any other damp places in your home.
There are a few signs that will indicate the possible presence of mold in your home, including an unpleasant odor, visible mold, watermarks, peeling, and warped paint.
A musty smell is a good indication there is mold in your home. Mold smells like decaying wood or rotting leaves in a damp, dense forest. Some even compare it to the smell of wet socks or rotten paper.
Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy and appears as irregularly shaped spots. It can be blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black or white in color. However, not all mold is visible as it can grow inside walls and above ceiling tiles, wherever there is damp or water damage.
Watermarks are an indication there is water within the walls of your home. It might be more easily visible on the bottom edge of the walls. With drywall and wooden walls, the marks are usually more visible, but less so with brick or tiled walls.
Peeling or warped paint is an indication there is moisture in a wall, and if the cause of the moisture is not attended to, mold will grow in the wet patch. This might require the removal of a section of the affected wall to see what is happening on the inside.
Stachybotrys chartarum, better known as black mold, is most often found on cellulose-rich materials such as fibreboard, drywall, and gypsum board, and carries the same risk as any other mold. Mildew can also sometimes be confused with black mold. If you are concerned about the black mold growth in your home, safe mold removal solutions such as hiring a professional company must be sought.
How to Prevent Mold and What to Do If You Find It
There are various ways in which you can prevent mold from growing in your home, which include the following:
- Eliminate sources of dampness in basements (pipe leaks, groundwater seepage, and so on),
- Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50%,
- Use an air conditioner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment,
- Change the filters on your air conditioners and furnaces regularly,
- Properly ventilate all bathrooms and ideally open a window after use,
- Avoid carpeting in bathrooms and basements,
- Promote groundwater drainage away from your home,
- Keep organic plant containers made from wicker, straw or hemp clean and dry,
- Recycle old books and newspapers,
- Use anti-mold paint, and
- Whenever possible, let fresh air and sunlight into your home.
Sometimes a mold infestation is so big a professional mold removal company must be appointed to perform mold remediation. But, what to do until the mold removal services take place? Here are some tips to follow until help arrives:
- Stay out of the affected areas,
- Turn off fans as well as the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system,
- Don’t touch or disturb the mold,
- Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth,
- Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself, and
- Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.
What Is Mold Allergy Season?
There are some seasons when mold allergies are more prevalent. Knowing which seasons these are can help you manage the ways spores enter your home and create a greater awareness of mold growth. The following seasons are more likely to be affected by a higher rate of allergies:
Alternaria mold allergy season is generally from late spring to summer. The Alternaria mold genus, consisting of fifty species, is an outdoor mold found on plants, trees, grasses, and soil. Most indoor mold infestations are caused by spores transferred into the home through windows, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, your clothing, and even your beloved pet.
If there are several areas in your home showing evidence of mold, check for leaks or moisture problems and call the professionals for mold remediation/removal. In the event that the infestation is small, you can remove it. However, you must wear safety equipment (goggles, gloves, and a mask) as spores will fly around when you scrub the moldy area. And, remember to wash your safety gear after use.
- Late Winter to Early Spring
Snow mold allergies start in late winter to early spring. During the winter, winds bring mold spores that are absorbed by falling snow becoming layered in the snowpack. When the snow then melts in the early spring, these mold spores are released into the air. When the snow melts and the earth is exposed for the first time in months, mold is found in the ground and is also released into the air. A snow mold allergy is all but guaranteed with mold found everywhere.
The symptoms and solutions for both Alternaria mold allergy season and snow mold allergy season are the same. Besides taking medications prescribed by your doctor, surviving mold allergy season is possible by strengthening your body’s defense system, staying inside when allergen levels are at their highest as well as allergy-proofing your home as much as possible.
Can You Ever Remove Mold Completely?
Because microscopic mold spores occur everywhere, naturally, removing all mold from a home is impossible. Remediation of mold infected areas (including black mold) when there is an infestation, is the only solution. Remediation is the best way to get rid of mold, but before mold remediation can begin the reason for the presence of water or moisture must be addressed, or the mold will simply return.
A standard remediation process to properly remove mold includes:
- Inspection and Mold Damage Assessment
A thorough inspection is done.
Various containment procedures are used to prevent the spread of mold. This might include advanced containment procedures such as negative air chambers that isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the clean-up process. All fans, heating, and cooling systems will also be turned off.
Specialized filtration equipment such as “air scrubbers” and HEPA vacuums will capture the microscopic mold spores out of the air, preventing further spreading during the remediation process.
- Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials
The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. It may be necessary to remove and dispose of mold-infested porous materials such as drywall and carpeting to remediate heavy mold growth.
- Cleaning Contents And Belongings
Furniture, decorative items, curtains, clothing, and other restorable items affected by mold are cleaned and disinfected through a variety of cleaning techniques. Odors are removed with specialized techniques, and deodorization is done using fogging equipment.
Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may have been removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.
Common Causes of Mold in the Home
The main cause of mold is excess moisture and, therefore, before a mold removal company can perform mold remediation, the reason for the excess moisture must be resolved. Here are some of the most common causes of mold in the home:
Humidity plays a big role in the development of mold. This is evident in the mold you will commonly find in the bathroom, basement or around windows. Use a dehumidifier or fan to decrease mold growth.
Leaky pipes that go undetected for quite some time, cracks in a basement wall that cause moisture to seep into the house, and inefficient window seals are moisture sources that can lead to mold growth.
Water from outside the home can result in mold, whether from a sprinkler system that consistently sprays against the house wall or an unexpected natural disaster such as a flood.
Regular ventilation is a good way to remove moisture. So, when the weather allows, open the doors and windows of your home to promote air circulation. If you prefer not to open your windows, turn on your air conditioner to ensure air runs through the whole house. Then there will be no need for mold detection.
What Happens During a Professional Mold Inspection?
During a professional mold inspection and mold damage assessment, your property will be carefully inspected for visible signs of mold, with various technologies used to detect hidden water sources that might result in mold. When you select a mold remediation company, remember to inquire if they are an IICRC certified firm. The IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) is a global non-profit organization for the cleaning and restoration industry.
How Much Does Mold Remediation Cost?
The cost of mold removal depends on the damage caused, as every incident requires a unique solution. Once the professional mold inspection is completed, a more accurate assessment can be given on the extent of the remediation process required.
How to Find a Professional Mold Remediation Company
It is always best to find a professional mold remediation company that is a local service provider with professionals on call 24/7 in the event of an emergency. Consideration should also be given to whether this company works with major insurance companies.
SERVPRO of Milton S.E. / Sonoma is a locally owned and operated business and are on-call 24/7 for the communities of Milton S.E., Sonoma, and surrounding areas. Services include not only mold remediation but also water, storm, and fire damage repair and restoration for residential and commercial properties. Found mold in your home? Contact SERVPRO of Milton S.E. / Sonoma for the most professional mold removal services.
Mould in the Attic
A cursory inspection of an attic will often find evidence of staining on the sheath, which may be a sign of mould growth.
Selling Your Home?
We run across this situation regularly. As part of a typical home purchase process, the buyer will have a home inspector provide a report on potential deficiencies. As part of the inspection, they will check the attic. Often, signs of discoloration on the sheathing will be identified as mould.
Unfortunately, most home inspectors fail to follow the IICRC-S520 protocol, which requires that the presence of mould be confirmed by laboratory tests, performed by in independent Indoor Environmental Profession.
The result is that the seller is left to scramble to get the attic remediated or the sale might fall-through, which is usually the case.
The better option is to get the attic treated before the house is listed. This will save you a lot of time, money, and grief.
At SERVPRO of Milton & North Oakville, we have a variety of treatment options that can be tailored to fit your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Understanding Decontamination Chambers
There are 2 types of decontamination chambers we typically add on to a contained and contaminated space:
- Clean Room - Where PPE is stored and workers suit-up (donning PPE)
- Pass Through - Where workers remove their PPE (doffing PPE)
We will typically use a combination of 1-3 decontamination chambers, depending upon the extend, degree, and type of contamination, also taking into consideration the available space, type of building, and the occupants. For example 3 chambers might be advisable when the occupants of the structure pose a higher risk for health effects (e.g. if somebody has asthma), while only 1 chamber might be called for when decontaminating part of an empty warehouse.
A Single Decontamination Chamber is a multi-purpose room used for donning and doffing PPE, as well as storage, double bagging, and other functions.
A Double Decontamination Chamber would include a Clean Room and a Pass Through.
A Triple Decontamination Chamber would include a Clean Room, a Shower, and a Pass through.
Each decontamination chamber would also be under slightly negative air pressure, compared to the adjacent chamber. We typically measure negative air pressure using a manometer, measuring relative pressure in inches of water, using the units of wc (water column). In order to maintain negative pressure, we would like each chamber to have 0.02 - 0.04 wc less than the previous chamber.
[Clean Room][Shower][Pass Thru][Contaminated Area]
[ -0.02 wc][-0.04 wc][-0.06 wc][-0.08 wc]
Dealing With Attic Mould
A very common call from realtors is to address mould found in an attic. This can get tricky. A typical situation is that a home inspector has been through, popped into the attic and noticed some visible staining on the sheathing. We often get the message that the inspector has identified it as mould and it needs to be cleaned.
Often the closing is contingent on this.
Many problems exist with this approach. First of all, it is a deviation form the IICRC-S520 Mould Remediation standard, which states that mould can only be identified by testing in a qualified lab. Unfortunately, many home inspectors overlook this, and identify what may or may not be mould based solely upon a visual inspection.
Nevertheless, the closing requires a clearance certificate and the only way to generate that is by following the standard: (1) Test for mould, (2) Remediate, (3) Test to confirm successful remediation (clearance). The length of time and cost of following the standard usually exceeds the time limit on the offer, so many deals fall through.
Our recommendation: have the property inspected prior to listing. If there are concerns about mould, deal with it beforehand. It could save you thousands in the long run.