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How Do I Get Rid Of Mold?

Getting rid of mold is an easy task if it's a small area of mold growth in your home. If it is a large area (in the flooring, cabinets or walls), it could be a whole new construction process. New construction in my home? Yes! Mold is a monster that eats, devours and destroys whatever is in it's path. The spores actually kill the surface as they breed and multiply. When your wood, flooring or drywall is mold infested, it has to be removed. There is no such thing as keeping a mold infested cabinet. (You could keep the cabinet if the damage was minimal and just a small portion needed to be cleaned but otherwise it would have to be thrown away.) I have heard stories of families throwing out heirlooms, bedding, clothing, pictures, furniture and more. Failure to completely remove the mold from your home can cause the mold to grow again. And believe me, if you have to go through mold remediation once, you will not want to have to go through that again. The reason is, if your mold is toxic, it involves moving out of your home until the mold remediation is complete. Yes. And it's not uncommon! Thousands of people across America have had to leave their homes and stay at hotels or with family; it is a huge inconvenience to everyone. I have heard stories from people in Texas that have had to move out of their home for a whole year! None of us want to suffer through that.

Mold Cleanup
If you already have a mold problem - ACT QUICKLY. Mold damages wherever it grows. The longer it grows, the more damage it can cause. You can call a certified inspector (go to www.moldinspector.com or just look in your local yellow pages). Check references and get three bids from three separate inspectors just as you would for any home improvement. In October 2002 I attended a mold remediation class in Utah. The class cost about $1300 and took two days. (These classes are offered very frequently). If you have a serious problem, I would recommend the training to help you with the remediation process, especially if you want to save the money and do it yourself. If you are unable to take a class and you still want to do the mold remediation yourself, your next option is to buy a book.

How do I decide who should do the cleanup?
(The following information is an excerpt from the EPA mold cleanup guidelines.)

Deciding who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you could handle the job yourself (following the guidelines below).

However, if there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: (EPA) Guide-Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although the guide focuses on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types. It is available free by calling the EPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse at (800) 438-4318, or from the EPA website (www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/mold_remediation.html).

If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in the EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings Guide, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations which address mold remediation.

If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA's Guide "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?" before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold throughout the building. Visit www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html, or call (800) 438-4318 for a free copy.

If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.

If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.

Mold Cleanup Guidelines:.

Cleaning the mold involves using a cleaning agent that will kill the mold. The mold inspector recommends BORAX and another chemical they sell. The National Allergy Supply Company has two or three chemicals that get rid of mold and inhibit growth for up to two years. It pays to research the chemicals available to clean up mold. I have seen information stating that bleach is an effective cleaner for mold remediation and then I have seen information stating that it is not effective.

"Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate it's use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

"Please note: Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed". (Excerpt from EPA's guide to Mold , Moisture and Your Home, a free guide you can get by calling 800-438-4318.)

Cleaning Steps:

(These steps are outlined on www.moldinspector.com)

Step # 1: Scrub mold off hard surfaces with cleaning agent and water, and dry completely.

Step # 2: Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.

Step #3: Look for damage to surfaces. Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or in the crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely. In those cases, you will have to get the mold spore killed to prevent future growth. The general rule is if the mold cannot be cleaned, it must be disposed of. According to the EPA Guide to Mold and Mildew,"If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for references and check them. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations".

Step #4 Contain all mold infested items that cannot be cleaned, place in bags.

Step #5 Dispose of all mold infested items

Step#6 Spray "two year mold inhibitor chemical" (www.nationalallergy.com) in areas that are susceptible to future mold growth

Step #7 Keep all areas of home clean and dry

Is really ever possible to get rid of all the mold and mold spores indoors? No. Some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. But that does not mean they are the toxic molds that can harm your family. The mold spores will not grow if moisture and humidity are not present. (You can see how important it is to purchase a humidity reader device for your home. If you live in the gulf states, it will be a never ending battle to control the humidity in your home, but it can be done.)

If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold AND fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

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