Depending upon the level, location, use and extent of remediation required, the remediation needs to be done with appropriate levels of protection. Persons handling materials, contents and debris from a mold remediation are exposed to elevated mold levels. Mold can spread just as when you blew on the dandelion that turned white and saw the tiny seeds go everywhere. PPE or “Personal Protective Equipment” needs worn by those exposed to airborne mold during work.
At a minimum, workers need protected with masks. In higher mold conditions or closed areas, gloves and suits may also be crucial and necessary protective equipment.
If an area of remediation has disturbed materials, the area being cleaned needs contained from spreading disturbed mold through other areas of the building envelope. Contaminated materials need to be wrapped and carried out of the building while enclosed or wrapped to prevent mold contaminated materials from harming others.
In areas of significant disturbed mold contaminated materials, the area of work may need protected with an airlock. This is usually simple, overlapping plastic doors that appear like the scene you may remember from the movie "ET the Extraterrestrial. This is called containment.
In situations where there is concern and risk that disturbed mold may be drawn from the disturbed area into the other areas of the building, the work area needs placed under negative air pressure. That means the air is drawn from that area and sent to the exterior.
Forced air heating systems are another place that needs professionally considered to avoid moving mold through the rest of the building. Ductwork may need sealed within work areas to avoid the furnace or AC blower pushing mold through the building while the unit is operating.
Another aspect of the professional mold remediation job is air scrubbing. Mold spores go into the air. That process is accelerated when mold is disturbed during work. As that mold is floating in the work area can be collected onto a filter in the piece of equipment called an air scrubber. This is a highly efficient air filter designed to capture the small particles such as mold.
Post Remediation Verification Testing at the End of Remediation At the end of the work, you should have proof that the work was effective in removing the mold. This is done by conducting a "clearance test" also known as a PRV, short for "Post-Remediation Verification" Accepted procedure is that clearance testing should not be conducted by the remediator.to avoid the “fox counting the chickens in the chicken coup.”
Selecting the right professional for your project can be a scary challenge. It is a very important task with the health of occupants of the mold contaminated building depending upon the work of possibly unknown strangers.
For links and additional information about finding help for mold remediation, go to: www.Envirospect.com/FailedRemmediation
The sad truth is that many mold remediation jobs fail and leave the customer with an empty wallet and a home that is still unhealthy. Mold has often grown back within weeks or months of a treatment. The mold remediators that do not do a good job count on several factors.
It is shocking to find that after thousands of dollars of treatment many homes still have mold visible in areas such as behind baseboards, behind walls, in ductwork and on contents that were not treated. Those remediators are counting on the customer not recognizing the remaining mold.
What the Bad Mold Remediators Want you to Believe
We all pretty much trust the claims on the label of Lysol Disinfectant Spray. In bold letters is says that it has a 99.9% kill rate for germs, bacteria and mold. Heck, they wouldn’t make a false claim, would they?
Picture that we go into a dirty, dusty room and spray everything with a mist of Lysol. Fast forward two weeks. The dust, dirt and other debris is still there. Maybe we even add a little food debris on the kitchen counter and table.
Do you for one minute believe that any home will be germ free three weeks after being sprayed? Simply spraying or fogging with a mold product is not enough to make a home or any other building an acceptable level of mold for more than a few days or weeks.
It’s the Preparation That Makes the Difference
The most economical and healthy approach to mold remediation in a building is to complete remediation of all mold contaminated areas and sources of contamination in the initial project. An independent expert in the building science of mold should do an assessment for two reasons. One reason is the added expertise in finding mold and creating the plan to keep it from coming back. The other is that it will provide a customer the information to know which mold remediators proposal is right for the property. You want enough work done to make sure the property stays mold free and mot more work or expense than is necessary.
Selecting a Remediator and Treatment System
Identifying and removing materials and contents that can’t be cleaned is the first step. Deep cleaning of organic debris and dust is critical to success. HEPA cleaning, wiping and disinfection of surfaces is required for most remediations to be successful and lasting. Do not settle for spraying or fogging without preparation.
There are numerous mold treatment systems available that encompass a wide range of chemicals of varying toxicity. Some chemicals that have superb effectiveness are very dangerous to health and safety. The goal is selecting a treatment system that can fully kill mold and yet be safe for residents and mold technicians. The additional important criteria are that the residual chemical should have a degree of continued effectiveness and yet be safe for occupant and pet exposure.
Make sure that product label instructions are followed. The use of an enzyme-based treatment system is often a great choice. In any instance, the chosen treatment system should be applied according to directions by technicians utilizing proper procedures and personal protective equipment. All systems of mold treatment include application of chemical products that should be done by trained professionals to assure both safety and effectiveness.
Indoor air humidity and to be less than 40% to 50 %, and all cavities and surfaces free of wetness. All water leaks and events need corrected. The conditions that allow mold growth must be avoided.
So let’s travel back in time to the 1950’s. The kids are bringing home friends and, well, mom needed to find a place for the kids to go. Someone figured out that the basement is already there, ready for action. Add a little paneling and a couple of weekends work and maybe a pool table, and the kids would have a place to gather. With the possible addition of a six pack, the plan also worked for the adults and their friends. Welcome the basement game room to modern living.
Click Here to Download "A Homeowners Guide to Finishing a Basement"
Sixty years later and the basement is still the cheapest place to add living space to a home. Today’s basements are “not your daddy’s game room” They are now often elaborate and expensive endeavors featuring wonderful products and materials that were science fiction in the 1950’s.
Today there are homes still under construction that are already growing fuzzy mold. Expensive does not mean “free from mold.” This year I have found two under construction homes over $750,000 in sales price that already had mold at an unhealthy level. Start with the normal moisture in building products and add that to “Energy Star” tight construction and you have the perfect petri dish.
As in most things, preparation is the most important place to start a project.
Look for water coming through the wall. White power, yellow stains or black areas on basement walls are the result of water penetration. Fix the cause. Water behind walls will result in mold, termites, carpenter ants and rot to materials. It is also easier to locate and correct the water problem before walls and ceilings are installed.
Test for moisture coming up from the floor. The simple trick is to securely duct tape the perimeter of an 18”X18” piece of clear plastic to the floor. Come back in 3 days. Look at the plastic. If water droplets have collected under the plastic, the water problem under the floor needs corrected before moving forward
Test for radon and natural gas leaks before finishing the basement. In addition to making the basement a healthier environment, it will be easier and often less expensive to fix before the basement is finished.
Move water and gas valves so that they can be used. They are installed for a purpose. You do not want to learn that purpose when water is running through a wall or ceiling.
Plan for all of the features you want in the room. Your plan should include any future changes that may happen in upper levels. Installing plumbing, wiring and heating for a future bath or other renovation will be easier when you have basement access.
Check local codes. As one example, many codes and municipalities require the installation of a second method to exit the home from a finished basement. There are manufactured large window and window well assemblies that allow people another path to leave the basement. Many appraisers can’t add the value of a basement space as living space without that additional exit. Adding that feature can add thousands of dollars to the sales price.
Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in Finishing Basements
Allow enough room around the hot water tank and furnace for both servicing and replacement. You will not like your plumber removing a section of wall to change your hot water tank.
Plan your rooms so that electrical panels are not located in clothes closets, bathrooms or stairwells. That is an electrical code requirement.
Allow for floor drains to be located where the traps can be filled with water. Sewer odor is a common problem if a trap dries out under a carpet.
Provide for comfortable heating, cooling and fresh air. Call a professional for that part of the project. Most home improvement contractors and DIYers don’t have the experience or knowledge to make basements comfortable year around.
Add enough lighting. Consider adding enough light fixtures to create a bright environment. Even if you call it a “man cave”, dark rooms are not pleasant and inviting.
Solve moisture problems without adding interior French drains if possible. If an interior french drain is installed, seal the system. Do not install sheet vinyl, not matter how cheap and easy it is to do. These floors trap moisture underneath the surface. The floor then turns gray with stains from moisture.
Modern Tricks and Products for Better Basement Living
Material selection for the basement can make the difference between having an enjoyable family living area in the basement or a dreaded dark and smelly place.
Frame walls with steel studs instead of wood studs. It is not really so scary to use steel studs. They are easy to cut and screw together. They are better in basements because they are not a source of food for termites or mold.
Do not install the new walls directly against the foundation. Allow an air space of an inch between your new walls and the foundation. That air space allows trapped condensate to vent out from behind walls.
Use a wall finish such as fiberglass drywall. Traditional drywall, including MR (Moisture Resistant) board supports the growth of mold. Some of the fiberglass faced drywall products are DensArmor and Greenglass Board.
Raise the wall finish and any wood trim about 3/8” up from the floor. This avoids the wicking of moisture up a wall if a leak occurs.
Select a floor material that is resistance to water breakdown or mold. Some examples would include carpet that is Olefin yarn based as opposed to other yarn systems. Avoid carpet pad. When you think about it, carpet pad is really a sponge that will hold dirt, odors and mold
Read the instructions on all flooring before purchasing. Yes, I know that reading directions is a tough task. An example of why this is important is the popular composite or laminate flooring. Some of these materials specify “not for use in a below grade application.” Others require specialized underlayment or procedures for this use. Ceramic or solid vinyl flooring products such as Traffic Master are examples of good products for basements.
When installing flooring, use adhesive suited for damp areas. Saving money on adhesives can be an expensive mistake
Cover plumbing pipes with foam insulation. Also insulate ductwork if you have air conditioning. Think of the glass of ice water on the table on the 4th of July. Covering pipes is like putting them in a Styrofoam cup instead of a sweating glass. You do not want dripping of pipes and ductwork.
In the end, if a basement is not a comfortable place to go, it has little value. That is unless you want to grow mushrooms in your very own basement cave.
It just like just about everything we can talk about. There is good and bad. And there is bad and worse.
We usually talk about mold in our homes as “bad,” when it is very high……….and often it is.
Actually, some people differentiate between the molds that can be bad for us and the “really bad molds.” Now keeping in mind that Aspergillus can be a trigger for among many things Asthma. In my world that would be a bad thing, particularly if I had an Asthmatic child.
The distinction some people would make is: “well….is this the really bad mold you call black mold?”
For some people, not being Stachybotrys (a/k/a toxic black mold) makes it not a problem, even if they have someone that could become acutely ill from the mold that is present in the amount found in testing.
The question of it is bad mold needs answered after the amount of mold is determined by a test and that information considered in the context of the health of the people exposed to the mold.
We all pretty much know that there are molds that trigger respiratory disease. We breath the mold in and it attacks our lungs.
What we need to know is that we have molds that attack the eyes. We have others that can cause skin infections. Other molds can attack the nervous system. Still others will trigger auto-immune disease.
Molds are used in many powerful drugs, which also means that a variety of mold can affect people in a wide variety of ways.
Then we have a number of molds that can create psychotic reactions. Ergot mold grows on a variety of grains and produces lysergic acid which is a hallucinogen and has in its history events of triggering the Salem Witch Trails and the “Great Fear” during the French Revolution.
The bottom line answer to: “Do we have a bad mold problem?” does not end with the question is there black mold or not? The full answer is “That depends…upon the type and amount of mold and the individual characteristics of the people that are exposed to the mold.”