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Here we list big and costly mistakes that people make when cleaning up moldy buildings. We start with unnecessary mold testing and unnecessary professional mold remediation for small mold contamination areas. This article in our "How to Clean Mold" article series describes common mistakes people make when attempting to clean up mold.
Avoiding these mold cleanup
errors can save you money and may also avoid dangerous side effects of bleach, mold chemicals, or ozone when improperly applied. Our page top photo shows mold growth behind wallpaper under a leaky window in a condominium in New Jersey. Just wiping off the wallpaper surface was not very helpful.
But the entire scope of this mold contamination was trivial - just about two square feet. Was mold testing needed? Mark Cramer assisted in development of this material.
4. MOLD CLEANING MISTAKES people make when cleaning-up moldy building materials and moldy surfaces
This discussion lists common mold remediation or mold cleanup errors specific to attempts to clean
mold from contaminated framing lumber or building sheathing such as plywood or pine boards used for subfloors
Inadequate cleaning and cross contamination are the two most common mistakes
we find when inspecting and testing sites to perform a post remediation clearance for mold cleanup.
Using bleaches, sprays,
or ozone instead of cleaning are close behind in frequency of mistakes.
Other mold remediation errors such as performing only demolition and failing to clean up the dust
and debris caused by that step, are important but are not discussed in this moldy wood cleaning document.
UNNECESSARY MOLD CLEANUP EXPENSE - using extreme, costly measures when inappropriate
Throwing money at mold: At MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?we list the questions to ask when deciding just how far to go in inspecting and testing for problem mold in a building.
Small areas of mold: In short, if a mold problem is trivial, less than 30 square feet of contiguous mold, and if none of the risk factors that would suggest a thorough investigation apply, then mold cleanup can be handled as a normal building cleanup and renovation project.
Our photo (left) shows a small area of mold on drywall in an otherwise problem-free no-complaint home. Notice that dark line at right angles to the wall at lower left?
Furniture or boxes were stored in this corner, reducing air circulation and increasing condensation on the cooler wall corner - possibly the cause of mold growth on this surface. If there were no known or suspected leaks into the wall we probably have a small do-it-yourself or handyman mold cleanup project. The cost of professional testing and remediation are not justified.
This article offers advice on cleaning mold found on surfaces of both finished & un-finished
wooden building materials such as framing lumber (rafters, floor joists, wall studs), and
building roof, wall, and floor sheathing such as plywood, tongue-and groove pine boards, and other structural wood surfaces
We discuss the pros and cons of using fungicidal sealants and bleach on wood surfaces and give sources and list types of those products.
We also discuss common errors made when cleaning wood surfaces, such as relying on bleach or performing expensive and
unnecessary cleaning on cosmetic black mold on wood surfaces.
SMALL MOLD CLEANUP WARNING: even during a minor mold cleanup job, keep alert for the discovery that there was actually a large but previously unknown mold problem.
So if you are removing two square feet of moldy drywall and you find that the wall cavity side of the drywall is moldy you'll need to keep removing drywall until you've found a 24" or one stud (or joist) bay of clean drywall surface. If the size of that cleanup project grows to exceed 30 square feet of contiguous mold, stop the job and bring in an expert to give advice. Otherwise you risk spreading moldy dust and contaminating other building areas.
Cosmetic Mold or Non-Mold Stuff that is harmless: Also be sure you're not spending unnecessarily to clean up stuff that's not even mold (mineral efflorescence) or to clean up harmless cosmetic mold (which you may be able to determine by simple visual inspection).
COSMETIC MOLD WARNING: When we sampled at a chain of lumber supply stores and at some building sites we found that on treated lumber that has been prepared green and wet we sometimes find a mix of both harmless cosmetic mold and possibly harmful Aspergillus sp. or Penicillium sp. - so if these products are to be used indoors they might need to be surface-cleaned.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in buildings - References & Products
Allergen Tests in buildings advice about how to test, what to look for, in evaluating the level of dog, cat, or other animal allergens in a building
"IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA
http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
Animal Allergens: Dog, Cat, and Other Animal Dander - Cleanup & Prevention Information for Asthmatics and regarding Indoor Air Quality.
Recognizing Allergens: What various indoor allergens look like - identification photos to help identify pollen, dust mites, animal dander, toxic or allergenic mold - Common Mold and other Allergens, Irritants, Remedies & Advice
Rodent control issues, including dander, fecal, and urine contamination of buildings and Building insulation are discussed at our
Associations: Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious rot and hidden structural damage
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold
cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.
Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.