Inadequate Mold Cleanup Plan
Mold Remediation Mistakes to Avoid
INADEQUATE REMEDIATION PLAN - CONTENTS: how an inadequate mold remediation plan means unnecessary mold cleanup costs and health risks for building occupants
INCOMPLETE CLEANUP, RELYING ON SPRAYS is a second inadequate approach to mold remediation. We need to physcially remove the mold, toss out un-clean able moldy stuff, and find and fix the cause of the mold problem.
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Mold cleanup mistakes: inadequate mold cleanup plan, too-narrow a scope of work. Here we explain how an inadequate mold cleanup plan can end up costing unnecessarily when hiring a mold cleaning company. This section of our "How to Clean Mold" article 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.
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.
Mold tests with no inspection: The most common complaint we hear from readers is that they have just paid a "mold expert" (read "weekend mold class") to "inspect and test" their building for toxic mold, but the expert, who may have been paid $600. to $2400. did not do a thorough job.
Tests for mold, used without an accompanying building inspection by an expert, are not reliable when they give a negative ("no mold found") result.
Do the job right: If a professional mold inspection and test was justified in the first place, (see MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?), then it the job should have been done with sufficient expertise and thoroughness that the building owners and occupants can have reasonable confidence in the conclusions reached.
Our photo at left shows a very moldy pantry in a home. Even if this is all the mold that was seen, mold growth this heavy suggests damp indoor conditions - it may be appropriate to inspect the building carefully and completely.
If you are betting the health of building occupants and perhaps also many thousands of dollars on the results of a "mold test" then shouldn't the test be thorough and valid?
In our opinion, we'd rather have no tests performed than accept the "findings" of unreliable tests and screens for mold.
Mold Cleanup Workmanship, Procedures, & Asbestos:
We add that during any building demolition or remodeling you should be alert for other building contaminants that might need attention and which can be most-economically addressed by combining them
into the mold remediation project.
A common example is the discovery of asbestos pipe or surface insulation in a building which
because of its location or condition needs to be encapsulated or removed.
Since the technology for mold remediation involves
similar containment and cleaning standards, if you have an asbestos problem at a different area on a moldy building you should discuss
adding that work to the job.
If asbestos materials are in the mold-remediation area and will be disturbed by the mold
cleanup process, removing and cleaning this material will probably be unavoidable and will, unfortunately, add to the cost of the job.
INCOMPLETE MOLD CLEANUP or incomplete removal of moldy materials, or RELYING ON of BIOCIDES, MOLD SPRAYS and MOLD ENCAPSULANT PAINTS
Leaving moldy insulation that looks "OK" but was wet or was exposed to mold, demolition dust, and debris. See INSULATION MOLD TEST.
Leaving moldy surfaces: from failing to examine the work area and other building areas; leaving moldy areas even outside of the remediation area can prevent a successful clearance inspection and test.
Leaving mold reservoirs that were missed at the initial inspection (client says "just inspect the basement") can also significantly add to the mold cleanup cost if the mold remediation crew has to return to the property to address a moldy area that should have been included in (but was omitted from) the original work plan. (Photo at left shows moldy flooring left under a built-in bureau).
Failure to remove moldy debris or mold-suspect insulation, leaving demolition debris, and just failure to actually sweep up and HEPA vacuum the cleanup area are surprisingly common among un-trained (and lower-initial-cost) mold cleanup company work.
Our photo (left) shows a crawl space that was "sprayed with mold encapsulant) in a $14,000. crawlspace mold cleanup job. Our client did not get what they needed.
Moldy fiberglass insulation was not removed
The crawl space floor was littered with debris
Occasional "where easy" joists had been sprayed - this work was expensive and ineffective.
See MOLD CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS for a description of tests and inspections to be sure that a mold cleanup job has been done properly. A paid professional mold clearance inspection is appropriate if the mold cleanup job itself involved a significant cost.
Spraying biocides or fungicidal sealants over moldy dust, dirt and debris that should have been removed (photo above right) is a common mold cleanup error. You may be leaving "dead" but toxic or allergenic particles at high levels in the building.
We like biocides as a final wash, and we like fungicidal sealants in problem areas because by reducing the moisture-uptake of wood surfaces they probably retard future mold growth. Our photo (above left) shows a worker applying biocide to carpeting - not a procedure that we recommend. Moldy wall to wall carpets should be removed.
But biocides, fungicidal sprays, and encapsulating mold paints are not an effective substitute for removing the problem mold reservoir in a building. See FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE for additional details.
See MOLD SPRAYS, SEALANTS, PAINTS for a discussion of when where how and why to use biocide or fungicidal sprays and encapsulating mold sprays and paints.
Here we show the results of a professional and well-executed moldy crawlspace cleanup job during our clearance inspection and test. This crawl space was difficult because building management was reluctant to take the necessary steps to keep out water. See HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE MOLD for a photo of a water entry source at this crawl space.
The remediator did their best to seal the area against future water intrusion.
All surfaces had been physically cleaned.
No demolition dust or debris remained in or out of the work area.
The remediator finished by coating all wood surfaces in the crawl area with a clear fungicidal sealant - helpful protection against future moisture intrusion and mold growth.
Even with these steps, unless the property manager takes the necessary steps to prevent future water in the crawl space this area could have a new problem, especially if it is re-insulated using fiberglass batts.
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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
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.