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Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD - Old is the Mold?
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
Disinfecting Buildings with Bleach
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
WATER ENTRY in buildings
Do it yourself mold inspection & cleanup guide: this article about looking for and dealing with indoor mold gives advice for an owner or occupant of a building who wants to start by doing their own mold investigation.
The steps in this document outline the procedures to find and fix a mold problem and will be sufficient for many building owners who want to do their own mold investigation, mold testing, mold cleanup, and mold prevention in their home or office.
This is a chapter of our MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD that provides an easy to understand step-by-step guide for dealing with toxic or allergenic indoor mold and other indoor contaminants: what to do about mold. Extensive, technically detailed in-depth articles about finding and fixing indoor mold problems are organized at MOLD INFORMATION CENTER
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The steps in this document -ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD - will be sufficient for many building owners who want to do their own mold investigation, mold testing, mold cleanup, and mold prevention in their home or office. However do-it-yourselfers should pay close attention to what can go wrong. If you haven't already read HIRE A PROFESSIONAL? you should do so now (Seelinks listed at Related Topics ).
We encourage healthy, not-at-risk people to handle small mold problems themselves. You don't need to hire an expert to clean up moldy bath tiles or a square foot of moldy drywall. But if you are proceeding on your own, be alert for the discovery that the extent of the problem is large enough that you should stop and bring in a professional.
With these warnings made clear, continue by reviewing the next steps below - by scrolling down or by using the links at the left on any of our web pages.
If you're unsure whether to tackle mold yourself and want to know when to bring in a professional, see HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
Reduce your exposure to mold: Examine living/working conditions for opportunities to reduce exposure to mold or other allergens.
This means don't move your sick mother into a damp moldy basement while you're painting her bedroom. More generally it means you don't need to prove that a specific mold in a building is making you sick to recognize that a problem mold is present and needs to be cleaned-up.
But if you are sick, finding out what you've been exposed to might be helpful to your doctor. I've had clients with severe mold-related illness which went unrecognized and mistreated. If you're ill, ask your doctor if there is any reason to suspect an environmental factor or if there is reason to be extra careful to avoid exposure to mold or indoor allergens.
The basic steps in dealing with any mold problem include these 3 measures
Here are more details about how to proceed:
Step 1: find the problem mold reservoirs in the building
Find the Mold: Examine living/working conditions to find evidence of any mold or to determine the actual extent of mold problem in the building. Our website includes detailed articles on finding and recognizing mold both on visible surfaces and by invasive methods such as cutting small openings at areas where there is high risk of a hidden mold reservoir (such as where leaks into a wall or ceiling have occurred). See:
Step 2: remove the problem mold in the building
Clean-up the Mold: remove or clean up problem mold reservoirs. But don't be fooled into spending an outlandish sum on removing a "cosmetic" mold. Later below you'll read about stuff that is not mold or is only a cosmetic mold. We provide detailed articles on good procedures to clean up indoor mold. Don't forget that the key word in mold remediation is "remove" - we need to clean off moldy surfaces that can be cleaned and dispose of moldy materials (such as drywall and insulation) that cannot be cleaned. See:
Step 3: Fix the Cause(s) of INdoor Mold Growth
Find and Correct The Causes of the Mold: In addition to looking for reservoirs of existing mold, examine the building for evidence of leaks (current or old) or moisture problems as those often define the most-likely mold reservoirs. If there is mold in your attic, has there been a history of basement flooding?
Even if you don't see mold on exposed building surfaces, finding mold-producing conditions or events, like traces of leaks into a wall or ceiling, can tell you where a mold problem may be hidden.
Key technical articles at this website can help you find and correct the gating-factor that is most often associated with problem mold growth indoors: leaks or high moisture.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: how do we clean up mold in the bathroom?
I suspect we have mold in the bathroom of our apartment. I found your website in the course of trying to get information verifying my suspicion and to find how it might be possible to fix the problem myself (because we cannot afford to pay for commercial remediation services). I do hope that we qualify for Pro Bono assistance under your conditions for making it available.
I am 79 years old, my wife is 73. Both of us have COPD and are asthmatic, but she has emphysema and needs a humidifier and oxygen tank in the apartment (which she uses each night to be able to sleep); my breathing problems are much less severe, although I do have Apnea and have to sleep with a CPAP machine. Both of us have had cancer (in remission) and I have had a triple coronary bypass. I am living with other heart-related (valve and low EF) problems.
I'm not complaining, Daniel. Growing old is seldom easy unless one considers the alternative. But our situation is what it is, and I would like to make what is left of our lives as comfortable as possible.
I noticed recently that I have more difficulty breathing in the apartment than when I go outside (which is not really a good option because the high temperature and humidity does not represent a good tradeoff).
It is not clear to me what is the next step if we do qualify for your Pro Bono assistance. Please advise. - B.G. 7/14/12
I would be glad to assist you but because we're working out of the U.S. I cannot offer onsite investigation nor testing for quite some time.
Do-it-yourself mold investigation advice: visual inspection for mold
It is entirely reasonable for a homeowner to make a first pass effort at tracking down a mold problem, principally by a visual inspection for obvious and visible mold contamination in the home and for visual evidence of past or current leaks or moisture problems that invite mold growth. See MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE .
Follow the water trail
A second level of such investigation is to look for evidence of leaks or moisture traps and investigate those areas of the building further.
For small areas of indoor mold, in my view less than 30 sq.ft., a DIY approach is also reasonable for people in good health and not sensitive or at extra risk to mold. See MOLD CLEANUP, DO IT YOURSELF
When to hire an expert
You'll see that because of potential health risks and also ultimate cleanup costs that can occur if an amateur attacks a larger indoor mold problem, I advise against tackling a larger problem - that would be when a professional service is needed.
See MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE for help in deciding if you need to hire an expert. I'm not the only consultant who offers reduced fees or no fees whatsoever to people whose means are limited. So don't be afraid to ask others in your area for some help. It may be that local senior citizens aid associations in your community will also offer financial assistance should you need it. Check with your local office for the aging.
I also advise against superficial mold tests or screens using cultures or air tests alone, with no expert inspection. A negative mold contamination test result by itself can be quite unreliable (see MOLD TEST METHODS, ACCURACY) and even a positive mold test result is not very helpful as it may not point to the actual mold growing in the building but rather to the mold that liked the test media; even if such a test suggests that there is a mold problem it hasn't told you where to look nor what to do about it.
Question: how should I clean off moldy kitchen cabinets and shelving?
I have started to remodel my basement and in the interim my dehumidifier broke. It is a second home so it was several weeks before I replaced the dehumidifier. The contractor informed me y That there is mold growing on most of the unfinished surfaces. There are cabinets without the tops, doors, etc. how do I safely remove? Thank you, K.C. 8/15/2013
Reply: use a household cleaner, HEPA vacuum, and consider sealing wood surfaces to reduce moisture uptake & future mold growth
Any household cleaner should be fine. If you want to reduce the moisture uptake of wood and are ok with a coating, when the surfaces are clean and dry you can coat with an appropriate clear sealant or paint.
Watch out: as you'll note in our discussion above, large areas of mold generally merit cleanup by a professional.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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