Must Dry Out Moldy Areas Before Completing Mold Cleanup
Mold remediation mistakes to avoid
MOLD CLEANUP, DRY THE MOLD-CLEANED SURFACE - CONTENTS: How and Why to Dry Moldy Areas Before Mold Cleanup or Mold Remediation Begins. The importance of correcting sources of water or moisture before cleaning up mold
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This section of our article series on How to Clean Up or Get Rid of Mold discusses the importance of drying the surfaces to be cleaned.If an expensive mold remediation effort is begun before the moldy area has been dried and leaks stopped, it is likely that
the cleanup cost will have been wasted as mold growth will simply recur.
Our photo above shows a recently-flooded home in Jasper TX. You can see that the floor is still wet. Demolition of moldy materials can begin but mold cleanup can't be successfully completed before the building has first been dried.
Step 2 in Mold Cleanup Procedures: Dry the cleaned, previously moldy surface
No mold remediation project can be successfully completed unless:
The causes of mold growth in the building have been eliminated - such as building leaks or moisture traps
Wet and damp building surfaces and materials have been properly dried.
When can mold cleanup begin in a building?
Certain steps can begin immediately and in some cases are essential:
The building must be safe to enter, structurally as well as regarding environmental hazards. If significant mold levels are present, appropriate protective clothing and equipment should be used.
Establish containment to prevent unaffected building areas from cross-contamination. This step can be taken before any other work has begun on the building and should be done even if cleanup work is not to begin for some time. The sooner mold containment is established the greater the chance that the mold cleanup will not have to include cleaning of other, apparently unaffected, building areas.
Stop any active building leaks and remove standing water
Begin demolition: Demolition and removal of ruined, soaked, and obviously to-be-discarded building contents and building materials, such as wet carpeting, moldy drywall, soaked furniture, can begin as soon as practical.
Dry out the building: the moisture level in interior wood surfaces needs to be well below 18% before cleaning and any final fungicidal sealing (if used) can be completed.
Finish final cleaning: remove all loose demolition debris and complete the physical cleaning of all remaining surfaces.
Check for ongoing leaks: don't close down a mold cleanup job if there are ongoing leaks - the cost and effort may be wasted as mold growth can recur quickly - in as little as 24-48 hours.
What we are emphasizing, however, is that while initial demolition and even some cleaning can begin before the building has been successfully dried and protected from further leaks, no mold remediation project can be completed under those conditions. If the building remains wet, mold growth will recur on remaining building materials and surfaces.
How Dry do Things Have to be in a Building to Complete Mold Cleanup?
Let the cleaned lumber or plywood surface dry thoroughly. 18% moisture level or less in wood is usually acceptable; normally inside of a building that has been closed to weather and heated or air conditioned, moisture levels will be way below this point, perhaps at 2 to 6% in wood and in any remaining drywall.
When lumber surfaces have been washed or otherwise are wet, they should be dry (less than 18% moisture content) before further treatment.
For wood framing and sheathing surfaces which have been cleaned of problem mold, a simple contact probe system or Tramex moisture encounter system is adequate since wood surfaces
are directly accessible
In more broad investigations we measure moisture in wood and drywall using either a pin-probe type moisture meter such as the Delmhorst™ model BD-7, the Tramex Compact™
or for impenetrable surfaces such as tiled walls and floors we use the Tramex moisture encounter which uses a pair of pads and an electrical
signal to perform non-destructive moisture detection.
The Delmhorst moisture meter also offers sets of long pin probes which can penetrate a wood frame wall or ceiling to sense moisture within insulation or on the far side of that cavity.
We also use the Exergen infra-red
scanner to find moisture based on variations in temperature. A study comparing the effectiveness of various moisture measuring tools
in the detection of moisture in inaccessible building cavities and a comparison of use of these instruments, a bore scope, and
direct visual inspection by test cuts has been completed.
Remember when measuring moisture that looking only in the center of a surface, such as 4 ft. up a drywall-covered partition, is not the full story.
Moisture may still be present at problem levels in slow-to dry
areas including building wall and ceiling cavities and on drywall behind wood trim. Measure at the locations most-likely to still be wet, not the locations most-likely to be dry, if you're trying to avoid an indoor mold problem.
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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.
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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.
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