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10 Steps to Safe Mold Remediation for Your Home

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In our previous blog, we explained how mold exposure happens and how to test your home for mold and mycotoxins. In this article, we cover the 10 steps for safe and complete mold remediation. These include identifying, containing, and removing any current microbial growth, as well as preventing future mold and mycotoxins.

When Is Mold Remediation Required?

If you suspect mold in your home, the first step is thorough testing by a licensed, certified professional. If this testing reveals the presence of mold, it is vital that you complete safe, complete mold remediation as soon as possible.

Mold remediation is the process of identifying, containing, and removing any current mold or mycotoxins, as well as taking steps to prevent future mold growth. There is no such thing as “tolerable” mold exposure – the time to pursue mold remediation is the moment you learn that testing is positive. It’s also crucial that you engage a licensed, insured Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) with the equipment and knowledge to perform remediation safely.

We recommend looking for a professional certified by the American Council for Accredited Certification who holds either a CMRS or a CMR certification. A CMRS certification signifies that the Individual Environmental Professional (IEP) is recognized as a Council-Certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor with a minimum of 8 years of practical expertise, and a CMR certification indicates their status as a Council-Certified Microbial Remediator with no less than 2 years of hands-on experience.

Is Mold Remediation Dangerous?

Mold remediation is only dangerous when performed incompletely or without the correct knowledge and equipment to prevent further contamination of your home and belongings. While any remediation occurs, especially fogging, the family should not be in the house and should stay away for several hours after the work is completed.

Cutting corners during mold remediation can actually worsen the problem and increase the spread of harmful spores. We have had patients become much sicker by using inexperienced general contractors or working with family members in order to save money.

The long-term health risks of continued mold/mycotoxin exposure for the whole family are never worth the money saved in the short term. Failure to properly and completely address mold in your home or your body can result in continued flares of illness for years to come. Proper mold remediation is an investment, but it’s well worth the alternative!

family playing together

How Long Does Mold Remediation Take?

Mold remediation can span from a few days to several weeks, depending on the extent of mold growth and the areas or surfaces involved. The list of steps outlined below assumes widespread mold contamination caused by a water leak. Your home’s mold remediation may require fewer steps – again, a certified IEP will be able to direct and inform you about the mold remediation process that is right for your home.

Important Note: Bleach should never be poured on suspected areas of mold, since it will result in the sudden release of mycotoxins.

A Mold Remediation Timeline

We have divided remediation efforts into two categories. The first is designed to address any sources of water or humidity. The second is to remove mold on surfaces and belongings. Some of these efforts may happen concurrently, depending on your home and remediation needs.

Mold Remediation Process: Addressing Leaks & Humidity

Remember that leaks and sources of humidity must be identified and addressed so that other mold remediation efforts inside your home are not wasted. Water intrusion is the most common cause of mold and mycotoxin growth, and eliminating the sources is vital.

  1. Drain Water Outside the Home

    It is important that water drains away from your home. All downspouts should remove water at least 6 feet from the outer walls of the home. Remember to clean downspouts regularly, removing leaves and debris to prevent blockages and downspout failure.

    The slope of the ground around your home should also be graded or sloped away from living structures. If low spots are noted near the foundation, foundation drains may need to be installed with sump pumps in the basement or crawlspace to carry water away from these areas. The best sump pumps have a battery backup in case of power failure, and many now come with notification systems such as audible alarms in case of pump failure or high water levels. Some pumps also contain transmitters that provide text or email alerts in the case of power failure. (This is important because power outages are the most common cause of sump pump failure and basement flooding.)

  2. Prevent Water Intrusion

    As long as water continues to enter the home, microbial growth and mycotoxin production will continue. Your IEP should thoroughly examine walls, windows, fireplaces, and the roof/chimney for signs of leaks. If roof repair is required, opt for high-quality composite shingles rather than wood shingles. It is also very important to deal with dead valleys where water gathers rather than draining away. If necessary in your climate, now is also the time to apply ice- and water-shield.

  3. Address High Humidity

    Mold and mycotoxin growth can occur when your home has high humidity levels, regardless of any external leak. Dehumidifiers should be installed to keep the humidity below 50% inside year-round.

    Whole-home dehumidifiers tend to be expensive, but portable dehumidifiers are widely available and quite affordable. Some models have a pump feature and hose coupling to allow drainage to a sump pit or outside the home. Models with a bucket are not as convenient since they typically need to be emptied every 3-4 hours in a humid home.

    Important Note: Whole-home humidifiers and even small vaporizers can lead to issues with microbial growth and should not be used.

  4. Drain Bathroom Fans

    All bathroom fans should drain to the outside of the home. Unfortunately, these fans are often vented to the attic, and humidity from the fans can lead to microbial growth over time.

  5. Clean or Repair Portable Air Conditioner

    Drain lines and filters in portable window-mounted air conditioners can harbor microbial growth. During mold remediation, ensure these units are cleaned or repaired as needed.

changing air vent

Mold Remediation Process: Cleaning Contaminated Surfaces & Items

Like all living creatures, mold requires two things to grow: food and water. Moisture from humidity or a leak plus common building materials such as drywall, wood, or paper equal ideal nourishment for toxic mold. The following steps of mold remediation eliminate those food sources.

  1. Contaminated Building Materials

    If there is an acute water intrusion event, like a bathtub leak or a sump failure, immediate removal of wet building materials and aggressive drying with industrial fans within 24 hours may prevent microbial growth. If drywall is wet, it should be removed and replaced, but wood or composite can remain if completely dried by the fans.

    Your IEP can take serial measurements of building materials with a two-pronged professional hygrometer to define the extent of wet drywall or provide a benchmark for when it is safe to stop drying and rebuild the living space.

    Any building materials that have suspected or confirmed microbial growth will need to be removed under encapsulated conditions. This means your IEP will tape and cordon off each area so that contaminated materials can be wrapped and removed without spreading mold/mycotoxin contamination to the rest of your home. As mentioned previously, please do not pour bleach on suspected areas of mold, as it causes the sudden release of dangerous mycotoxins.

  2. Duct Cleaning

    Any home with detectable mold, mycotoxins, actinomyces, or water intrusion should have a professional duct cleaning. Fogging the system with safe anti-mold/mycotoxin cleaning products after duct cleaning is also recommended.

    After duct cleaning, replace air filters with the highest MERV rating that your HVAC system can handle. (Your HVAC specialist can tell you more if you’re unsure about your system’s specifications.) The MERV rating indicates how well your air filter can capture different sizes of particles, ranging from large to small; the higher the rating, the more effective the filter. Aim for a filter with a MERV rating of 13-16 if possible.

  3. Fogging

    Some companies use commercial foggers to rid the air of mold and mycotoxins. Following this fogging, surfaces are wiped down and often vacuumed. Duct cleaning and fogging are always important – even if mold was only found on one level of a home, the air register intakes can return contaminated air to the furnace, where it can still spread through the rest of the home.

  4. Air Filtration and Scrubbing

    Your IEP should also have access to commercial-grade air scrubbers for use during drying or remediation. After remediation is complete, we recommend using a high-quality portable air filtration device in your home. We recommend IQAir, Air Doctor, and Austin Air to our patients.

  5. Belongings

    This is one of the most common questions we get and also one of the most difficult to answer. Non-porous surfaces such as plastic, metal items, and most finished furniture can be wiped with non-toxic cleaners made specifically for mold remediation or may be wiped down after fogging by your IEP.

    As for the rest, discarding everything is never the answer. However, dealing with personal belongings exposed to mold or mycotoxins is a complex triage situation with several variables. Your qualified IEP can offer the most accurate recommendations about what can be cleaned, what may need to be discarded, and what may be stored in a sealed plastic bin to deal with at a later date.

taking out trash

Testing After Mold Remediation

How your family feels in your home is often the best way to determine mold remediation success. However, we highly recommend post-remediation testing for mycotoxins, actinomyces, and mold spores, as well as periodic physical inspections in the future.

While mold remediation will care for your home, your health may need care as well after mold exposure. It’s important to have an integrative physician who is well-versed in treating mold illness and identifying common complications, such as PANS/PANDAS.

If you or someone you care about is dealing with mold-related health issues and can make the journey to The Center for Fully Functional Health located in Carmel, Indiana, we invite you to reach out to our office. You can get in touch by completing the form located at the bottom of this page or by calling us at (317) 989-8463. Our office hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern, Monday through Thursday. Our team of experienced physicians has amassed decades of expertise in effectively treating mold-related illnesses and associated conditions, and we would be privileged to assist you on your path to recovery.

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40 North Rangeline Rd. Carmel, IN 46032

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