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12 Steps for Household Mold Removal

by Guest Post on Aug 16, 2011

Elevated levels of indoor household mold growth are very unhealthy for both homeowners and renters. Here are 12 steps for safe and effective, do-it-yourself household mold removal in houses, condominiums, and apartments.

1. Locate, fix and prevent all sources of mold growing water problems, 

such as severe winter-caused roof ice dams and broken, frozen water pipes, plus leaky roofs or siding, recurring flooding, plumbing leaks, air conditioning condensation, and high humidity (e.g., above 70%), especially for homes in communities near the ocean, a lake, or a large river.

2. Find all visible mold growth

by thorough, visual mold inspection. Use a strong flashlight and your sense of smell to help locate mold growth.

3. Inspect for hidden mold growth

inside, above, below, and next to water-damaged ceilings, walls, and floors, as well as inside heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and air ducts. Cut one inch by one inch or bigger core dry wall samples. Remove and look in the middle and back of each core for visible mold growth. Then, use a flashlight to look inside each hole for mold growth. You can also use a low-cost, three-foot to six-foot long fiber optics inspection cable to look in all directions inside each inspection hole.You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation)," advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

4. Use do-it-yourself mold test kits

to test room air and the outward air flow from each HVAC air duct register and all window air conditioners for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores. If there are serious mold problems anywhere in a home, airborne mold spores from those mold infestations will enter into the HVAC to mold cross contaminate both the HVAC and the entire house through the mold spore-carrying, outward air flow from the air duct registers. Mold lab analysis of the mold test kit samplings documents the types of mold species and the mold spore count severity of room and HVAC mold infestation.

5. When doing mold inspection, testing, and removal, wear proper personal protection

including at least: (a) N-95 breathing mask; (b) disposable vinyl gloves; (c) eye goggles with no air holes; (d) head covering; and (e) washable or paper disposable coveralls. These items are readily available at large paint, hardware, and home improvement stores.

6. Contain the mold work area

to keep airborne mold spores from cross-contaminating the rest of the house. Tape or staple wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, clear plastic sheeting as mold containment walls, with a lift up plastic sheeting flap door for easy entry and exit.

Dry the work area (especially if still wet from flooding or a now-fixed plumbing or roof leak) with one or more dehumidifiers and/or large fans located right in front of open windows to dry the area and to exhaust dangerous airborne mold spores to the outdoors.

7. Remove visible mold growth

by scrubbing it off with a hard bristle brush or wire brush dripping with boric acid powder (mix two cups per gallon of warm water). You can also use a wire brush attachment for an electric drill, hand sander, electric sander, hand-held planer, and power planer to remove mold growth from building materials.

8. If you cannot remove all of the mold growth

to a visibly mold-free condition, then remove, discard, and replace the moldy building materials

9. Don’t use chlorine bleach

because it is not an effective or long-lasting killer of toxic mold growth and mold spores on and inside porous, cellulose building materials such as wood timbers, drywall, plasterboard, particleboard, plywood, plywood substitutes, ceiling tiles, and carpeting/padding. In addition, bleach treatment does not prevent future mold growth.

10. If you have mold growth inside your HVAC system

If you have mold growth inside your HVAC system, first have your equipment and air ducts professionally cleaned, and then use a fogging machine to fog boric acid powder (two cups per gallon of warm water) for one hour into the fresh air entry duct of your HVAC to kill any remaining mold and to coat the insides of your equipment and ducts with mold-preventative boric acid crystals (left inside after natural drying). Do this procedure while the system is running on fan ventilation (no heating or cooling) to deliver substantial amounts of boric acid powder throughout the HVAC.

11. During the mold removal proces

, the residents should move temporarily to a mold-safe place until the successful completion of the mold remediation project and until clearance mold testing documents that it is safe to return. Residents moving out should not take any clothing, personal possessions, furnishings, furniture, or equipment until such items have been effectively mold decontaminated outdoors (or in a “clean room” built from plastic sheeting) to avoid mold cross contamination of the temporary or new residence.

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