In Florida during hurricane season mold and mildew can begin developing in as little as 24 to 48 hours after water damage. The water damage doesn’t necessarily have to be from storm surge or wind-driven rain from a hurricane.
The benefit of storm-related water damage is it’s obviousness. Other types of water damage can be more pernicious, like a leaking pipe in an infrequently used bathroom vanity or water intrusion from failed weatherstripping or caulking.
Drying and mold remediation needs to begin as soon as possible to prevent mold and mildew from spreading. Once it takes root nothing short of remediation will truly eliminate mold. That’s why spotting it early and fast is so important.
You might be surprised by the amount of moisture required to give mold a good breeding ground. Steam cooking, humidifiers and even dryer vents can contribute enough moisture to lead to mold and mildew development.
While the more obvious sources like plumbing leaks and roof leaks or bathtub, sink and toilet overflows generally kick homeowners and property owners into fast action, those slower humidity sources frequently go unnoticed.
That depends on who you ask. One FEMA guide suggests calling a mold remediation professional if there’s over 25 square feet of visible mold. Mold remediation specialists are likely to tell you that you should never attempt to clean mold yourself.
It’s good to understand the potential health risks of mold. Cleaning mold can potentially expose you to these dangers, but living or working in a building with mold poses many of the same risks.
Prolonged or severe mold exposure can even lead to nervous system problems with symptoms like headaches, mood changes and memory loss. People can also develop almost fibromyalgia-like aches and pains.
People with allergies or existing respiratory problems – like asthma – are especially sensitive to the negative health effects of mold. If someone with those health issues lives in your household it is of vital importance that you remain vigilant for mold and mildew growth.
Even if you don’t have sensitivities to mold you should still always wear eye protection, a mask and gloves when cleaning mold. Spores can be easily breathed in or land in unprotected eyes. The chemicals you may be using also pose a risk for skin irritation or respiratory and sinus damage when breathed in.
If you feel any kind of adverse reactions when you’re cleaning mold, you should immediately stop and call a mold remediation specialist to continue the job.
The last thing you want to do is spread mold around a building. Avoid using fans as they can push the mold spores into places without mold growth. This is doubly true for ventilation systems. If there is water damage, mildew or mold in ductwork or HVAC systems, using those systems will simply disperse spores around your entire home.
Anything that’s suffered water damage should be taken outside. If any cloth or especially porous materials have suffered water damage they should likely be entirely discarded. This includes thigs like carpeting, water damaged sofas, etc.
It’s important to first clean hard surfaces before you disinfect them. Solid wood, plastic, metal or glass surfaces can be cleaned with a stiff brush. Some people utilize commercial wet-dry shop vacuums to clean things like exposed wood studs and framing.
Once surfaces have been cleaned, they should be disinfected with a 10 percent bleach solution. Let the application sit for a minimum of 10 minutes before rinsing with clean water and letting it completely dry.