Whether from flooding, a spill, or simply high humidity mold can grow quickly, posing potentially serious health risks. It also causes damage to the building and the building’s contents. That’s why immediate professional water damage removal and specialized carpet cleaning are so important.
How Mold Grows and Spreads
Mold is a type of fungi, and does not need light to grow. It feeds off of just about anything organic, including cloth and building materials. All it needs to get going is moisture, and it can become a problem in as little as 24 hours after flooding.
Most of us have a mental picture of what mold looks like, but keep in mind that there are many varieties. They may appear fuzzy, lumpy, leathery, and even slimy. Black mold is the most infamous, posing perhaps the greatest health hazards, but other colors include gray, green, orange, purple, and yellow. When mold is dry and “inactive” it appears as a white powder. But with just a little moisture it will spring back to life
Mold spreads by releasing microscopic spores. These are like seeds, except they’re so small that they’re essentially invisible. These tiny spores float in the air and can travel great distances before they settle and wait for the opportunity to grow.
Since mold doesn’t need light, it may well be growing where you can’t see it — inside walls, under carpet padding, and in crawl spaces. Even a little condensation is plenty of moisture. So you may only notice a musty odor or experience flu-like symptoms.
Health Hazards and Building Damage
Various molds release various types of allergens. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to the resulting health problems, but given enough exposure anyone can suffer from the following problems that are often mistaken for “coming down with the flu.”
- Breathing difficulties such as wheezing
- Irritated eyes, skin, or throat
- Sinus and nasal congestion
- Upper respiratory infections
Most importantly, many varieties release toxins that can eventually lead to extremely serious health problems such as organ damage.
All types of mold live by literally eating eating building materials, furniture, and more. Problems may at first be superficial staining or other surface discoloration, but can soon be causing physical damage to carpet, drywall, wood trim, and even structural framing.
Mold Prevention and Control
Prevention is always the best policy, especially since safe and thorough mold removal requires specialized training and equipment.
In Daily Life
Problems most often occur in rooms where water is used or dampness is common: bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. Good ventilation, including properly working exhausts fans, are your first line of defense. You may need to actively manage humidity, using an inexpensive home meter to monitor the situation. Relative humidity should be kept below 60%, and is ideally 30 to 50%. In Staten Island neighborhoods that can be a problem. So you may have to use ventilation, a dehumidifier, or air conditioning to achieve that target. A home “HEPA” air filter will remove spores, reducing the chances of a problem. Above all, fix any water leaks immediately.
After any kind of flooding, immediate and through action is critical to avoid water damage and the need for mold remediation. The key steps are as follows.
- Remove water, starting with pump out as needed. Except for small spills or leaks that are taken care of within a few minutes, professional water extraction is called for. Water quickly penetrates and soaks in. Special equipment can remove on the order of twice as much water, cutting days off the time to get everything dried out. Remove wet items and other possessions, but keep them away from areas where their moisture or any spores could cause harm.
- Use high-volume fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the structure and contents. Again, professional equipment and skill cuts days off the all-critical drying time. Use high-volume HEPA air filters to prevent the spread of spores.
- Steam clean carpet and flooring, replace carpet padding.
- Sanitize all affected areas and possessions
- Apply anti-fungal treatments.
Using heat to promote drying requires special expertise, as mold grows even faster at temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit
If mold does get started, special removal skills are needed and it will probably be necessary to replace carpeting and even remove and replace affected drywall (which may extend a foot or more above the floor or water level). Remember, problems can be hidden inside walls, so inspection by an experienced technician is important.
That’s clearly a lot of work, and requires specialized skills and equipment. So remember that Joe Kielbasas Flood Service is ready for 24-hour water damage services throughout Staten Island.