A few simple steps can save property owners thousands of dollars of damage due to structural mold growth, according to Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI). Taking the necessary steps to avoid structural mold growth will not only preserve the integrity of a building but also the health of its occupants, further explains Kurt and Lee Ann Billings, authors of the book MOLD: The War Within, which details lessons learned from Katrina. Disaster area residents must be proactive, act quickly, and use proper personal protection equipment when implementing the following ten steps:
1) Remove standing water—remove wet carpets, rugs, draperies, personal belongings (if possible) and exterior mulch against the foundation walls, etc., to allow the subflooring and foundation to dry
2) Dry the structure out as quickly as possible—this is the most important thing you can do as structural mold will begin to form in the first 24-48 hours. Remove water-saturated sheetrock 18 inches above the highest watermark to increase structural drying
3) Turn up the heat and use a dehumidifier—when drying out a structure and/or its contents, reduce the indoor humidity to less than 60% and use heat to speed the drying process. Hot, dry air dries things faster than cold moist air
4) Circulate the air—turn on fans and dehumidifiers or open windows if there is no electricity to get air moving around to increase drying
5) Don’t seal it up until its dry—siding, sheetrock, and flooring repairs should be done only after the substrates are completely dry. Only use plastic to prevent further water damage.
6) Don’t use bleach—it is an effective sanitizer but will not remove mold at its root. The mold will look like its gone but it won’t be
7) Check your attic—undetected roof leaks can become big structural mold problems later
8) Inspect windows on the outside of the structure—check for possible water seepage through the caulking/seals
9) Use the sun to your advantage—if you can, move it outside. Let nature do its job
10) Spray the structure with an enzyme cleaner—as soon as the structure is dry to kill any organism such as mold and bacteria. Use sanitizers on any portion of the structure contaminated by sewage or flood waters.
For more information on water damage and flood resources, please see www.Flood.NORMI.org or to locate a certified mold inspector or remediator in your area, log onto www.normipro.com or call 1.877.251.2296.