Mold removal can be extensive and the do it yourself homeowner should be aware of the health risks and proper procedures for killing mold without spreading it or endangering family members that might be sensitive to it.
Mold spores are everywhere. When they find moisture they will begin to grow at a remarkably fast rate. Usually mold infestations take 3 or 4 days to establish themselves once they have come in contact with moisture. Your window of opportunity to dry up the damp area is pretty tight so don’t delay.
Mold causes a whole range of symptoms from asthma attacks to coughing, sneezing, itching, dizziness and nausea. Some people may start coughing and have it turn to pneumonia. For anyone with a compromised immune system such as a transplant patient, the mold can be very dangerous and on rare occasions cause a fungal growth in the chest. Residents allergic to mold will suffer the most, but exposure can trigger a reaction in anyone. Prolonged or intense exposure can sensitize the body so future contact can produce an allergic reaction.
Do it yourself mold removal guidelines
Use a sponge soaked in straight white vinegar to pat the moldy area. Keep in mind that scrubbing mold can spread it. Protective clothing should always be worn, including a mask and gloves. For do-it-yourself mold removal see Mold Removal.
Mold and mildew establish themselves in damp porous materials like carpet and paperboard, so those items may need to be discarded. Mold can also grow behind wallpaper, inside furniture, and in other hidden places where moisture can seep.
During and after Hurricane Irene, floodwaters poured through homes with such a vengeance that entire basements were covered first with muddy water and then with mold. “It happens so fast — we were in there only two days after the flood and black mold was already covering everything,” said volunteer Paige Wehran. “It was behind drywall, covering the studs, in wood on door frames, everywhere. I’ve been in about 30 homes and saw it in every one.” The fungi are easy to spot — sporting brown, green, yellow or black spots. When fueled by moisture those blotches quickly sprout fuzz, grow hair-like tendrils, or blossom into a cottage-cheese texture.
Experts warn that with or without a mold allergy, residents need to limit exposure because some types emit microscopic spores that contain volatile organic compounds, which can cause respiratory problems. Even for those not allergic to mold, these VOCs are a concern. VOCs can seriously irritate the respiratory tract.