When the black mold in your home is more than you can safely and effectively remove on your own, you’ll need to hire a mold abatement professional. Here we will lay out the basic steps in mold remediation and overview the most common technologies/equipment that mold abatement contractors use.
The Mold Abatement Process
Mold abatement is a process, and to be successful, the mold remediator must take certain steps in a certain sequence.
The first step is evaluating the site and developing a plan to correct the problem, as follows:
1. Identify and resolve the source of the water or humidity problems-before mold abatement is performed.
2. Evaluate the scope of work and schedule for how the work will be done. Consider:
- What will be done with the home’s contents
- Whether or not the residents will be able to stay in their home while the mold abatement is under way
- Whether there will be post-remediation mold testing and who will do it
- How much, if any, of the home must undergo demolition
- Who will perform the repairs, and how long that work will take
Obtain a detailed written estimate explaining what the scope of work will be in each room or area.
Look for companies with current certification from IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association), NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors), NAMP(National Association of Mold Professionals) or the RIA (Restoration Industry Association) . In Canada contact the CMHC to refer you to qualified and accredited mol removal technicians. They will likely recommend companies with certification from IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification).
Mold Abatement Tasks
The actual mold remediation process will involve the following tasks, performed in this approximate order:
- Shut down the heating and/or air conditioning system immediately, and keep it shut off throughout the mold abatement process. Tape off and seal all HVAC registers and returns. If the contaminated area is limited to one or two rooms where there are no air duct returns to suck up mold spores, it may not be necessary to shut down the system. The nearest vents should be checked to make sure they’re clean before closing them and taping them off. Remember, when you run the HVAC system, you always run the risk of cross-contamination.
- Fix all water and moisture issues within the structure.
- Set up dehumidifiers and run them until the job is over.
- Clean and then store in a clean, dry space all furniture and furnishings from the affected area.
- Set up proper mold containment area(s). Containment basically means keeping a contaminated separate preventing the spread of mold-by traffic or air circulation-to other areas of the home. At the start of the project, your mold abatement professional will set up a decontamination chamber where workers will store and clean their contaminated suits and equipment.
- Use negative air machines in the contained areas to achieve negative pressurization.
- Set up HEPA-filtered air scrubbers.
- Selectively demolish and remove debris in designated areas.
- Remove the mold by the method appropriate to the situation.
- Clean the heating and air conditioning units and all ductwork with HEPA-rated equipment. Replace filters and insulation and, if necessary, some types of ductwork. If the plenum is made of duct board, it will have to be removed and replaced.
- Vacuum all surfaces with HEPA-filtered vacuuming systems.
- Wipe down every square inch of surface by hand with an EPA-approved biocide, preferably with an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral cleaning solution.
- Allow the air scrubbers to run (typically for 24-48 hours) after the mold abatement process is completed.
- Perform post mold abatement testing to ensure the spore counts are at an acceptable level.
It’s helpful to know, up front, what the mold abatement process involves. Most people are upset when they find that they have to leave their homes for a few weeks while the work is done. It’s important to ask questions and get a good understanding at the start:
How long will the mold abatement take?
Mold abatement is labor-intensive. A small remediation company may not have enough manpower to do your job as quickly as you’d like. To give you an idea of how long remediation work takes, a 2,000-square-foot house might, on average, take between 10-15 days if remediation includes removal of all drywall, flooring, and appliances — basically taking the house down to the studs .
What testing will be done after the abatement is complete?
Post-testing should immediately follow the remediation process. Laboratory results can be overnight-mailed, and next-day results can typically be obtained via e-mail.
How much does mold abatement cost?
Mold abatement costs include equipment, materials, cost of work crews etc. It can get expensive so we advise getting several detailed quotes since pricing can vary widely between contractors.
Note: you may also want to read our articles on mold removal.