Late summer has been an active time for flooding this year. Whether it’s caused by tropical weather or regular storms, the flooding has left thousands of U.S. homes under water, at least temporarily, and forced homeowners to seek help for clean-up. In many instances, mold remediation has been or will be necessary.
As flood waters tend to drive families out, the return home is a time to act quickly to reduce the threat of mold growth. Cleaning and drying out the home is the first goal, and can be expedited by opening windows and doors and using fans and dehumidifiers. Removing water-soaked items (carpets, wallpaper, ceiling tiles) and storing them outside the home—pending your insurance claim—is a sensible next step. Items should be sorted by what will be discarded and what may be cleaned or repaired. Cleaning wet items and surfaces with detergent is another part of the initial response to prevent mold growth. Also, cleaning and disinfecting the dishwasher, and other appliances, before use is recommended.
Homeowners will want to closely examine all areas of the house for signs of mold growth—even if flooding did not occur. Homes with roof or pipe leaks and homes with excessive humidity are also susceptible to mold growth. The visual inspection should include ceiling tiles, cardboard and paper. But, keep in mind, mold contamination is not always easy to see and could be contained within interior walls and ceilings.
When working in areas potentially contaminated by mold, use of protective equipment is recommended. Protection for eyes and skin includes gloves which prevent contact with both mold and cleaning solutions. Protective clothing can help prevent the spread of mold from contaminated areas to street clothes. Respiratory protection, such as a dust mask, can help prevent a homeowner from inhaling large particles but may not be adequate for some hazardous airborne particles.
The potential health risks and complex nature of mold remediation are among the primary reasons to hire a licensed contractor to handle the the work. An experienced water damage expert will understand how to safely and comprehensively evaluate and clean a home, from its floorboards to its heating, cooling and ventilation systems. A company that also offers contents restoration will be able to advise you about whether to salvage mold-contaminated items, such as clothes or leather goods, or discard them.