Can I have a mold problem if my house is only two years old?
Actually, given the proper conditions, mold colonies can appear within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. There have also been incidents where wood building products were contaminated with mold prior to being fastened in place at the home construction site.
Why can't I proceed directly to the remediation of the mold?
You can, but we recommend a mold inspection that includes moisture measurements of floors, walls, and ceilings. Any materials with a high moisture content can indicate hidden mold growth. Comparison of air and mold samples can also indicate hidden mold, as well as reveal what kind of mold you are dealing with. We will be happy to discuss different mold inspection options that best fit your needs and budget.
Should a mold inspection be included in the list of pre-purchase property inspections?
A mold inspection can provide invaluable information about any structural investment you are considering purchasing. Home inspectors sometimes report mold when it is visible, but they typically do not have the aid of specialized equipment that reveals hidden problems (please see the following answer). And, through air sampling, the Certified Mold Inspector can alert you if there is a mold-related indoor air quality problem.
What are some of the features of the mold inspection?
A Certified Mold Inspector will conduct an indoor environmental visual examination (survey) that is enhanced by state-of-the-art devices. Some of these devices measure structural moisture (moist conditions encourage mold growth), air particulates (high particulate counts can be identified with an air sampling device), and thermal variations (cool areas may have a high moisture content). The enhanced examination thus helps pinpoint otherwise invisible moisture intrusion areas where hidden mold may exist (example: inside walls). Mold testing is also offered by the Certified Mold Inspector and samples are collected by following scientific protocols (there is more on mold testing in the following answers). You also receive a written report with recommendations for your specific situation.
How can I benefit from mold testing?
Mold sampling (and testing) will supply answers to questions like: Are mold spore counts higher in my indoor air than naturally occurring mold spore counts outside? What kind of mold (genus) is growing in my home? Is the discoloration, found on the floor (or attic) joists, mold? Sample analyses can also assist your healthcare professional in identifying medical problems that could be related to mold. And, should legal action become necessary, "chain of custody" protected samples would be essential for providing evidence of mold contamination.
What standards exist for evaluating indoor airborne mold quantities?
—Indoor mold spore counts should be similar to those of the outdoor air in your immediate vicinity.— This axiom is supported by scientific principles and approved by recognized authorities of air quality. These authorities include, but are not limited to, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists; the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology.
How do I know if the mold in my house is toxic to my family and my pets?
It is difficult to be absolutely certain. Most mold sampling analysis does not identify mycotoxins, but it does reveal the mold genus. Genus results are compared to the list of molds that have the potential to produce mycotoxins (a few are listed in the following answer).
What species of toxic molds are commonly found in buildings?
Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Alternaria--all considered toxic.
Stachybotrys, Fusarium, and Trichoderma (also considered toxic), produce mycotoxins that are easily absorbed into skin, intestinal lining, airways, and lungs. Other toxic molds include Coccidioides, Blastomyces, Histoplasma, and Memnoniella.
How long will it take to receive testing results?
Collected samples will be promptly sent to an accredited microbiology laboratory for analysis. Normal turn around time for lab results is two to three days.
Does homeowner’s insurance cover any of the costs?
Mold remediation is sometimes covered by insurance, or it may be included under water damage repairs. You will need to contact your insurance agent for details.
What are some of the features of mold remediation?
Our technicians are trained in and conform to accepted containment, removal, and treatment procedures, ensuring that contamination does not spread to other areas of your home. HEPA air filters and vacuums are utilized extensively to reduce the likelihood of cross contamination. Without these stringent procedures, thousands of mold spores could be released, allowing possible mold contamination in other areas of the structure. Remediation services include:
* HEPA air filtration,
* HEPA vacuuming,
* negative air containment procedures,
* demolition, removal and replacement of damaged materials,
* cleaning and disinfecting of remaining building materials,
* antimicrobial treatment,
* attic and crawlspace treatment.
When are antimicrobial treatments necessary?
Antimicrobial treatments are useful when dealing with building materials that are not easily removed. Areas such as attic sheathing or crawlspace subflooring are expensive to replace and typically the mold growth is only superficial. Antimicrobial treatments provide an economical yet effective solution for these difficult areas. Additionally the area can be sealed with a stain blocking primer after the mold growth has been eliminated.
Where can the antimicrobial treatments be applied?
Any accessible bare wood within the home can receive the antimicrobial treatment. This includes attic sheathing and rafters, crawlspace materials and exposed framing.
Are the antimicrobial chemicals toxic?
No, the chemicals we use are registered with the EPA as non-toxic and are commonly used in both the hospital and construction industries.
Will I have to vacate my home during the mold cleanup?
Generally, mold remediation does not compel you to temporarily move out of your home. This is because the work area is enclosed in plastic sheeting (forming an air containment), and isolated from the remainder of the house. Exceptions include the remediation of a critical room, such as the kitchen or the sole bathroom of the dwelling. For example, if your house or apartment has only one bathroom (and that room requires remediation) it may be necessary for you to arrange for temporary quarters elsewhere. Individual room mold abatement can typically take four to ten days to complete (your unique situation may vary from this), and will not be accessible by you during that time. Other work condition considerations are covered in the next question.
What conditions can I expect to encounter during the mold removal?
While working in the containment, our certified technicians will wear Tyvek® suits (made of white tear-resistant paper that provides a dry particulate barrier) and air filtering respirators. Many of the moldy and water damaged materials will need to be removed from the premises. All affected wood studs will be "scrubbed" (sanded) to remove discoloration, vacuumed with a vacuum cleaner (HEPA filter equipped), and then sprayed with a fungicide. Air-moving blowers called "negative air machines" take in air from the containment and are exhausted to the outside--to create a fresh air flow into the containment. These blowers can also be used as air "scrubbers" to filter out mold spores while recirculating air. Dehumidifiers may also be used to remove moisture from the structure. These machines make a loud noise, and some must run constantly for the duration of the remediation and post-remediation testing periods.
Why must I test for mold again after the remediation?
It is very important to verify the effectiveness of the cleanup. Work can be evaluated using what is called post-remediation sampling, or clearance sampling. The clearance inspection and sampling are performed after the remediation is complete, but before the rebuilding (restoration) of the affected area. When the post-remediation sampling test results are satisfactory, the Post-Remediation Sampling Report provides professional third party documentation that the mold was effectively and completely removed.