Stopping a Mold Outbreak After Water Damage
Where there’s water damage — even severe dampness — mold can develop within 48 hours. It grows fast when there’s high temperature and humidity plus lack of light and air circulation.
Mold is a type of fungus that:
- Spreads fast, by reproducing tiny airborne spores, and feeds on organic materials (though it can grow on plastics, too!)
- Likes humidity — at 68°, it can develop if the relative humidity is 70% or higher, but will stop at 45% or lower humidity
- Is temperature-sensitive
- Can aggravate or cause health problems.
You can get a humidity and temperature monitor hygrometer at a home improvement store. Your goal is 45% or lower relative humidity.
Mold Health Concerns
Toxic vs. Non-Toxic Mold
Only a small portion of the 1000s of types of mold are toxic. Black mold is very common, but not all black mold is toxic. If you have concerns about the toxicity of mold in your studio or storage space, call a local hospital, health department, or university biology department.
DO NOT WORK IN A MOLD INFESTED SPACE if you — or others helping — have allergies, asthma, respiratory problems, or impaired immunity systems.
If working in a mold infested space
Avoid prolonged exposure
Always wear protective gear
Be sure to wash your hands and face with soap after general cleanup and salvage
Stop work immediately if you (or others) feel feverish, develop skin, nose, or eye irritations, or have other allergy-like symptoms, seek medical treatment.
8 Steps to Prevent or Stop a Mold Outbreak
1. Wear protective gear
2. Find the mold.
Check all porous materials (wood, paper, fiber, leather).
Inspect places with trapped moisture and poor circulation (drawers, closets, behind baseboards).
3. Document and report the damage
Use a cellphone, digital or video camera
If contamination is larger than 10 sq. ft or if there is sewage or other pollutants, call a commercial hazard or disaster recovery cleanup service
Check references, licensure, and be sure procedures are in compliance with industry standards. See Avoiding Post Disaster Scams
5. Assemble useful equipment and supplies if you are doing the cleanup
6. Stabilize the environment
Stop leaking or flooding
Remove standing water
Remove water damaged drywall and insulation
Use dehumidifiers, fans & open windows to lower the temp (to 70°) and humidity (30-60°)
7. Isolate the mold
Seal off a room with plastic sheeting.
Separate and cover moldy items with plastic sheeting or bags
Move undamaged items to a clean, dry space
Move wet items someplace where temp and humidity are stable and you can work
8. Scrub surfaces with 10% bleach/water mix (1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water)
Don’t turn on the heat
Never mix bleach with ammonia
If a major disaster occurred, you may wait some time for an insurance adjuster. In the meantime, absolutely do these things so that the company cannot refuse the claim because of your lack of vigilance:
Don’t completely dispose of any damaged property until it has been inspected by the insurance adjuster. Seal moldy items in plastic if necessary.
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