A musty smell in your home or even workplace is an indication that the place is affected by dreaded mold. Soon you or your family members may experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, eye irritation, throat irritation, and nasal stuffiness.
For people with a suppressed immune system, there can be more hazardous outcomes. Studies suggest that mold can cause respiratory problems, memory loss, pulmonary hemorrhage, and morbidity. So you should get that mold and mildew out of your home, office, closet, etc., as soon as possible. But how do you remove mold?
The process is long drawn, and requires considerable patience. It also requires you to wear some protective gear to ensure that you are not inhaling too much of the mold’s spores while trying to remove it. You cannot exactly see the spores, which would float freely in the air once you start clearing it. So you would have to close the door and seal the room where you find this enemy of your home, before you begin your fight. Sealing doors, windows and other openings with plastic is mandatory as the spores of the toxic fungi can travel freely inside the house and find a new place to begin their colonies.
Since you would be sealing the openings, you would need a respirator, and a face mask. You could develop skin allergies too, and so wearing gloves, and any use and discard full sleeved outfit is also necessary. Likewise, you would need something to cover your legs and other exposed parts of your body, including your hair.
You would then need the required equipment and consumables. If you want to avoid all of this process and the whole ordeal, it is a good idea to simply hire a professional mold removal specialist to take care of this task. Professional mold removal companies will make things much simpler as they would have all the necessary gear and equipment, not to mention, a great deal of expertise to handle this task. The equipment is specially designed for the job and so they are able to do the job efficiently and much more quickly.
On the other hand if you do this on your own you would have to buy several products. For starters you would need soap, a brush with hard bristles and a sponge. In addition, there are commercial chemical products required to remove mold, and these would differ for different types of molds and mildew. So you would need such a product as well, and you could use some mold detergents. You would also need a spray bottle that will then have to be discarded so as to rinse away the detergent.
Coming to the process, you would need to start off by making sure that you dampen the mold, especially if it is dry. That way the spores would not fly much and the chances of a fresh attack within the sealed room would be reduced. Thereafter, scrubbing the part where the mold is visible helps to shake up the fungi. The brush may not be useful for all surfaces. Soap water and a sponge can be used in such cases. Finally, it can be washed away with the spray and dried out. Naturally, the fungi would flow down or out, so it could still find a foothold somewhere to anchor and restart. So damping, scrubbing, washing and wiping needs to be done carefully, so that the chances of any mold attack are reduced and you would not have to go through this tedious process again in the next few years.
Bleaching powder is one of the most affordable as well as effective chemicals for removing such fungi infestations. It is especially useful for cleaning the ducts and vents. But such a job is for professionals because there can be unsightly discoloration in the surroundings.
What is mold?
Molds are fungi, which technically makes them plants. There are different types of such fungi. The most commonly found fungi are cladosporium, stachybotrys atra, and aspergillus. Each of these has a distinct appearance.
Cladosporium is black in color or at times it appears to be green, and it can be found inside the home as well as outside. Usually, it is found behind toilets. It can also be found in air ducts made from fiberglass, or other painted surfaces. This fungus cannot be classified as toxic per se. It, however, produces organic compounds that are responsible for that repulsive odor. Apart from ruining the walls and other surfaces, this fungus can cause health problems such as a sore throat, rashes, and watery or red eyes.
Stachobotrys atra is the commonly identified mold. You would find it at the joints in bathrooms, or near the kitchen sink. It is the slimy kind of mold. It needs more water, apart from cellulose rich materials, such as cardboard, paper products, ceiling tiles, etc. It can be found on wall paper, and damp building materials, especially wood. It can thrive on gypsum as well. Therefore, gypsum boards and wall papers in the home get covered with such fungi quite easily. This fungus is famous for producing mycotoxins, which may be responsible for pulmonary problems. Inhaling excessive quantities of spores from this fungus is very bad for the health. These fungi can find their way into your closet attacking your clothes, bags, or shoes, ruining them for you too.
Aspergillus is responsible for most of the fungi related allergies that humans experience. Its favorite haunts are food items. But it can survive on your carpet, and air conditioning unit and tract, upholstery, insulation, etc.
The list of fungi that can affect your health and your home given here is certainly not exhaustive. The mold removing procedure may have to be altered slightly depending upon the type of mold you are dealing with. Some of these molds may be more dangerous than the ones listed above. Therefore, it is always better to delegate the job to professionals who would be able to distinguish the type of mold and the best removal method for it.
What causes molding?
Dampness is clearly the culprit in most cases. Molds also require nutrients which they steal from cellulose containing objects, be it wall paper, cardboard, etc. It is surprising that molds survive inside fiberglass ducts or even in dust where they may not have access to cellulose or gypsum. But they do because the dampness form the air conditioning unit remains within the ducts. The presence can clearly be identified on the periphery of vents. Such fungi need to be pulled out carefully and thrown at a distance from the home so that the house remains free from this problem for a long time. That is easier said than done because this process requires special techniques and tools. Professionals can not only classify the fungi variety, but also remove fungi from such ducts.
Lack of proper ventilation helps the molds to propagate faster. Usually, ventilation is lacking in some parts of the house or building, like laundry, closets, ventilating shower, or kitchens, thus making them susceptible to mold attacks.
They can also travel into your house through your pets, handbags, clothes, bags, shoes, etc. Once inside, they propagate in an environment favorable to them. They are not easy to spot, especially on objects like carpets, until it is too late.
Some of these molds start growing within one day, while other types of mold may take as long as 10 days to start the regeneration process. Of course, having the right conditions for such propagation also has a considerable effect on the outcome.
How to prevent it- general tips
–Humidity levels need to be controlled. Dehumidifiers can help.
–Any leakages need to be attended to immediately, be it pipes, roofs, windows, or walls.
–Ventilation is critical. So periodically ventilating the laundry, kitchen including all the cabinets, shower area, etc., will go a long way in preventing these fungi from thriving.
–Flood waters often offer the right environment, especially when such waters enter a basement and the water is not cleared immediately. After all, it takes just one day for some of these fungi to start proliferating. Cleaning immediately may often not be possible as flood waters need to recede, and basements or whichever part of the home that water remains in, can only be attended to later. Since gypsum is one of the materials suitable for survival of these fungi, drywalls made from gypsum and roof tiles are particularly susceptible to fungi attacks, as are damp wooden parts.
–To prevent the fungi from surviving in the ducts, they should be cleaned periodically.
–Avoid using a damp cloth anywhere inside the house if you can. Iron or ventilate clothes during the rainy season. Remember that such fabric can ruin your furniture and furnishings. You might want to wear synthetic clothes in the season and pack your cotton and woolen clothes in some plastic bags.
–Wipe anything that can be damaged because of a fungi infestation, using a clean disposable and dry paper or fabric. Anything that is spilled needs to be wiped clean, and this needs to be done immediately, especially if it is more than just water. If it is spilled on carpet or upholstery then it needs to be dried well.
When do we need a specialist?
Ideally, a mold removal specialist should be called immediately. You will generally notice this when you start smelling that moldy odor, and you need to act immediately, before the fungi get a chance to spread too much. But some fungi do not cause a striking odor. Moreover, the odor itself is released at a later stage. This implies that the fungi has taken charge and will be around for a long time unless measures are taken immediately.
Professionals are usually called when a home is being purchased since any such infestation would be indicated by the home inspector. Even if you are buying a new home, it would not hurt you to call these specialists to check whether the home is free from fungus.
Such professionals will not only check the house for the presence or absence of fungi, but also advise you on how you can avoid your home from getting ruined by fungal infestations.
If you have suddenly noticed the infestation, and it seems to be rather insignificant, you should not make the mistake of forgetting all about it. You should consider calling a professional mold removal company immediately. Professionals study the type of fungi, and opt for methods that are appropriate for annihilating such fungi. They have the required gear, and they also carry some disinfectants or reagents that are needed to remove the fungi infestation effectively.
Being professionals, they would have NADCA recognition for cleaning the HVAC system. They also know better reagents to ensure that your home remains free from fungi infestations for a long time. Considering the costs involved and the type of guarantees these specialists offer, you might want to call one and be free from worry for the next few years!
The equipment and gear required is another reason you might want to resort to these specialists. Buying such equipment and not having any use for it afterwards is not worthwhile. So a simple cost benefit analysis will favor calling a specialist mold removal company. If you have any respiratory problems or allergies, and are prone to develop rashes, do not attempt to clear the fungi yourself. Instead call the specialist and save on your medical expenses and troubles.
You do need to watch out for such infestations after you have taken all the precautions and done the job yourself. If the fungal infestation resurfaces, it can be disheartening, and you might want to ignore it altogether, especially after all you would have spent and the effort and time placed on the job. Leaving fungal infestations alone means your house, furniture, clothing, etc., will soon get spoiled for good.
Alternately you could end up spreading the fungi through your HVAC system, or ruin the unit altogether. Because of such risks, and associated costs, seeking help from specialists is indeed ideal solution.
Specialists not only clean the mold but also use mold coatings and protectors to offer you a mold free environment for a longer period.
Cleaning detergents for mold
There are several mold cleaners, coatings and mold protectors available nowadays. There are products which are made from mild chemicals, and are thus safer. But laundry detergents and vinegar can also do the job. Many people use chlorine bleach or Domestos to clear up the mold. Borax powder is another good reagent. A cup of ordinary laundry detergent is usually used in a gallon of water. Needless to say, leaving the choice of cleaning products in the hands of a professional mold removal company is always the best option to effectively remove and get rid of the mold.