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Protection & Mold Prevention – How Mold Removal Works, Part 3

Now that we’ve covered the basics of mold identification and remediation, and the steps you need to take if you notice mold growth, it’s time to talk about protection: protecting yourself and other residents, as well as protecting the building itself.

Personal Mold Protection


When inspecting or even handling mold-covered surfaces yourself, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from immediate exposure to mold. We’ve already talked about this, but it’s worth going into more detail:
  • Protect your skin. Wear a protective, airtight suit. If you don’t have one and the expense of getting one is too high, wear any old clothes that cover your whole body, and then throw them in the trash after you’re done. No skin should be left exposed except where necessary – usually this includes parts of the face. Gloves are also essential!
  • Protect your lungs. the minimum recommended protection when dealing with mold is an N95 mask, but if you have a respirator with separate filter cartridges, you should ensure that you use a fine-grade P100 filter. Provided that the mask is a snug fit, this filter will block 99.9% of particles that are 3 microns or more in diameter.
  • Protect your eyes. The cheaper respirator and face protection products don’t cover eye protection. In that case, wear any plastic goggles that are a snug, airtight fit.

One other thing that many people miss with mold infestation is that there might also be bacteria present, and that bacteria may be releasing endotoxins everywhere. Endotoxins are typically pyrogenic, meaning they’ll cause a fever or another type of inflammatory reaction.

If you notice any such symptoms after inspecting the seldom-visited crawlspaces, go and see a doctor as soon as possible.

After a remediation is complete, and the building’s been fixed, it’s time to repopulate the premises with – you guessed it – stuff!

But now the problem is – all of that stuff is probably ripe with either dust, mold spores or dead mold itself. Maybe even a hefty amount of moisture, as well, depending on where it’s been sitting; a basement, for example.

Keep in mind that toxicity-wise, your body doesn’t necessarily care if the mold is alive or dead. It’s still bad.

Mold-proofing Your Stuff: Furniture and Clothes


After your stuff has been exposed to mold spores, it can later serve as a “fresh” source for new mold to spring from (given the right conditions). Cleaning porous and wearable materials can seem like a difficult job, but have no worries.

For clothes, the solution is washing it all with Borax, or other alternatives which aren’t aggressive on the textile colors. Car seats and furniture can be thoroughly vacuumed just for good measure. Your vacuum cleaner should be equipped with a HEPA filter, since the issue here is not just the odour, but mold spores as well.

Protecting the Building


Protecting the building itself is an extra expense, and really depends on the extent of the moisture problem as well as your budget. In this case we recommend consulting a professional mold remediation company before wasting money on unnecessary operations.

If needed, there are several ways to protect the building materials and surfaces using biodide and antimicrobial products. Some of these agents require very specific handling when used indoors so be sure to read the instructions carefully:

  1. ULV fogging machines – the cold Ultra Low Volume foggers can be used to disperse any completely liquid disinfectant with ease. The disinfectants commonly associated with protection from mold are Concrobium and Anabec products.
  2. Directly applied disinfectant – although bleach might be efficient for clothes, it’s a different story altogether when used on some surfaces, its active substance doesn’t penetrate into wood, so any hyphae that goes deeper into the wood will still be there ready to sprout new mold. On these surfaces use something like MoldStat Plus or Fiberlock Shockwave disinfectant.
  3. Some have suggested using lime (the same lime used for soil amelioration) for controlling odours in crawl spaces. Although lime is used for this purpose, among other uses, it is not a stable long-term solution for mold prevention. Which leads us to our next common issue…

Why You Should Often Check for Mold


Moisture problems are a recurring issue, especially in humid areas of the country. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be raining, as water can find its way into dry materials like wood or drywall paper simply from the day/night fluctuations of temperature and humidity.

Leaky pipes, broken roofs, lack of humidity control and ventilation – all of these can cause damp spots, and without water there can be no saprophytic decay. Luckily, with regular checkups, and even “nosing” around for musty odours, you can keep everything in top condition by reacting on-time and while there’s still a chance for a quick fix.

Like bacteria, mold grows at an almost exponential rate in its preferred conditions – what starts out slow may soon turn into another big remediation, so stay safe and maintain your properties.

It’s a low effort solution over a longer period of time, and without a doubt the best thing you can do to protect your home from a large-scale infestation.

Why Product Reviews Can Be Misleading


Whether you’re buying masks, filters, cleaning chemicals or anything else to aid you in your battle against mold, you’re likely to be searching for these products online.

It’s extremely important not to just look at the product reviews, how many stars it has, what consumers comment on Amazon or wherever you’re looking. Here’s a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, you might be looking at non-specific products like filters that behave exactly as advertised, but not blocking some gases that may be volatile compounds, emitted from the mold or bacteria themselves, or the damaged building material such as wood.

Second, when looking to protect your items and the building from a re-emerging infestation, note that it can take quite some time for recurring mold to become visible if the product/method was inefficient.

So if you’re reading reviews online about a product or service that advertises prevention, know that the people leaving the reviews might not have waited long enough to be sure enough of the effectiveness.

Saprophytic mold, feeding on things like wood or drywall paper, can take a month to visibly grow or even stay dormant until the right season comes – usually a combination of high humidity and moderate temperatures. This same mold can take 72 hours to grow in a petri dish in ideal lab conditions.

With that food for thought, feel free to write with any questions you might have or call us for consultations at Mold Solutions. We’ll do our best to try and help you out!


Mold Remediation, Preparation & Treatment – How Mold Removal Works, Part 2

In the previous post, we talked about how to perform a thorough search for mold, what the prerequisites for mold growth are, and provided a quick overview of the mold removal procedure.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from part 2 of this series:

How to Handle Different Mold Growth Situations?


When you’re buying a property, be sure to do a thorough check on the presence of mold. Document everything you see, take photos and video material to an expert or bring one along for inspection. The last thing you want is to put an extra expense on your back for both mold removal and furniture handling, after an already exhausting move-in.

You also want to avoid checking all the nooks and crannies of the location without protective equipment. You never know what you’re going to find, so just be careful, protect yourself or call an expert for a thorough check.

Another scenario that can prove costly, if you don’t think about health up front, is when renting or buying office spaces. Subjecting workers and visitors to toxic mold spores could cost you more than paying for mold remediation if you had known about the infestation from the get-go.

Find the afflicted areas beforehand, negotiate the price down if possible, or arrange that the previous owner deals with the problem first, and fix any moisture issues before signing anything consequential.

Common Types of Mold


It’s interesting to note that there are over 100 000 different types of mold, but only a few species are responsible for the majority of problems we’re trying to deal with.

There are also subtle differences between mildew and mold, but both are considered a type of fungus that we coexist with and are able to cause allergic reactions in humans, in certain cases.

You don’t need to be afraid of all types of mold, though. Some mold is actually very useful and an integral part of entire industries. There are molds used in cheese-making, synthesis and extraction of antibiotics (penicillin), and other uses like soy fermentation and enzyme production.

Only a few types of mold require professional handling, but you need to know how to identify these. You can find out more about the different types of “bad” mold in this article, which brings us to our next dilemma…

DIY Solutions For Mold Problems?


When can you solve the problem yourself, and how to do it?

In short, you don’t have to call in the cavalry for every type of mold growth. Bathrooms – showers, in particular – tend to be fertile ground for a type of mold that’s able to feed on soap scum and organic matter, and is mostly considered non-toxic.

If it’s not black or brown mold, you can remove it with easily-obtainable chemicals like grout cleaners and even white vinegar might do the trick. Vinegar usually doesn’t kill off and remove everything so you’re better off with the purpose-made products.

Be aware that even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people, so killing mold is one thing, but removing it to stay on the safe side is a much better proposition if you can afford to do it.

It shouldn’t take long to remove smaller patches of common bathroom mold. It takes up to 20 minutes for most mold removal products to do their job, just spray the afflicted areas. One thing to note is that some of the fumes released from these products can be irritating and unpleasant, so leave the bathroom window open after applying the product.

Wear rubber gloves for protection, not because of the mold, but because the chemicals you’d be using can be quite aggressive on the skin.

When to Call The Professionals


Like we mentioned previously, not every mold growth requires professional handling. Larger problems that have escalated due to long-term exposure to excess moisture require a plan of action and professional handling.

You could get away with just fixing the source of moisture, but if there’s mold growth and you can’t identify it with certainty, then you might find out that the problem hasn’t been solved when it affects your own or the health of other residents.

In the case of toxic black mold or brown mold, it’s best to stay safe and call your local mold removal company to let them handle it. For black mold, it’s near impossible to identify without looking under a microscope anyway.

Toxic mold requires much more time, diligence, and better protective equipment that’s also more expensive. There’s no reason for you to make such an expense for what’s supposedly a one-time job, and also lose a weekend or even worse – days off of work.

It’s also a job that’s very physically demanding in times or areas of high temperatures and high humidity. Depending on the age of the building, behind some walls may lie either asbestos or glass wool, both very dangerous materials to handle. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that’s still not completely banned in the US! Glass wool is known to cause respiratory issues and skin irritations.

All in all, professional mold remediation specialists get exposed to lots of hazards in their normal workday which is why their protective equipment has to be top notch. If you’re not sure what grade of particulate filters to use for your respirator, that’s a solid indicator that you don’t have enough experience to do this yourself.

The EPA has a basic guide on what the standard protective equipment for mold remediation should include.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Mold Solutions does offer free consultations, so call if you need anything.

How Professional Mold Remediation Works – Step by Step


The first task is to solve the water problem. Remember, mold only grows where there’s enough water, so the first thing that needs to be done is to cut off any sources of moisture:

  • Fix leaking pipes
  • Replace cracked roof tiles
  • If you live in an overall humid place (relative humidity 50% or more) a dehumidifier might help.

Once there’s no new water seeping into the molded material, we can begin the remediation procedure:

  1. Sealing off the contaminated area or room – this is done to prevent mold spores, dust, and other particulates from spreading all over the building. The room needs to be completely air-tight.
  2. Turning off and sealing off HVAC, heating and furnaces as these will help spread the mold spores as well.
  3. Removing affected materials (tapestry, drywall, wood or OBS, insulation, etc)
  4. Treating the remaining non-removable material (concrete, wooden framing, etc) with a biocide to kill off the mold.
  5. Placing all removed materials in airtight bags.
  6. Cleaning the room
  7. Mold Solutions uses Microbe Guard, a permanent, surface-modifying treatment that, once applied to a product, creates a new surface. This surface is permanently resistant to microbial attack.
  8. Final visual check.

With these steps completed, the owner is free to install replacement materials: insulation, new walls, tapestry or paint, et cetera.

The entire operation can last several days, but this varies on a case-by-case basis and you’ll be given a time estimate based on an initial inspection anyway so be sure to watch for that and plan some away time while work is in progress.

Why Spores Are a Problem?


Without water, mold will die, but the spores will stay. Once exposed to moisture again, the spores will continue spreading mold, which is why spores are quite a serious problem.

A disturbed molded surface or material will release spores into the air, spreading them across the premises. This is why removal must be done with care and remediation (protection) with extra diligence. You can read more about mold protection and prevention here.

When inhaled, mold spores can cause serious health issues, especially with infants, the elderly and anyone who has respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, bronchitis etc.

How to Find The Right Professionals in Your Area


Google is your friend here, so start your search there. Do your part and double-check that online reviews aren’t actually fake.

The company you hire must also have all the necessary licenses and permits. This is easily verifiable.

Mold Solutions is licensed, bonded and insured. The company has been in the business for more than a decade and offers free mold assessments in Seattle, Bellvue, Kirkland and other areas across Washington state.