As a homeowner, keeping your space mold-free should be a priority. Not only does mold compromise the structural integrity of your property, but it’s also a health hazard to everyone living inside. Flash floods, humid climates, and major pipe breaks are all conducive to mold growth. More subtle issues, such as slow leaks and poor ventilation could also lead to mold infestation if ignored for long periods. While you can’t always prevent the conditions that lead to mold growth in your home, your response to these conditions is under your control. The key is to spot warning signs early and act quickly.
Early signs of mold are often subtle, causing mold to remain hidden and spread in silence. While you can keep a close eye on moisture-prone areas within your home such as below your sinks, you may not be able to avoid mold growth entirely. As a result, mold remediation can become necessary.
Discovering mold in your home can be overwhelming, especially if mold growth has persisted for some time or has spread to other areas. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about mold remediation so you know exactly what to do as soon as mold infestation occurs on your property.
What is mold remediation?
Mold remediation is the process of eliminating harmful mold growth in the home using mold testing, containment, and removal strategies. Mold remediation may require sanitization or even demolition depending on the type of mold that is found and where it’s located. The purpose of mold remediation is to remove existing mold and prevent future mold growth.
Understanding the threat of mold inside the home
Mold is a natural fungus that grows in moist areas. While mold isn’t necessarily harmful outdoors, it can be dangerous when concentrated indoors. Mold removal technicians recommend removing indoor mold as soon as possible.
Mold tends to cling onto starches that can be found on cloth, cellulose, parchment, and leather. This poses a significant threat to several items within the home, such as your walls, doors, and furniture. Once an area is infested with mold, the area becomes susceptible to further damage. This weakens the structural integrity of your home, which could render your property uninhabitable if left unattended.
Additionally, toxic mold releases airborne spores into the air, which are dangerous to the human body. Breathing in these toxins can negatively impact lung health and result in long-term health conditions. To prevent these unhealthy conditions, it's important to know the types of indoor mold that exist and how they affect air quality within a home.
Common types of indoor mold
All mold needs water, oxygen, nutrients, and humidity to grow. However, there a different kinds of mold that grow indoors. Here are some of the most common types of mold found inside of a home:
- Cladosporium: A green, brown, or black colored mold typically found on carpets and wood surfaces.
- Penicillium: A bluish-green mold found on food that causes allergies and respiratory issues.
- Aspergillus: A multi-colored mold that can be found in food, dust, and building materials that can cause allergic reactions and lung infections, as well as impact other organs in the body.
- Alternaria: A black mold that is commonly found in showers, bathtubs, and below sinks. This type of mold often triggers asthma attacks.
- Stachybotrys chartarum: A rare, dark green or black mold that produces harmful mycotoxins which can damage DNA, and kidneys, and impair growth in children. Luckily, this kind of mold growth is less common.
Health risks associated with mold exposure
Indoor mold poses significant health risks to members of a household, especially those with weakened immune systems or pre-existing health conditions. Exposure to harmful levels of mold can induce allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and neurological deficiencies.
Common symptoms of harmful mold exposure are a stuffy nose, sore throat, sudden coughing, excessive wheezing, burning eyes, and skin rashes. While these symptoms are minor, they could be lethal for someone with asthma, lung cancer, or other respiratory illnesses.
Mold can also cause more serious symptoms such as migraines, memory loss, and impaired motor skills. These symptoms suggest neurological impairments and should be immediately addressed. Neurological damage caused by prolonged mold exposure has been linked to long-term insomnia, depression, anxiety, an inability to concentrate, and numbness in the extremities.
3 signs of mold infestation
Mitigating indoor mold growth is crucial to keeping your home healthy and structurally sound. Here are three clear signs that a mold infestation has taken place:
Homes that have experienced water damage are at a high risk for mold infestation. Any kind of moisture accumulation within the home can encourage mold growth, whether it be a leaky faucet or a major flood. Acting within the first 24 hours is key to preventing mold growth. Homeowners should be especially wary of water leakage in and around the bathroom, kitchen, and HVAC system.
Another key warning sign of mold infestation is a stale, musty odor permeating throughout the home. Mold releases certain compounds into the air that create an earthy smell when mixed. The smell usually starts out mild and intensifies over time.
Unexplained allergic reactions
Lastly, allergies that appear out of nowhere can also be a sign of mold growth. Allergies are common in the spring, but less common in the colder months. If you or someone in your home suddenly starts to experience shortness of breath, itchy eyes, or dry skin, mold may be present. These symptoms often worsen in certain areas of the home such as basements, attics, and near air vents.
How does mold remediation work?
Mold remediation involves a two-step process that first removes and disinfects mold-infested areas within the home, and then prevents new mold growth in the future. While mold removal and prevention look different for every home, the entire mold remediation process stays the same. Here is how mold remediation works:
The first step to eliminating indoor mold is to contain it. Mold removal professionals will first isolate the affected area(s). This is done by closing all windows and doors as well as sealing mold-infested areas with six-mil polyethylene plastic sheeting. Once enclosed, a mold remediation specialist will mist the contaminated areas to prevent mold spores from spreading to other areas of the home and preserve your home's air quality.
The next step is to remove all visible mold from the home. If mold damage is extensive, mold remediation companies may remove certain home materials such as plasterwall or floorboards. Non-porous surfaces, such as varnished wood and stainless steel don’t need to be thrown away as long as these mold-infested items are properly disinfected.
The final step in the mold remediation process involves drying the sanitized areas with high-powered fans or humidifiers and ensuring no moisture remains. Restoration companies may replace whatever structural materials had to be disposed of in the isolation and sanitization phases.
When is mold remediation required?
According to the EPA, mold removal and remediation becomes necessary when mold covers more than 10 square feet of your property. This is often the case with floods, leaks, or burst pipes. Mold can also start to develop in damp areas within the home that are hidden from view, such as crawl spaces and basements. Although a mold infestation may start small, it can quickly spread if it goes unnoticed for an extended period. Once the mold has covered enough area, a mold remediation team should be called in to assess the extent of damage.
How much does mold remediation cost?
The cost of mold remediation depends on the amount of mold found, its location, and what items have been infected. Early detection is key to reducing costs. The sooner you call in a mold removal specialist, the better. You may not even need to remove mold if only an inspection is necessary. Mold inspections cost between $300 and $1,000. However, a complete mold remediation project can cost anywhere between $1,100 and $3,300.
Homeowners should know that some home insurance policies cover the cost of mold remediation. Most policies cover sudden and unexpected events, such as a burst pipe. However, mold growth caused by issues that creep up over time, such as unattended leaks or poor air ventilation, is usually not covered. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to verify the conditions and monetary caps of your mold remediation coverage.
Final thoughts on mold remediation
Discovering mold problems on your property can be stressful. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent mold from spreading. Homeowners are encouraged to immediately fix leaky pipes, regularly clean gutters, keep indoor humidity levels below 60%, and ensure proper ventilation to reduce the likelihood of mold growth on their properties. When these methods aren’t enough, assistance from a mold remediation contractor is recommended.
The most important aspect of mold remediation is starting the process early. Delaying remediation can have dangerous consequences for your property and your family's health. A mold remediation company should be called in as soon as water damage, funky odors, or unexplained allergic reactions start to appear.
If you’d like to take out a home improvement loan for mold remediation services but aren't sure you qualify, consider Point’s Home Equity Investment (HEI). An HEI allows you to borrow up to $500,000 against your home’s equity to fund necessary home repairs. Learn more about how an HEI works here.