One of the common side effects of water damage in a household is mold. Mold can develop in a variety of conditions when excessive moisture is concentrated in a warm area without much ventilation. In the aftermath of a flood, water can leak into areas typically not accustomed to moisture, and if left unchecked, mold spores will settle and begin feeding off of the material they land on and grow.
Mold growths can cause substantial structural damage as well as pose a health hazard to humans, as spores are allergens that can cause a wide range of reactions from coughing and congestion to bronchitis and other severe respiratory problems.
So let's go over a few basic details about where mold can develop, and a few steps to take to address it before calling out a mold damage restoration specialist.
1. Cavity Walls. When water damage occurs, moisture can accumulate in the space inside walls and go unnoticed for months, if not years. Since there is no ventilation and the space is warm and dark, this is an ideal breeding ground for mold. Since this sort of mold growth can be hard to notice visually, be sure to have a professional mold inspection done so this possibility is not overlooked.
2. Wallboards. Flood damage usually causes these to be drenched. Depending on the timeliness of the response, these may be recoverable if the damage is not too severe; however, in ongoing cases of water damage these usually need to be replaced as mold can easily grow on these surfaces, making recovery and restoration more costly and time-consuming than replacement.
3. Paper. This is a combination of cavity walls and wallboards, in that paper provides a porous material for mold and can also go undetected due to many factors. Boxes full of old paperwork, books, and other situations can lead to mold developing in the site where paper is stored in large amounts. These can provide difficult to recover, and oftentimes mold-damaged paper must be discarded.
4. Carpet. Fortunately, there are many ways to address potential mold growth in carpet, as that tends to be one of the most prominent issues with water damage situations. Moisture in carpet is typically vacuumed quickly before mold can develop in emergency situations. In the event of an ongoing flood, however, the carpet will most likely need to be replaced entirely to prevent the possibility of mold.
5. Ductwork. This can be a crucial area in regards to mold, as air ducts provide ventilation for an entire household and can cause huge problems if mold develops. Moisture typically develops during cooler times of the year when condensation can be a factor, and if the air flow rates are not properly calibrated moisture can be carried to areas where it can build and allow mold to grow.
What are some of the steps we can take to avoid having a nasty mold infestation in the house? Keep in mind that there is no way to eliminate mold spores, as they are ever-present in the air. The real key is to control the moisture in the area to ensure that optimal conditions for mold growth do not occur. Here are a few basic tips.
1. Check for potential trouble spots. Before disaster happens, take a look at your property and see what areas can be prone to water leaks and damage. Do you have a lot of items in storage? Are there open spaces or closed ones next to areas with pipes or other sources of water? A basic inspection of the flow of your house can go a long way towards preventing costly repairs later down the road should disaster strike.
2. Ensure the property is properly ventilated. Proper ventilation goes a long way towards ensuring mold cannot develop. While most households are designed with this in mind, there are usually spots for improvement. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are typical areas with high moisture and potentially low air flow, so examine those first. Also, certain appliances such as dryers, stoves and air conditioning units can also be culprits for generating moisture so they need to be examined as well to ensure they are properly ventilated and maintained.
3. Use mold-resistant materials. When renovating or building structures, many modern products have been developed to be mold-resistant, including drywall, paint, and Sheetrock. These new products resist water and make it easy to prevent moisture from accumulating in areas with low ventilation. While the initial cost of material may be higher, these can often pay for themselves in the amount of preventative maintenance they provide over the years.
4. Monitor indoor humidity. In California, humidity isn't usually as much of an issue as it can be in other states due to the dry desert weather, but in certain seasons humidity can become an unexpected factor for homeowners accustomed to the dryness. If the weather conditions seem uncharacteristic or particularly moist, invest in a moisture meter from your local hardware store to make sure your home stays beteen 30-60% humidity, which is the EPA-recommended value.
These are just some of the basic steps you can take to prevent mold from causing costly damage to your home. As always, preventing a problem from occurring is the key to saving you money and time, so take a weekend to go through some of these pointers and save yourself the potential headache in the future.
Superior Restoration is a full-service water damage restoration firm servicing Temecula, Corona, Oceanside and other areas throughout the Inland Empire of Southern California. We are a family-owned business who have been in the industry for over ten years, and we take great pride in providing the best restoration services and customer service for our clients.