Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Healthy Home Mold

Spending More Time Indoors? Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Be Exacerbating Health Symptoms

Spending More Time Indoors? Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Be Exacerbating Health Symptoms

There’s nothing like fresh air, but with the winter here, you’re apt to be spending more time indoors. And because of that, the air you are breathing may be a problem. Why? Because mold spores, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead dust, radon, and other sources of indoor air pollution may be present. If they are, your health may be affected.

A Word About VOCs

Volatile organic compounds, which are in the form of a gas, are toxic vapors that emanate from man-made materials and everyday household (and workplace) items. A multitude of different chemicals fall under the umbrella of VOCs, including formaldehyde, benzene, plasticizers, and by-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform.

volatile organic compoundsProblem is, VOCs are found in thousands of different household and office products, from electronics to paint to carpeting to furniture, and are off-gassed over time. That means your home’s indoor air quality is likely to become polluted. Now, especially during flu season and the coronavirus pandemic, when these diseases affect the lungs even more, we need to be extra vigilant about keeping indoor air as clean as possible. Otherwise, the impact of VOCs on your health can be pretty steep.

VOCs and Your Health

Short-term exposure to and inhaling air containing elevated levels of VOCs can cause throat and eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and headaches. Long-term exposure, however, is linked to cancer, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Top Sources of VOCs

formaldehyde sourcesOne of the biggest sources of formaldehyde, in particular, are new building materials, according to an article in the New York Times, that points out that new plywood, particleboard, adhesives, varnishes, paints, and carpeting are all common offenders. Even if your home isn’t brand new, you can still be exposed to VOCs through painting, renovations, new furniture or bedding, household cleaners, disinfectants, cosmetics, and more.

Other Common Sources of VOCs

  • Electronics, such as copiers and printers
  • Scented candles
  • Fabrics
  • Adhesives
  • Toiletries
  • Composite wood products, like furniture and cabinets
  • Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth balls
  • Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  • Caulk
  • Wood burning stoves

According to the New York Times, one of the best defenses is to keep levels low in the first place by looking for “low- or no-V.O.C.” or “low formaldehyde” labels when shopping for paint, couches, mattresses and wood products. If you do purchase an item that has that “new car smell” or some other chemical odor, you should let it off-gas in a garage or an outdoor area before bringing it indoors.

What Can I Do?

The best defense against elevated levels of VOCs is fresh air and proper ventilation. This can be a challenge during colder months, of course, but there are additional steps you can take.

  • prevent poor indoor air qualityOpen your windows – even for just a few minutes a day – to circulate fresh air.
  • Make sure your HVAC system is in tip top shape. Mold and dust can easily build up in HVAC systems if you don’t maintain them properly, and pollutants will spread throughout your home, compounding the indoor air quality and VOC issues.
  • Test your indoor air quality. Mold and VOCs are responsible for approximately 80% of indoor air quality issues. Once you have identified a problem and the source, you can take steps to mitigate the issue.
  • If you have a newer, air-tight home, you may want to consider a whole-house ventilation system, as your house is less likely to “breathe” and release the build-up of toxins on its own. These systems can be costly, however, and don’t work in all homes.

indoor air quality testing

With us spending more time at home during COVID, it’s more important than ever to ensure your indoor air quality is healthy. If you think you may have an indoor air quality issue, contact RTK Environmental today to find out more about your options.

Live well!

 

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Why Is Santa Sneezing?

 

What’s Making Santa Sneeze? Let’s Hope You Don’t Find Out!

Stay off of Santa’s Naughty List! Nobody likes a stinky home. But an unhealthy one is even worse!

Musty odors are are a tell-tale sign that you may have a mildew or mold problem, which causes allergies, asthma, and other health issues. You probably can’t see the source of mold, so hire an independent mold inspection expert and check this off your list. Save your guests with allergies the embarrassment of sneezing on the holiday ham.

A healthy home is a happy home. We want to take the time to thank all of our clients and friends for your business. May you all have a healthy and happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

The RTK Family

Categories
Healthy Home Mold

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

Before the guests arrive, make sure your home is in tip-top shape with these often overlooked household checks. After all, healthy guests make for much happier holidays!

1. Musty Odors

You may think that musty odor is barely noticeable, but that’s likely because you’re used to it. Your guests will notice right away, and if they have allergies, sit them as far away from the turkey as possible, get them a box of tissues, and watch out for the sneezing that will ensue! A musty odor means that your home may have a mold problem, which causes allergies, asthma, and other health issues. You probably can’t see the source of mold, so hire an independent mold inspection expert and check this off your list!

 2. Indoor Air Quality Check

You’ve cleaned, touched up the paint, put in new air fresheners, and even replaced that old rug in the living room with brand new carpeting. You may think all these steps make for a healthier home, but each of these ordinary activities can actually cause poor indoor air quality. Dangerous VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are released into the air from many man-made materials, like detergents, furniture, cleaning products, and candles can cause headaches, fatigue, and other health issues. Studies have shown that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. It’s no wonder we tend to be sicker in the wintertime, when we’re sealed up indoors. Mold is also a major cause of poor indoor air quality. An indoor air quality test can assure that you and your guests are breathing clean air.

3. Clean the Bathroom Fan

This is a given, especially around Thanksgiving. Not only will a properly functioning bathroom fan help dispatch the stench from Grandpa Joe’s reading session, it will also quickly remove humidity from the air, preventing costly mold remediation after too many long showers and inadequate ventilation.

4. Holiday Decoration Hazards

Before you start swinging the hammer and staple gun to get those Christmas decorations up, find out if you are going to disturb possible toxins, such as lead paint or asbestos. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint, which is extremely dangerous when disturbed. If you are not sure, have your home tested. Also, many Christmas lights, artificial trees, and ornaments contain lead, so read the label carefully, and don’t put your family at risk for permanent neurological damage by purchasing products that contain toxins. Real trees can also be a problem, as they can release mold spores, as well as create mold on wood floors and carpets if you accidentally spill when watering them. Come January, you’ve got a moldy mess.

5. Check the Shower Curtain & Bath Mat

When was the last time you changed your shower curtain or bath mat? If you’re thinking to yourself, “never,” you’re not alone. But these two items are conduits for unhealthy mold spores, bacteria, and other nasty things. And if you have a guest bathroom that hasn’t been used in ages, you may assume it’s clean because it is not used that often. Do your guests a favor and look under the mat before you throw them to the spores!

TIP: An effective way to clean your bath mats and tub liners is to toss them into your washing machine on a gentle cycle with a few light-colored towels, laundry detergent, a cup of baking soda, and 10 or so drops of tea tree oil, which can kill mold. This should have them fresh and clean in no time!

6. Fix that Leaky Sink

In addition to wasting water, leaky sinks can cause big problems in your home. Moisture under a sink can immediately cause mold growth, which causes asthma, allergies, or other serious ailments. Since mold spores occur naturally in the environment, the best way to prevent mold growth is to curtail the moisture source.

7. Turn Up the Thermostat!

A frozen pipe that bursts during your festive dinner can be a disaster! To prevent a burst pipe, turn up the thermostat. This is even more important if you are going away for the holidays, because a quick drop in temperature may cause a pipe to freeze and burst, and you won’t know until you return – a week later – which can be catastrophic! Remember: It can cost more to repair damage from a frozen pipe than it does to keep the thermostat up a few degrees this winter.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season, and call us today to get ready for a healthy home for family and fun!

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold

How to Prevent Having a “Sick Home” This Winter

 

How to Prevent Having a “Sick Home” This Winter

Sick Building syndromeWith winter in full swing, we tend to focus on conserving heat in our homes and tightly latch storm windows, secure the doors from drafts, and check the attic insulation. But we should be thinking about keeping our homes healthy as well. Unfortunately, many homes, especially newer ones, are built so airtight that they cannot breathe – literally! So, a warm and cozy house becomes a “sick home”.

Top Causes of Sick Home Syndrome

mold inadequate ventilationInadequate ventilation is a top cause of sick home syndrome. The newer  “air-tight” homes are sealed so well that hardly any fresh air enters. Moisture builds up but can’t escape and that makes a perfect breeding ground for mold. Without fresh air circulating through your rooms, indoor pollutants including chemicals from paint or rugs, mold, radon, and other airborne particles, have nowhere to escape.

This can cause an array of health problems, from breathing issues to allergies to headaches.  Besides airing your home from time to time, you can take other preventative measures to reduce indoor pollutants:

mold humidityMold grows on water-damaged materials and can cause allergies.  To prevent it:

  • Clean humidifier, HVAC and air conditioning drain pans
  • Run your bathroom vent fan when showering and for 30 minutes following
  • Repair cracks in basement walls and floor
  • Keep your (outdoor) gutters clean, so ice does not build up.

Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that can over time increase the risk of lung cancer. It seeps into houses from the earth below.  Get your house tested this fall before winter sets in. Testing for radon is recommended once every 5 years, as your foundation can settle and crack, possibly releasing a new source of radon into your home.

lead paint hazards NYLead paint was used in homes built before 1978, after which it was banned. But many people merely covered the old paint with new. So, when sanding during renovation work or opening or closing windows, the dust may contain lead. Lead dust and paint chips can cause lead poisoning, which is especially dangerous for children. Lead poisoning has been linked to a host of issues, including autism-like symptoms and ADHD.  If you have an older house, get it tested for lead before you close up your house this winter.

volatile organic compound nyVOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials and everyday household items. When homes are closed and air-tight during the winter, VOCs tend to build up in the air, causing poor indoor air quality. This can cause headaches, dizziness, coughing, and other issues.  Try to limit use of and exposure to cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, candles, new furniture, carpeting or flooring, non-VOC paint, air fresheners, and other items that contain VOCs.

Your health and safety are paramount. If suspect you may have a “sick home”, have an environmental inspector come in to test your indoor air quality. It can make all the difference between a sick home and a healthy family!

Categories
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold

National Kitchen and Bath Month: Unknown Hazards Underneath Your Nose

National Kitchen and Bath Month: Unknown Hazards Underneath Your Nose

While renovating your home may not be top of mind as fall and winter roll around, there are still plenty of updates you may be thinking about. Whether it’s replacing your cabinets, updating the paint in the bathroom, or something smaller like changing the backsplash, there are a lot of factors to consider before starting your next indoor project. After all, you’ll likely be stuck inside while you make some changes to your home; it’s essential to think about those unknown hazards that could be lying underneath that wallpaper.

kitchen moldMold

No matter how clean you may keep your home, mold can still be present. This is one of the leading causes of respiratory issues. Exposure to mold leads to allergies, postnasal drip, and rashes, and the longer you are exposed, the worse these symptoms can get. The most common form that has to be removed is black mold, but mold will present itself in other forms that can hide from your normal cleaning routine.

While you may find this hazard in your bathroom due to condensation on the walls or leaky plumbing, indoor mold can actually be brought in from the outside; your shoes, the air flowing through the windows, and rain through a small crack in the ceiling can all be ways toxic molds show up in your house.

You may consider replacing plumbing fixtures to avoid some molds, but remember to check other damp spaces, like around your HVAC or air conditioning unit, areas near your windows and roofs, along with the attic and basement.

If you find mold anywhere in your home when starting your next DIY project, make sure to get it tested by a mold expert. Knowing exactly what type of mold is in your home will help guide how you choose to remove the material and prevent it in the future. Since any type of mold is caused by moisture, it would be a good idea to insulate windows and doors before the winter and even place dehumidifiers in areas where moisture is common.

Asbestos

Even though asbestos isn’t widely used today, it  can still be found in quite a few places in your home, specifically in areas like your kitchen and bath. Before starting any renovation,, it’s important to check any areas that may still house asbestos.. Older homes built before the 1980s usually have more character, but their age will also come with more hazards, including asbestos.

asbestos popcorn ceiling
Popcorn Ceiling

Used in popcorn ceilings, vinyl tiling in bathrooms and kitchens, and even exteriors like shingles and siding, asbestos is and was used as a fire-resistant material. However, once it deteriorates, it can affect the lungs, causing health issues like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other long-term respiratory issues. The signs that you have mesothelioma, however, look like that of normal health issues. Coughing, sneezing, and fatigue may be signs of plenty of other diagnoses, and because this form of cancer takes a long time to develop, up to 50 years – it can be hard to receive a diagnosis before it is too late.

A lot of these older homes also don’t have to necessarily disclose asbestos if there’s no sign of deterioration. However, if you plan on renovations or foresee them taking place in the future, it’s best to do some asbestos testing to make sure you and your family stay safe, especially if walls, floors, or other major areas are being taken apart.

Lead

Unlike asbestos, lead does have to be disclosed when selling a home. That being said, often the dangers of lead are similar – they don’t show themselves until deterioration. Home repair activities are where you can start to see health concerns take place. The EPA has an entire page of resources on lead exposure, and in most cases, the best thing to do is to clean regularly to avoid any unnecessary exposure. In more detrimental cases, leaving the home is the best-case scenario.

causes of lead poisoningBelieve it or not, lead-based paint can still be found in about 80% of homes today. Because of this, checking for lead in the home can be a key step in starting any project. While the hazards are much more known compared to asbestos and the array of toxic molds, it’s important to still check for dangers that seem elementary. You never know when items like lead paint on walls will start to deteriorate, and even if you decide to cover this up, the disruption of pain on the wall can cause health issues down the line.

If you found that you have lead paint in your home, it would be a good idea to have your household tested for lead poisoning at a regional treatment center. You can never be too safe when it comes to household toxins, especially lead paint.

There are plenty of hazards you’ll find as you start to take a look at your kitchen and bathroom. That being said, there are also plenty of ways to mediate these potential hazards before they go too far. Working with an inspector to test for items like lead and mold can save you money down the line, without putting too much work in before it’s too late. After all, finding out with floors ripped up that mold has to be removed, or that you have to close a room off for asbestos abatement is an obstacle no one wants to face in the middle of a project.

 

Categories
Mold Indoor Air Quality & Radon

What To Do If You Find Mold in an HVAC System

What To Do If You Find Mold in an HVAC System

For HVAC specialists, fall is a busy season. Pre-winter system cleanings are plentiful, as nobody wants poor indoor air quality – especially during winter months when windows aren’t opened to get fresh air. Many times, you’ll discover mold in drip or condensation pans, in ductwork, or around vents.

HVAC moldAs you know, dust and debris collect in HVAC and heating units over time. When those materials absorb moisture, mold can form quickly.

If you find mold on a job, stop work immediately so that you don’t spread the mold and cross-contaminate other areas of the residence. Then call RTK for a mold assessment. Since RTK only tests and never remediates, you can be assured our results are unbiased and accurate.

How does mold impact the homeowner? During summer months, condensation often occurs in HVAC units and ducts, and this can lead to mold growth.. Then, once the heat is turned on, microscopic mold spores can easily spread and contaminate clean spaces anywhere else in the building.

Signs of HVAC Mold:

  1. There is a musty smell in the dwelling.

  2. The homeowner is experiencing allergic symptoms, which may include a runny nose, trouble breathing, rash, or watering eyes.

  3. When the homeowner turns on the heat, they complain that their nose, throat, and eyes feel irritated.

  4. The homeowner suffers from unexplained headaches that go away when they leave the premises.

  5. They feel nausea, fatigue, and dizziness only when they are home or at the office.

  6. You see mold growing in the intake vents and around the air ducts and drip pans.

  7. There is staining around the vents.

mold iaqIf you find mold in an HVAC system, the best course of action is to have the system tested. An independent company, like RTK, can assess whether your client will be spreading mold spores when the heat is turned on.

Mold and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the most common causes of indoor air pollution and can easily be tested for and treated. Call us at 800.392.6468 to schedule a test or learn more.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

After the Flood: Warning Signs of Mold & What You Can Do

After the Flood: Warning Signs of Mold & What You Can Do

When storms soak an area with inches of rain in a short time frame, flooding is inevitable. If you had water in your home for at least two days, chances are some mold colonies are growing, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Here’s what you may not realize: mold may not be visible immediately, but its spores are growing.

Here are warning signs that mold may be a growing problem post-flooding, and advice to help you deal with it:

What’s that smell?

Although mold begins growing within 24 hours after water enters your home, it takes a while before you can actually detect the musty odor that means mold. So, over the next few weeks, be sure to keep your senses on alert for a musty smell developing in your home or business.

 

Why can I smell mold and mildew, but can’t see it?

Mold plays hide-and-seek, which is why testing is so important. Typical hiding places include:

• the back side of dry wall, wall paper or paneling;

• the top side of ceiling tiles;

• the underside of carpets and pads;

• around pipes – inside and outside your walls;

• the surface of walls behind furniture;

• inside ductwork;

• in roof materials.

What should I do about that musty smell?

It’s important to test for mold to determine where it lurks, as well as its root cause. Do-it-yourself testing kits can be unreliable. Qualified, trained mold inspection services are much more thorough and, therefore, offer the best protection. If you can see the mold on hard surfaces, clean it off with detergent and water. Be sure to dry the surface completely. If the problem is too large, a commercial cleaning or remediation company is your best solution, depending on the location.

Who should test for mold and when?

Consumers should have a certified professional test for mold, but they should not perform remediation services so as to avoid any conflict of interest. A certified microbial investigator will discover mold’s root causes and provide a detailed report with recommendations on how to remove the mold. You should test for mold before you hire a remediation company, and again after work is complete to make sure the mold has been properly removed and will not grow back and resurface a few months later.

What is the health impact of mold?

Mold can cause a host of health issues. It has been known to trigger allergies that cause headaches and coughing, as well as irritate the nose, skin, and eyes. For people with asthma, mold can make breathing particularly difficult. Read more in depth about the health risks of mold.

For more information on mold, click here.

Categories
Mold Healthy Home Mold Testing

Air Conditioning Mold Issues: Top Blunders that Cause Unhealthy Mold

Air Conditioning Mold Issues: Top Blunders that Cause Unhealthy Mold

 

It’s been hot. Really hot. And to keep comfortable, we’ve been turning to air conditioning to mitigate the misery. But what many people don’t realize is that by turning on the A/C, they may be spreading trouble – trouble in the form of mold spores – and that’s not so cool. Mold can cause serious health problems including respiratory issues, headaches, fatigue, rashes, itchiness, and other allergy symptoms.

Here’s how mold develops in air conditioning systems and what you can do about it:

Mold in Window Air-Conditioning Units

Some window units have reusable filters that can be cleaned with soap and water, while others are disposable and need to be replaced every 3-6 months. A dirty filter can serve as a food source for mold, accelerating its growth. Many units have a “check filter” light that lets you know it’s time to change the filter. Don’t ignore it!

Even the most expensive window air conditioning units can develop mold. Over time, dust collects inside the vents and other parts. Add a little humidity and mold will begin to grow, feeding on the debris and particles of dust. Many of the parts now used to manufacture these units are plastic, and mold loves to grow on this material. Condensation also loves to gather on plastic. You likely wouldn’t notice the air conditioner’s mold problem until you turn the unit on in the warmer months and that musty mildew odor appears.

window ac moldVery importantly, always be sure to tilt a window air conditioner back so condensate produced will drain outside, NOT inside where interior walls and floors will become saturated. There is a drain hole, usually at the bottom of the back of the unit where it hangs outside that allows this drainage to occur. But you need to go one step further. Interestingly enough, this hole usually has a plug in it for shipping purposes. Be certain to remove the plug when the unit is installed. Otherwise, the condensate will be trapped at the bottom and drain inside the wall and into your room.

HVAC Mold Issues

Ever see a water stain on a ceiling but you’re not sure what’s causing it?  It could be your HVAC air handler in the attic. Ductwork, A/C evaporator coils, and drip pans are the perfect environments for mold to grow.

condensate overflow

So, what causes this? When the condensate pan gets full, water needs to move freely through the drain to exit the premise. Unfortunately, drains often get clogged with debris from rodents, like nuts and sticks or just an accumulation of minerals and other gunk from the water over time. Some units have an alarm that sounds when the water gets too high in the pan, but you shouldn’t rely solely on that because they have been known to fail. Once the water overflows, it travels to the lowest point it can reach, usually dripping through a ceiling or wall. Once these areas get wet, mold can grow in as little as 24-48 hours.

hvac mold preventionAnother common problem is condensation around vents that causes mold growth. When you keep the HVAC unit at colder temperatures, condensation can build up around the ceiling and wall vents when cooler, air-conditioned air hits the warmer air inside a room. You’ll see the mold growing around the vents on the ceiling or wall surface. Ductwork can also harbor mold from condensation and dust accumulation. It’s important to have your ducts cleaned about every four years depending on usage, whether you have pets, and the type of climate you are in.

HVAC Filter Faux Pas

Changing your filters regularly is also key in maintaining your HVAC unit. Most filters are made from standard fiberglass. They are relatively inexpensive but are not fine enough to catch mold spores. Consider upgrading to a high-efficiency filter with a MERV rating of 13 or more. The MERV rating indicates the size of particles the filter is capable of trapping. A MERV 13 will trap almost all the typical airborne contaminants, including dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, smoke, smog, and even virus carriers. Be careful though, for some older units a higher MERV rated filter may impede too much air flow, so check with your HVAC professional if your air handler is more than ten years old.

how often should i change my hvac filterIf you see or smell mold coming from a vent or A/C unit, the best course of action is to turn off the system immediately, then call RTK for independent mold testing. It’s best to have the system tested by a professional mold inspector to prevent cross-contamination in the rest of your home.

Since RTK does not remediate and only tests for mold, there is no conflict of interest. Their comprehensive inspection will ensure you have unbiased results that will determine the best way to handle any mold issue. Call RTK at 800.392.6468.

 

 

Categories
Healthy Home Mold

Tips to Fight Household Mold this Summer

Tips to Fight Household Mold this Summer

It’s mold weather. Hmm? Yes, mold weather. The combination of heat, high humidity, and storms will invite mold to rear its ugly head. It may seem innocent, but it can cause major damage to your health and home. Here’s why you need to pay attention to mold:

Mold causes health problems.

All mold—whether it is toxic or not — causes health issues, including allergic reactions, sneezing, runny, itchy eyes, red nose, and skin rashes. Mold can also cause asthma attacks and can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.

mold coughMold damages homes.

Mold can destroy the things it grows on – including your home’s walls, floors, carpeting, and furnishings. Often times, mold grows behind drywall, under carpets, and under floorboards. This is dangerous because by the time you find out it’s there; you usually have a major problem. In extreme cases, mold can grow to the extent that the home cannot be remediated, and needs to be knocked down. The key is to control moisture in your home and eliminate mold growth before it takes over.

TIP: Keep your humidifier set at 50% or below during humid summer months.

Don’t wait – take immediate steps to prevent mold, especially after heavy rain.

The most important thing you can do is to control moisture levels in your home. If water enters your home, take immediate steps to get rid of it. Remove anything that gets wet. Use vacuums and fans to rid surfaces of any residual moisture.

TIP: Take action within 24 hours, as mold can invade your home in less than a day.

Another preventative measure is managing the water runoff from your house. If the water pouring off your roof has nowhere to drain, it can and will find its way into your home. Keep your gutters and downspouts debris-free. Also, make sure that your downspouts are adequately angled away from the house. Otherwise, water will collect at the edge of the house and leak into the foundation and basement.

Test for mold if water enters your house.

indoor moldOnce an area is dry, test for mold, especially if you smell a musty odor. Since do-it-yourself mold tests are often inaccurate, your best bet is to call in an independent, certified microbial mold inspector.

Don’t get scammed!

Make sure the company you hire to test does not also do remediation. An independent, certified testing-only service has no incentive to magnify the problem and increase profits through remediation services. They won’t bait you with “free testing”, and have nothing to gain financially by inventing problems in your home or business, therefore can potentially save you thousands on unnecessary repairs. Click here for more information.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a free download, Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home. Check it out HERE.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Can I Remove Black Mold Myself?

Can I Remove Black Mold Myself?

Q. I have black mold growing up the walls in my basement. Can I remove mold myself? – Nancy K., White Plains, NY

A. First, it’s important to keep in mind that mold — in any form — can be harmful to your health.

So all of your mold must be removed. There lies the problem: The mold growing on your walls is easy to see, but most of the mold growing in homes is hidden. The only way to pinpoint where it is lurking is with mold testing. (In our next blog post, we will discuss do-it-yourself mold testing kits vs. professional mold testing.) So yes, may be able to remove visible mold, but without professional testing, you won’t know how serious the problem really is.

You failed to mention whether your basement walls are cement or Sheetrock. If the mold is on Sheetrock, it is impossible to remove it. The moldy areas must be cut out, removed, and the walls must be replaced. And, if the moldy area is more than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), the EPA recommends professional mold remediation.

What you will need to assess and clean mold:

  • First, schedule a professional mold test to assess the situation. This will give you a blueprint of where the mold is, and whether you will be able to clean it yourself;
  • A mask or respirator to filter out the mold spores you’ll be disturbing;
  • Eye protection;
  • Rubber gloves;
  • Rags and a scrub brush;
  • Non-ammonia soap or detergent;
  • Large pail;
  • Bleach;
  • Fan and/or dehumidifier;
  • Work clothes, either old or white, since you will be using bleach;
  • Plastic garbage bag;
  • White vinegar.

Before removing black mold from a cement wall, dampen the moldy area well with a rag and plain water. This will keep the mold spores from disbursing through the air. Then scrub the area thoroughly with a scrub brush and non-ammonia soap or detergent to remove as much of the mold as possible.

remove moldNext comes the all-important bleach wash, which will remove any leftover mold, in addition to stopping future mold growth. In a pail, add 1½ cups bleach to 1 gallon of water. Wet the surface well with this mixture, letting it soak in for about 15 minutes. Scrub the area with the scrub brush. Then rinse well with clean, clear water. Repeat these two steps until all visible mold is gone. Next, use a fan and/or dehumidifier to dry the area well. If you leave any moisture behind, you are leaving your wall open to mold growth.

And finally, remove your work clothes in the basement, place them in a plastic bag, and head to your washing machine. The clothes will be coated with mold spores, and the last thing you want to do is track those spores throughout your house. Add ¾ cup white vinegar to your wash water to kill the mold on your clothes.

If you suspect you have mold in your home, call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6468 for information about mold testing or to schedule a test of your home.