How to Prevent Mold After a Flood

Mold in the home can be a very pricy ordeal for property owners to undergo, but it can happen to anyone after experiencing water damage in their home. Here are some steps to help prevent mold growth after flooding on your property:

First, you will want to remove any wet carpeting right away. It is usually best to just get rid of it. If the carpet can be salvaged, clean, disinfect, and dry it quickly. You should never re-use flooded padding.
Next you will want to remove any wet insulation, even if the wallboard appears to be dry. Wet insulation will stay wet for a long time and lead to the growth of mold and other funguses.

After you have discarded those materials, you will then need to clean with a non-phosphate detergent. If you try to disinfect, make sure to follow directions on labels and never mix bleach with acidic components such as vinegar or ammonia. A disinfectant can kill a mold, but it won’t prevent the mold from coming back. Surfaces that have been contaminated with sewage or floodwater should be discarded.

You will want to do everything you can to speed up the drying process before replacing any flooring or insulation. Fans, dehumidifiers, and opening windows can help move this process along. Water damage restoration companies employ special equipment such as dehumidifying blowers that are the most efficient. If you can, you should test the moisture of the studs in your home using a moisture meter before you replace the insulation. Wood should drop below 20% moisture content by weight before you close the wall. Do not use vinyl wallpaper, as it will prevent further drying on the inside.

Here are some steps to follow for an effective mold cleanup:

Minimize your expose during the cleanup. People are easily exposed to mold by breathing in spores or fragments. Exposure can also occur through skin contact. You will want to wear gloves and a respirator (N-95 or better).

Isolate the work area and ventilate your home to the outdoors. Mold colonies can release their spores, sending many out into the air to affect other areas of the home. Sealing off the contaminated area from the rest of the house will combat this. Also, if the power is left on, use a fan to move air outdoors.

Remove and discard any materials that have mold residue on them. Any materials that are porous and have a moldy smell or discoloration should be discarded immediately. Also, if anything in your home was affected by the sewage that should be discarded as well. This can include ceiling tiles, wood products, paper, insulation, and carpet/carpet padding.

Clean the surfaces of your home. Any mold on nonporous materials such as concrete, metal, glass, or hard plastic can usually be cleaned. If it hasn’t penetrated wood, plaster, or drywall, it can also be cleaned. The cleaning solution must remove the mold as well as kill it, because dead spores can still cause health problems.

After you’re done cleaning, you may want to disinfect to kill any mold that was missed from the cleaning. In the case of sewage contamination, disinfection must be performed. You will want to contact your local health department or a restoration firm for appropriate advice on the subject. Consider treating your wood framing with a borate solution or coating to provide protection from termites and decay.

Next, dry all of the wet materials as quickly as possible. Heat with fans or dehumidifiers is your best option. New mold colonies can form in as little as three days if the materials stay wet. Wood and other materials may look dry, but they are still wet enough to support re-growth.

Lastly, you will want to stay on alert and looking for signs for moisture or new mold growth. If the mold does return, repeat the cleaning process and consider using speed drying equipment and moisture meters. If the mold did come back, it is a sign that the materials weren’t dry enough and should be removed.