Is Discovery Of Mold In Your Future?

You’ve just discovered black, green, orange, or yellow growth in your closet, basement, crawl space, bathroom, or attic. You probably are experiencing some form of microbial contamination, most likely MOLD. Mold is a fungi, which thrives under certain conditions, sometimes described by the acronym MOTTS.

  • M=MOISTURE – from floods, leaks, condensation, spills, etc.
  • O=ORGANIC MATTER – wood trim, wood, wainscoting, wallpaper, or the paper on insulation or sheetrock. Mold cannot grow on non-organic materials like metal or glass, however, mold can grow on the dust or dirt that accumulates on these materials. Bat guano, bird feces, dead rodents, and leaves are other sources of organic materials that may be in a home or business.
  • T=TIME – mold can begin growing within 24-48 hours of the introduction of moisture.
  • T=TEMPERATURE – mold grows best between the temperatures of 65 degrees F to 85 degrees F, the temps typically found in a home or business.
  • S=STAGNANT AIR – commonly found in attics, basements, infrequently used rooms, closets, crawlspaces, etc.

First off, mold spores are everywhere.  There are always millions of these microscopic spores in the air around us.  So are O-T-T-S.  It is only when M (moisture) is introduced to the mixture that mold begins to grow. 

Mold occurs in nature.  It is there to help clean up dead and decomposing materials here on Earth.  Imagine how unhealthy our world would be if every organic thing that died over the past 100 million years was just piling up and rotting underfoot.  Molds (and bacteria) break down these materials.  Some people have mild allergic reactions when they are exposed to mold in the outdoors. The real health issues can happen when mold starts growing inside structures and contaminates the indoor air quality.

Since mold grows in dark, damp, invisible recesses of your home or business, unless you are regularly opening walls, removing cabinets, or cruising crawl spaces, you cannot prevent mold growth if MOTTS occurs. However, here are some things that you can be alert to, that might help you to catch mold growth before it gets out of hand.

  • Keep humidity levels in your home or business as low as you can. No higher than 50%. Normal indoor relative humidity in Vermont would be between 30-50%.
  • Be sure air flows freely in your home or business. Use exhaust fans to vent your kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside.
  • Fix any leaks in your roof, walls, or plumbing.
  • Clean up and dry out any flooding within 24-48 hours. Mold begins to grow in this timeframe.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints (found at any hardware or paint store).
  • Clean bathrooms with mold removal products.
  • Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried right away. Don’t use carpets in bathrooms and basements where excess moisture exists

It is very difficult to “kill” mold, especially once it has been activated with moisture. The spots and discolorations you see are not mold, but rather the waste by-product (poop if you will) from the mold consuming the organic materials. Most of the over-the-counter products advertised to kill mold, are basically stain removers. They remove the waste by-products, but in most cases, the mold will continue to grow unless the source is removed-MOTTS.

Restoration professionals believe that the only way to remove mold from a building is to remove the affected materials, completely dry the treated with an anti-fungal agent, and then replacement of any removed or damaged materials can take place.

Professional restoration companies will require independent 3rd party air quality testing (pre- and post-cleanup) to determine the type(s) of mold to be dealt with; the extent of the contamination (one room or whole building); and finally, to make sure all mold was removed, and air quality has returned to normal.

Spring is an especially good time for mold to grow in your home or business. For one, people have been tracking lots of snow and mud (moisture and organic matter) into your home for a few months. Pipes can freeze and crack. Warming temperatures can melt the ice and bring a deluge of water into your structure. Ice dams on roofs can back water into your attic or ceilings. Spring rains and melting snow can end up in your basement. Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation on pipes, adding moisture to unseen areas. Lastly, your house or business has been closed up for a few months, causing stagnant air spaces. Should you find any of these things occurring, quick action, drying, and repairs can help to prevent mold growth. Your local restoration company can help you with all of this. They have the tools, technology, and knowledge to help find and remediate any issues you may have. The typical mold removal job could be up to 10 times higher in cost than a water removal and drying job.

This blog was written by Gary Pinckney, a partner at G.W. Savage Corporation. G.W. Savage is a professional Fire, Water, Smoke, and Mold remediation and restoration company. In the business for over 40 years, we have offices in So. Burlington and Rutland, Vermont. We are an IICRC accredited company (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification). Our technicians are trained and certified by the IICRC.