How to Prevent Mold After Water Damage?
If your home has experienced flooding from any source, you probably have a lengthy list of renovations and repairs ahead of you. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, you also have secondary concerns like mold and mildew as a result of this excess water.
You need to know what to do if your home has experienced water damage in order to prevent mold growth. Avoiding this issue is likely to lead to a mold infestation, which is much harder to handle.
What Causes Mold?
To understand mold prevention, you first need to understand where mold comes from.
Mold spores are present in the environment naturally. They enter our homes on our clothes, pets, and floating in the air itself. These spores eventually land on household surfaces. If the conditions are right, a single spore will spread until it becomes a visible colony.
Mold needs these things to thrive:
Oxygen - Oxygen is everywhere, so you won’t have any luck in restricting the oxygen supply to potential mold colonies.
Food - Mold feeds on organic material, including fabrics, wood, paint, and dust particles. Keeping your home clean minimizes the risk of mold, but if you have water damage, the water itself could be carrying particles that mold can consume.
Moderate climate - Anywhere between 41 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for most mold varieties (although some can grow in much colder or warmer temperatures than these).
Water - This is where the trouble with water damage lies. Our homes have a certain level of humidity, but after flooding, that number is sky high
As you can plainly see, the conditions for mold growth are perfect after flooding from storms or leaks. In the following section, we’ll explain what you can do to prevent this water damage from turning into a major home disaster.
Preventing Mold after Water Damage
There are several steps you can take to decrease the chances of your home developing mold after flooding. Most of these are things you can do on your own, but you can also use a general handyman or a mold specialist for any of the following tasks:
Dry the area as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
These efforts should take place within 48 hours of the flooding. The amount of time it takes to remove water from an interior area is directly related to the amount of damage it causes.
Removing it quickly is the most effective way to prevent mold growth.
Using a variety of methods, get the water out any way you can. Standing water should be swept out or removed with a wet/dry vacuum. If the weather is nice (dry and moderate), open windows and doors to circulate air. In addition, you can run dehumidifiers and fans to help this natural process along.
Visually inspect the outside of your home.
Pooling water can seep into the foundation, basement, or crawl space of your home, so while you may not have a mold problem immediately after flooding, you can experience a major mold infestation months later due to this water source.
Standing water around your home needs to be drained if it doesn’t drain well on its own.
Consider having your yard re-graded and landscaped to direct water away from your foundation. You should also check the gutters if pooling water is a consistent problem.
Throw out water damaged materials.
This includes furniture, carpet, insulation and drywall that cannot be fully dried and cleaned.
As you (or your hired professional) assess the water damage, you should immediately start removing these items and building materials so they do not add humidity to the room, making it harder to dry other items.
You may be able to salvage most of your carpet, drywall or insulation by only removing water damaged sections, but keep a close eye on nearby areas to catch signs of water damage you didn’t initially see.
Throwing away valuables can be devastating, but it’s the only way to ensure that mold growth won’t occur. We strongly recommend against putting water damaged items into storage, as they most definitely will spread mold to other stored items.
When you replace these items, look for mold resistant varieties so you won’t have to toss out valuables if you ever have a similar case of water damage.
Pay attention to odors immediately after cleanup.
Mold has an unmistakable musty odor that you can’t get rid of or cover up. The only solution is to get rid of the mold itself. Therefore, this odor is a dead giveaway that you have mold growth somewhere in your home. The flooded or water damaged area is a good place to start searching for it.
Hopefully, things don’t get this far. The best case scenario is that you get the water out fast and don’t have any lingering effects from it. If that is, indeed, what happens, consider yourself lucky.
Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners take on the task of water removal and mold prevention themselves because they think it’s easy or they want to save money. They end up doing a poor job because they don’t know how to do the job right, they don’t have the equipment to do a job of this size, or they aren’t thorough enough.
If you insist on doing the cleanup yourself, follow the tips above to the letter. Don’t cut corners, or you’ll end up with a mold problem that’s hidden behind your repairs and renovations. Fixing a problem twice is double the time and effort.
Instead, consider calling Pure Air North Carolina. We offer a mold inspection to identify the extent of the problem and demo-free mold remediation that's affordable and safe for your home and your family!