After looking over the information on this page, take a moment to think about whether your family
is protected from the hazards of mold and allergens in your home. Mold can cause symptoms in humans
ranging from watery eyes to severe respiratory problems. If the humidity levels are high in your home
or if you have had any type of water leak or infiltration, you run the risk of mold beginning to grow
within 24 hours. We urge you to call Premier Inspection and Consulting LLC to speak with a mold expert
who can answer all of your questions. We can work through your mold concerns with a common sense
approach to evaluation and if necessary, remediation.
Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
Why is mold growing in my home?
- The key to mold control is moisture control.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
- It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Molds are part of the natural environment.
Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic
matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth
should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the
spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and
indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land
on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none
of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold
spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have
the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens
(substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some
cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or
touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive
individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms,
such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash
(dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They
can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks
in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold
exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both
mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the
allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of
inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is
ongoing. This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not
describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure.
For more detailed information consult a health professional. You
may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold
spores indoors, some mold spores will be found floating through the air
and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not
present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or
controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in
your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you
clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely,
the mold problem will come back.
Who Should Do the Cleanup
Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of
factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem.
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly
a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job
yourself, following the guidelines below.
Tips and techniques
- If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold
growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) guide: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.
- If you choose to hire a contractor (or other
professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the
contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and
ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the
guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government
- If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air
conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of
an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the
intake to the system), consult EPA's guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before
taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or
suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold
throughout the building.
- If the water and/or mold damage was caused by
sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has
experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated
- If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
The tips and techniques presented in this section
will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners
or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication.
Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It
may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling
tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold
can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous
materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces.
- Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. If
you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive
or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist.
Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration
and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or
water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask
for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with
What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas
- Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores.
In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold, you may want to wear
an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware stores and from
companies that advertise on the Internet. (They cost about $12 to
$25.) Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a
nozzle on the front, others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and
have removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores from
entering. In order to be effective, the respirator or mask must
fit properly, so carefully follow the instructions supplied with the
respirator. Please note that the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) requires that respirators fit properly (fit
testing) when used in an occupational setting; consult OSHA for more
- Wear gloves. Long gloves that
extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When working
with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves may
be used. If you are using a disinfectant, a biocide such as
chlorine bleach, or a strong cleaning solution, you should select
gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or
PVC. Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare
- Wear goggles. Goggles that do not have ventilation holes are recommended. Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.
How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished.
- You should have completed mold removal.
Visible mold and moldy odors should not be present. Please note
that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage.
- You should have revisited the site(s) shortly after cleanup and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.
- People should have been able to occupy or re-occupy the area without health complaints or physical symptoms.
- Ultimately, this is a judgment call; there is
no easy answer. If you have concerns or questions call the EPA Indoor
Air Quality Information Clearinghouse IAQ INFO at (800) 438-4318.
Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips
- Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when
water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp
materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens,
in most cases mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the
building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low. If possible,
keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50
percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured
with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50)
instrument available at many hardware stores.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
Actions that will help to reduce humidity:
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as
clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where
possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene
heaters produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless
vented to the outside.)
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when
showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking,
running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation:
- Reduce the humidity (see above).
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature.
Testing or Sampling for Mold
Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases,
if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since
no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores,
sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal
mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an
area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold
should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in
designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and
interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical
methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association
(AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
(ACGIH), or other professional organizations.
Suspicion of hidden mold
You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells
moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been
water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be
hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or
paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and
pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside
walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of
walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and
in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or
Investigating hidden mold problems
Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult
and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing
potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can
lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the
underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold
problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.
Cleanup and Biocides
Biocides are substances that can destroy living
organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such
as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine
practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when
professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when
immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not
possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold
spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the moisture problem
has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides,
always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never
mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or
detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is
not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.
Ten Things You Should Know About Mold
1. Potential health effects and
symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions,
asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
2. There is no practical way to
eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way
to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
a. venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside;
b. using air conditioners and de-humidifiers;
c. increasing ventilation;
d. and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning
6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
7. Clean mold off hard surfaces
with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such
as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
8. Prevent condensation: Reduce
the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping,
exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install
carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on
concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
10. Molds can be found almost
anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture
is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and