We’ve all thought about mold every once in awhile, about what to do if you see it in the basement. And we’ve all heard horror stories about mold being discovered after Sheetrock is removed from a seemingly mold-free home during a renovation.
Super Storm Sandy has made us all more aware of the possibility of mold in our homes -- especially in homes that flooded during the storm. And while it’s really important to make sure you have no mold growing behind your Sheetrock, most of us don’t know what to look for. Most importantly, how many of us know how to ensure that the mold remediation company you hire is doing the job thoroughly. It’s an expensive proposition, but one that is likely to be necessary in the wake of this storm.
I met with an indoor air quality company recently and found out some information about mold that I’d like to share.
The first thing to do after a flood is to cut the Sheetrock and the insulation at least 6 inches above the waterline. Mold loves Sheetrock and studs. Run a dehumidifier or large fans.
The spores are hovering in the air as well as in the Sheetrock, studs and insulation, and can travel from room to room. So try to limit access to the area by sealing it off. Even if it’s more than one room. You can use painters’ plastic tarps. Seal off the basement if it is a finished basement while you run the fans. If it isn’t finished, power wash the walls and floors. Mold spores start growing in the dampness after 72 hours.
We’ve all heard that it’s good to spray mold with bleach. But don’t. Mold should be washed down with soap and water first, and then sprayed with a bleach/water mixture. But … after flooding you should not be handling this yourself. The job is too big.
After your Sheetrock has been cut and you’ve run dehumidifiers and fans, you should have an air quality test.
Samples will be taken outside your home (for a control) and inside. If you’re lucky, the air quality will be fine and all you’ll need to do is re-insulate and re-Sheetrock. But you will need to be sure that the studs are completely dry before you do anything.
If you’re not so lucky, you will need a mold remediation company. They will use a moisture meter to ensure that the studs are dry, and then treat the studs with an anti-microbial spray, sand them and seal them. They will use negative air machines that suck out the bad air from the mold-infested area. And when they are done they will test the air to ensure that it is mold-free. Then you are ready to re-insulate and re-Sheetrock.
Make sure that you get documentation from the mold remediation company you use that shows all the work that was done, including the fact that the air was tested within 72 hours of completion. Make sure your contract with the mold remediation company states that the work must pass air test clearance.
Hold onto that documentation, because in this new era in Long Island real estate, buyers are going to be more cautious than ever about mold and air quality. Frankly, even if you’re not selling, you want to make sure your environment is healthy for you and your family.
As always, feel free to send me any questions and I’ll address them in my next column.
By Cathy Vingelli, Licensed Realtor, Hal Knopf Realty (firstname.lastname@example.org)