Why Virginia And DC Homeowners
Shouldn’t Remove Mold Themselves
Protective Gear Is Just The First Reason Among Many
Many Virginia homeowners may be tempted to take care of mold problems on their own, but that would be a mistake. Entire books have been written about the proper way to safely remove mold from a home, and for good reason.
The mold remediation process is a slow and careful process that, to be done correctly, requires a lot of knowledge and even more preparation and labor.
Trying to do this on your own, without the requisite knowledge and experience, can lead to dire results for you and your family.
Understanding Household Mold
Household mold is a problem best defined by spore counts. When mold colonizes part of your home, it releases enough spores to raise the overall spore count in that area and can even affect other rooms of the home. It’s this concentration of spores that causes danger to you and yours.
While mold spores are, indeed, in every breath you take, the concentration is low enough not to harm your or your family’s health. But when mold spores are allowed to congregate in an enclosed space, the spore count can skyrocket well above normal and make things uncomfortable for anyone in the area.
Signs of high mold counts are:
- Itchy Skin
- Shortness of Breath
For the more vulnerable members of your household (old, young, chronic illness) the effects can become more serious with asthma attacks and worse.
The Trouble With DIY Mold Removal
Many DIY mold blogs are available on the web, but almost none are based on learned experience, and none come from a scientific, knowledge-based account of proper mold removal.
As a consequence, those who follow the directions from these DIY sites end up experiencing problems, such as:
- The mold you see is almost always the tip of the iceberg. Only see a 1 square foot section of moldy drywall? Cut it out, and you’ll find it actually runs 5’ along the backside of the wall and 2’ tall.
There is usually 3-10 times more mold on the backside of the wall. And this “backside” mold growth is usually much heavier and thicker than the mold you see on the front side. So what people think is a small project is actually quite a bit larger.
- Read enough on the internet, and you’ll eventually find several reputable free sources that say homeowners can cut out less than ten square feet of mold themselves (EPA and CDC guidelines on mold). But this is terrible advice. You have to educate yourself.
Where did this ten-sq-ft rule come from? It goes all the way back to the first mold guidelines in the US – the 1993 New York City guidelines on mold. They said experienced maintenance staff could remove less than 10 square feet of mold.
We like going to the mold nerd conferences around the country. These original authors are still alive, and off the record, they admit they just came up with this ten-square-foot number out of thin air.
One of the authors counted the shower tiles during his morning shower and figured ten-sq-ft was good enough. This ten-sq-ft rule has absolutely no roots whatsoever in health or science. It’s completely made up.
Now, their goal was admirable. At the time, panic about mold was gripping the country. What they wanted was to deter people who were freaking out about a little bit of mold in their bathtub tile and demanding their entire apartment be gutted.
Also they only intended for building maintenance personnel to remove the “less than ten-sq-ft” mold because these people would have at least a clue about PPE and setting up basic containment.
The authors never intended for Harry Homeowner to go tear out five-sq-ft of mold on a Saturday, wearing no protective gear, setting up no containment, and spreading mold spores across their whole house for their family to breathe in.
So beware of free advice.
Containment Is Essential For Safety
Proper containment just isn’t possible when tackling mold as a homeowner. The equipment is expensive, the methods exacting, and the consequences high if it isn’t done properly.
When you act to clean away mold in your home, the air is filled with millions of mold spores. Without proper containment, those spores will rush into the rest of your home, seeking new spots to colonize. Not only are you risking the expansion of your mold problem, but you are devastating the air quality in the rest of your home.
This danger is why we spend so much time and energy creating a proper containment area in which to do our work. We not only cut the area off from the rest of the home, but we also create negative pressure in the work area to ensure the spores go only where we want them to – outside.
Proper Personal Protection
You may have seen images of “mold technicians” wearing only a half mask and think that’s all you need to be safe, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We use a full head-and-shoulder-covering apparatus called a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator to keep our technicians protected and comfortable. They run around $1,500 each and can’t be rented.
We elected to use these systems because we started to notice negative effects on our health when we used the cheaper options available to the general public. There are still many mold remediation companies (most in fact) that use these cheaper options, and we don’t envy their technicians.
Unless you are willing to spend big on personal protection, you risk your health when attempting to remove mold on your own.
Knowing Where Mold Hides
As it is with cockroaches, the mold that you can see is only half the battle. Mold colonies like to hide on the backsides of wall panels and even on the studs and joists that support your home.
If you aren’t experienced in hunting down mold in the places it likes to hide, the chances of you missing a colony is high.
We know mold like no other and know exactly where to look for those hidden colonies in your home.
Proving Your Work
A key step in the mold remediation process is verifying that you’ve done all you can to balance the indoor mold counts with the outdoor counts. Verification is best done by a third-party verification service that will ensure that your mold counts have normalized.
Even the professionals sometimes have to go back and clean up an area that failed the verification process. If we have to do that sometimes, what are the chances that you might miss something?
Mold remediation is too important to your family’s health for guesswork and, without verification, that’s all you’ll have – a guess.
If you are worried that you might have a mold problem in your Virginia or DC area home, contact Valor Mold Removal for a free estimate.