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Is DIY Mold Removal Ever Safe?

Thursday, February 27th, 2020
DIY Mold Removal

Is DIY mold removal safe? It depends. Will it fully eliminate mold contamination from a house? Probably not.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mold contamination larger than 3 feet by 3 feet should be left to qualified mold remediation professionals. If a very limited area of mold growth on a non-porous surface is all you’re dealing with, put on gloves and eye protection. Mix 1/2 cup of household bleach with a quart of water, saturate a rag and wipe away the mold. Leave the surface wet and open windows to ventilate fumes until it dries. You’re done. Or are you?

What You Don’t See

Superficial mold is often only the visible evidence of more extensive, covert contamination you can’t see. Mold flourishes in chronically damp and dark spaces of a structure not frequently (or easily) accessible. From that primary focal point, active mold releases airborne reproductive spores that spread contamination throughout the house. DIY mold removal such as wiping away a very limited spot is well and good—if you’re careful. But, it doesn’t address the comprehensive problem in a contaminated house, nor potential hazards that come with removing it.  

How the Pros Stay Safe

Professional mold remediation teams arrive fully trained and prepared to locate and safely neutralize all mold growth inside a house, wherever it may be. Teams typically include a designated health and safety technician specifically certified by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration and Restoration Certification) to assure the safety of mold remediation workers. Crews are also specially equipped to reduce hazards when working around mold, including:

  • Full face mask with a filtered respirator
  • Protective overalls and booties
  • Rubber or nitrile gloves
  • Air exchangers to vent spore-contaminated air from the structure and induct fresh filtered air during the project
  • HEPA-grade air scrubbers to capture airborne spores in the indoor environment
  • Specially formulated antimicrobial chemicals to sterilize contaminated surfaces

Established safety procedures and specialized equipment for comprehensive mold remediation are beyond the scope of the average DIY-er. For anything beyond the most minor contamination, follow EPA recommendations and call a professional.

4 Reasons to Avoid DIY Mold Removal

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Mold growth can occur almost anywhere under the right conditions. Dormant microscopic mold spores are ubiquitous in nature, both outdoors and indoors. In fact, you’re probably inhaling a small concentration of spores right now. So, if mold is such a common event, why not just handle it yourself?

Actually, small outbreaks of mold growth in common spots like a shower stall or underneath a kitchen sink aren’t a big deal and respond well to a DIY approach with off-the-shelf disinfectants. However, when more widespread contamination—or the conditions that inevitably trigger it—exist, professional mold remediation is usually necessary.

Here are four examples of why you shouldn’t handle mold removal yourself.  

  • Contamination is time-critical. When mold growth conditions are present, such as indoor water damage, the consequences become dire in a very short time. Mold activates and begins releasing airborne reproductive spores within 24 to 48 hours after exposure to water. Confronted by the aftermath of water damage, few homeowners are prepared to take the steps required to interrupt the sequence of contamination in that short time frame. Rapid professional intervention is vital.
  • You don’t know how much there is. Mold spreads and active growth is often not limited to a single occurrence. Every house is different. To evaluate the extent of contamination, mold remediation specialists take air samples and count the captured spores. This important calculation provides a basis for a treatment plan to deal with the specific circumstances in each home.  
  • Mold type matters. “Mold” is a generic term applied to a wide range of fungal growth. Some things that look like mold, actually aren’t. Certain types of mold growth are more likely to be toxic to some persons while other types are relatively benign. Because it’s important to know what kind of mold is present, mold remediation specialists physically sample active growth and have it laboratory-tested for positive identification.
  • It could be harmful to your health. Contacting and removing mold without protective measures could cause allergic reactions or illness in certain individuals, particularly those with specific fungus sensitivities. Leaving the job to properly equipped professionals is a safer approach. 

3 Tips To Remove Mold From Washing Machines

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

remove mold from washing machineA common household appliance that cleans and sanitizes clothing is also a frequent source of mold contamination. How does that happen? If it’s a front-loading washer, the answer is in the design. Efficient front-loaders are now a popular choice to replace top-loading machines in many laundry rooms. However, while top-loaders usually dry out between each use, the waterproof design that prevents leakage from a front-loading machine tends to retain residual moisture inside the unit. This provides an environment for mold growth that may infect clothes and/or taint these items with unpleasant odors.

Here are three tips to interrupt the cycle of washer mold growth and keep your clothes sanitary and fresh.

  1. Ground zero for mold contamination in front-loading washers is the rubber door gasket. Deep creases in the gasket retain hidden moisture and conceal mold growth that contaminates the entire unit. Begin by making a 50/50 mixture of warm water and laundry bleach. Put on gloves and soak a clean rag with the mixture. Clean the door gasket thoroughly, pulling open the seal creases and wiping deeply to remove mold and mildew growth. If fungal growth is advanced, saturate several rags with the water/bleach mixture and stuff them into the seal crease, leaving the wet rags in contact with mold for 30 minutes. Following this initial cleaning, remember to wipe the door seal dry with a clean rag after every wash cycle.
  2. Remove the detergent dispenser, another source of potential mold contamination. Soak it in a 50/50 mix of hot water and bleach or vinegar, scrub it clean, then rinse and re-install.
  3. On a regular basis to eliminate mold in the washer and internal plumbing, run a wash cycle containing just a few small clean towels (many manufacturers don’t recommend running the washer totally empty.) Pour only a cup of bleach directly into the tub—no detergent—then select the hottest water setting and the longest wash duration. Some models incorporate a special high-temperature tub-cleaning cycle option that will help do the job for you.

When DIY Water and Mold Removal is Safe

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Is DIY water and mold removal safely doable? These two services are often mentioned in the same sentence — usually when a homeowner is discussing contracting with a certified professional water damage and mold restoration service. Nevertheless, many people consider taking on the dual tasks of DIY water and mold removal and rightly wonder what they’re up against. Here are some guidelines to make an educated decision.

  • DIY water and mold removalDue to electrocution hazard, if there’s any chance that outlets or wiring are wet, you shouldn’t consider DIY water removal unless/until a professional electrician has cleared the premises. Additionally, rooms with sagging saturated walls or ceiling should be off-limits due to the danger of structural collapse until a contractor has inspected the house.
  • Where the water originated matters a lot. “Clean” water, straight from a ruptured water supply line or fixture may be safely mopped up or removed. However, flood water from outdoors may carry a variety of toxins, and any sewage backup or spill contains dangerous biohazards. These sources of water should be avoided and left to professionals.
  • Pumps, wet/dry vacuums and fans typically available to homeowners at consumer-level rental centers are often not designed specifically for water damage restoration. If you lack the equipment utilized by professional water damage teams to get the job done, expect to get less-than-professional results.
  • If you can see mold growth on hard, impermeable surfaces, and verify that the extent is limited to an area of less than 10 square feet, you may be able to wipe it away with a 1:9 ratio of bleach to water. However, if mold is widespread and/or growing on permeable structural materials like wood or drywall, removal/replacement of these materials is typically necessary and calls for professional intervention.
  • If you suspect mold growth but can’t locate it, a mold remediation professional is needed to conduct tests that track down the location of mold and identify the type. Not everything that looks like mold is mold and not all mold is toxic.

Before you take on DIY water and mold removal, contact Rytech, Inc. about the advantages of qualified professional treatment.

Mold Removal: Can You Do It Yourself or Do You Need to Call a Professional?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

mold removalWhen household mold growth strikes, especially following water damage, you have a choice between DIY vs professional mold removal. Frankly, the hardy, self-reliant approach appeals to many homeowners. But that may risk allowing hidden, isolated mold growth to proliferate into whole-house contamination. Mold spores released by the millions from active mold unseen and untouched by do-it-yourself methods infiltrate household air and spread throughout living spaces. The health impact and effect on quality of life are substantial. When weighing the benefits of DIY vs professional mold removal, consider also the potential long term consequences of uncontrolled mold growth. (more…)