Experience in residential construction, maintenance and repairs hasn't made negotiating the mold remediation process any easier. It reminds me how challenging home repairs are for most homeowners. Now I'm in the same position, having to learn about the mold remediation process including who does what, and in what sequence.
Maybe knowing more than the average homeowner has added to my challenge. Living in a new location, it's been hard finding people who really know their business and have the confidence to explain things to you. Some contractors just try to scare you, really. Others have a good sales pitch but can't go deeper and explain how or why things are done a certain way.
Everyone I've talked to has suggested a different approach to removing the mold from my house. No wonder I'm confused!
- One mold remediation company said they could only provide an estimate for the areas with visible mold (shown above). They explained they would need the mysterious “protocol” from a mold testing company before they could provide details on how to handle personal property like furniture.
- Another mold remediation company seemed to agree with my concerns including the wall cavities in testing the indoor air for mold. Together we came up with a two-step process:
- Remove baseboard and do test cuts in each wall before the mold testing. But a few days later, they said the job was too small and the price tag too high, so they recommended finding someone else.
- They agreed to provide an estimate to remove 2 feet of drywall throughout the house, the standard approach to drywall that's gotten wet. Unfortunately it's been a week and … no estimate!
- A mold testing company confirmed testing the wall cavities is important. They explained there are different ways to test for mold inside the wall cavities, including thermal imaging that can see through the drywall.
Mold Remediation Process #1 – Mold Testing
The water mitigation team took much too long to dry the house out, so my biggest fear has been mold inside the wall cavities. Knowing this was a possibility, it didn't make sense to do the mold testing with all the walls buttoned up.
While talking to these various companies, I started to remove the baseboard myself (read: Replacing Baseboard After a Flood) and making test cuts like the one above. The challenge isn't removing these materials but rather putting things back together when done.
Mold Remediation Process #2 – Remove Mold
Once the test results confirm the presence of mold in unhealthy (red numbers above) amounts, it's time to begin mold remediation. Here's where it gets tricky because you need to separate items that can be cleaned and reused from those that must be discarded.
Mold Remediation Process #3 – Clean, Clean & Clean
With no first hand knowledge yet, I'll defer the details until after the work is done at my house. For now I can tell you cleaning means wiping everything from the ceiling to the floor, all non-porous surfaces and a whole lot more.
If you are determined to DIY this work, the best documentation I've found is New York City's report, Guidelines
on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments. They lay out in detail (training, cleaning methods and quality assurance indicators), the mold remediation process steps for:
- Small, isolated areas less than 10 square feet, like ceiling tiles or small areas on a wall.
- Medium size areas that are isolated, between 10 and 100 square feet.
For large areas (greater than 100 square feet), they recommend “Properly trained and equipped mold remediation workers should conduct the remediation.” introduce the type of equipment used in the mold remediation process.
Look what I found today … bright orange mold hiding behind the baseboard. You're right that there isn't much there but here's why my mold problem needs professional help. In addition to the mold here, there's a lot more black mold on the other side of this 7 ft long kitchen island. There's also mold on another kitchen wall that has 6 ft of cabinets. We haven't taken off all the baseboard in the kitchen yet, so after the mold test results come back next week, the mold remediation process will begin!
Tools Used in the Mold Remediation Process
For most DIYers, you're going to be dealing with a fairly small area with mold. Before you disturb the mold, you should put up a plastic wall to prevent mold spores from spreading throughout your house. Here's the ZipWall (above) that contractors use which makes it easy … or go ahead and devise your own solution. Either way, you'll need to use 6 ml plastic and dispose of it when done.