It’s one of those unfortunate realities of home ownership: Sooner or later, whether it’s flooding or a broken pipe, you’re going to experience water damage of some kind. Older homes are more susceptible, as are homes in wet or snowy climates—but water damage can truly happen to anyone.
When it happens to you, the first thing on your mind will be cleaning up the mess, assessing the damage, and taking steps to prevent it from happening again. If you’re lucky, you might only need to invest a few hundred dollars for cleanup and prevention. If the water damage event was significant, you could be looking at thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to rectify the situation. You might even be too busy to think about the other threat you face.
Preventing a mold infestation may not be at the top of your priority list when faced with a major cleanup operation—but it should be. Unwanted mold growth commonly occurs on the heels of water damage events, and ignoring mold can be costly in more ways than one. Besides causing serious long-term damage to your property and home valuation, mold exposure is recognized by government agencies as a serious health risk.
Have you recently experienced water damage in your home? If so, it’s important to acquaint yourself with post-water damage mold prevention techniques. Otherwise, you could end up with a whole new set of costs to worry about.
1. Mop and/or clean the floors
Water resistant flooring like tile or vinyl is a big advantage when it comes to water damage. After pumping out any standing water, all you need is a cleaning solution and a sturdy mop. Make sure to use a strong disinfectant solution to make sure that lingering mold spores or bacteria are taken care of. If you’ve had water damage on hardwood floors, it’s important to act quickly. The sooner you get the floors completely dry, the better your chances of being able to salvage the flooring as well as prevent mold infestation.
2. Get rid of wet paper and cellophane
Anything made of paper becomes a magnet for mold when it takes on moisture. That’s why stacks of magazines in the basement often get moldy, even without a specific water damage event. Mold loves the thin, porous texture of paper and is able to colonize it easily. If water damage has claimed things like books, papers or magazines, don’t kid yourself—they’ve got to go. Otherwise you’ll risk spreading mold spores to other areas of the home.
3. Ventilate early and often
Mold prefers trapped, stagnant air. It allows the spores to multiply and spread more easily, and creates the humid conditions needed for mold growth. Therefore, one of the first things you should do after a water damage event is open up windows and doors to allow air exchange. If you happen to have a ventilator, switch it on right away. Fans are also helpful in keeping the air dry and moving. Ventilation is one of the keys of mold prevention, water damage or not.
4. Remove carpeting and upholstered furniture
if water damage is severe. It may be tempting to try and salvage your wet carpets and furniture, but in most cases, water-damaged carpet/upholstery is a lost cause. The padding will also have to go. Once soaked, these materials are very difficult to get completely dry. They become a perfect place for mold growth.
5. Take out that damaged drywall
Some people cross their fingers and hope the moisture will seep out of their drywall and leave it none the worse for wear. This is a mistake. If you’ve had your basement (or other areas of your home) specifically waterproofed with special materials, then you might not need to remove anything from the wall. But if a standard drywall installation has been soaked through, the affected panels need to be replaced. Otherwise they’ll rot and become infested with mold, which will then spread. The same goes for many types of ceiling panels.
6. Bring in a mold remediation specialist
You may find that the easiest and most thorough way to address potential mold problems following a water damage event is to call in a professional mold inspection specialist. This will give you clear insight into what kind of mold problem, if any, you have. Many specialists also conduct lab tests to ascertain exactly which kind of mold is growing in your home. to assess your situation and conduct laboratory testing for mold. If a problem is discovered, remediation options can be discussed.
Can I steer clear of mold after experiencing water damage?
It’s entirely possible to keep mold out of your home, even if you’ve had water damage in the recent past. By knowing the underlying causes of mold growth, and why mold is more of a risk in water-damaged environments, you can ensure that mold infestation never enters the picture.
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