By Don M. McNulty
Before you try to tackle a mold issue in your home, there are a few things you should know about mold overall.
The first thing to understand is that mold is a part of nature; it is a fungus, a living organism, whose purpose is to decay organic material. You can very much think of mold like a termite but on a much smaller scale. Their job is to help get rid of organic material.
Mold in various forms is everywhere. It is estimated that there are over three-hundred thousand species of mold. There are molds for every environment; whether it is hot or, cold mold will exist.
When I ask any one of the general population which mold is the most dangerous, they will invariably say black mold. The reason people say black mold is because the news media in the 1980s ran many stories about the dangers of black mold. So much so they scared the entire population into believing it was so dangerous their children would suffer brain damage and other developmental problems.
But the media never told us that everything they were reporting about black mold is that their claims have never been proven. Even to this day, in 2020, they have never been proven.
You should know the media was speaking about Stachybotrys chartarum mold. It is only found indoors, so you will not find it outdoors. Second, hundreds of mold species are black, so when you look at a black mold, it isn’t necessarily Stachybotrys.
Other molds are dangerous to the human environment. The first and most prevalent is Aspergillus fumigatus. This mold is called black mold on fruits, but it may appear greenish to pinkish cast in color and have fuzzy white fungus intermingled in other structure areas.
Aspergillus niger mold is almost everywhere in the United States, outdoors and indoors almost every day. We are used to breathing this mold without getting sick.
Aspergillus mold carries mycotoxins and left in the area to grow, can cause a lung disease called Aspergillosis. Aspergillosis sets up and grows in the bronchial and lung areas of its victim.
The difference between not contracting Aspergillosis or not first lies in your genetics. After that, it is from living or working in closed quarters with concentrated amounts of the mold. Being in close contact with more massive amounts of this mold is called a bioload. The greater the bioload and the longer the contact presents a greater chance of developing Aspergillosis.
Because Aspergillosis is not a reportable disease, it’s hard to know how many have succumbed to the disease. It is estimated worldwide that at least 3,000,000 people contract Aspergillosis each year, with a 15% mortality rate. Many of those who do not die are respiratorily compromised for the rest of their lives.
Of course, anyone who is allergic to mold(s) are at risk of many related immune problems and should be diligent about its eradication.
NOVICE v. PROFESSIONAL
The format professionals will be different from a homeowner attempting to remediate the mold. This writer recommends the homeowner attempt to remediate the mold only for small areas.
In the eyes of the novice, cleaning mold should be different than remediating the mold. For the sake of this instruction, Cleaning the mold represents having minimal amounts of mold around your tub or shower, and you have a returning fungus you attempt to get rid of using bleach or some other disinfectant. It disappears for a while, then reappears later.
If this is the case, then more than likely, you have some water intrusion that needs attention.
If this is a caulked seam, you can remove the caulk from that seam, then apply your disinfectant, allow it to thoroughly dry and replace the caulk. If the mold persists or the mold is in the grout, the problem just gained importance in how it should be handled.
Although you are beginning to approach the professional level, your skill sets might allow you to proceed.
Apart from the professional’s negative air chamber with Hepa filtration, I suggest you drape the doorway with a plastic sheet. That way, when the door has opened, a barrier exists.
If the mold is in the grout, it usually means there is a water intrution behind the wall. Think about it. Grout is not cellulosic; it’s cementitious. Household mold loves dark, stale, humid, or wet air that you would find in the wall void with a water leak present. The leak could be from a roof leak or a pipe fitting.
Professionals use an inferred camera and inspection to determine how the water may be intruding. Here’s what I mean. Is there a water pipe in the area that might be our culprit? If not, then a trip into the attic might enlighten us on an area of the leak. We would look for apparent water damage in the attic, or if not that, then dark streaks on the wood structures in the wall area in question.
While you are in the attic, inspect the whole of the roof area for leaks, it may reveal extensive damage that indicates a roof replacement.
Suppose no visible damage is discovered in the attic or suspect pipe in the area. In that case, you must conclude that the water intrusion is from water going through the tiled wall; you must open up the wall to inspect, revealing water damage indicating the source. If water is seeping through the tile and onto the wall, the wallboard will be wet and will likely crumble easily with little pressure. Before getting aggressive with the wall’s demolition in a question, apply hand pressure to the wall area where you see the mold. Is the wall spongy or stout?
If it’s spongy, then you found the issue. It’s time to complete the demolition and proceed with the rebuild.
If your problem was a roof leak, have the roof fixed.
If it was a pipe leaking, have it repaired,
If it was a wall, our suggestion is to build it back using the concrete board or green rock and use a liquid waterproofing membrane to be applied like paint on the wall before retiling the surround. A membrane will thoroughly protect the wall in case there is water intruding any time in the future.
If this seems more daunting a task than you’re up to, then give us a call. First Call Restoration of Kansas City, 913-909-0142 KS, for Missouri call, 816-804-0154.
We will come to your location for a free inspection and quote.
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