What to Do After a Flood Event to Prevent Mold
Remember, mold begins growing within 24-48 hours!
With flooding there is certain to be issues with mold growth, in addition to contamination caused be sewage spills. Below is a list of things to do when your home has suffered from a flood event. The list is in priority of what to do first.
WARNING: If you are sensitive to mold you should certainly not stay anywhere that has been flood damaged and not professionally cleaned. After the first 24 hours mold begins to grow exponentially after flooding and other water damage events, it is a serious health hazard. Professional consultation must be obtained to keep you safe from toxic mold health issues. Total bio-hazard protection must be worn, and containment must be set up with a negative pressure area, and many other items that a trained professional knows how to do best. Damage caused by mold exposure is PROGRESSIVE and can cause permanent damage or you can become hypersensitive.
Protect yourself from toxic mold exposure. Get Professional help.
[ Observe all precautions regarding electricity and water foremost. ]
NOTE: Take photos!!! Before you begin the clean-up document for your insurance company. Videos and photos are vital. Also, be aware that insurance companies are more mold saavy than before Katrina and many have exclusions. Know your policy. If you don’t do a good job of cleaning and mold shows up later you may be on the line for more costs. If you can show your company what you did to prevent further damage it goes a long way. Document.
1. Remove everything that was soaked outside. (Rugs, furniture, drapes, mattresses, etc.) *Have tarps on hand to cover in case of rain. Area rugs might be saved. Carpet will most likely shrink and underpadding is definitely something to dispose of. From the start establish 3 zones: TRASH, UNSURE, and KEEP. The idea is to not have to move things twice.
2. Wet vac or mop or broom out any remaining water.
3. Purchase 1 or 2 dehumidifiers (the larger the better) and several box fans. Set the dehumidifier level as low as you can. Check the bucket often and empty outside or into the tub. You can place the machine on a counter near a sink and have it drain directly into a sink. Use the fans in upstairs windows or other rooms. Be sensible – a dehumidifier is not going to be much help in a room with open widows or doors. If there is no power do what you can to circulate air with open doors and windows.
4. Sheetrock has to go. Get out your gloves, and cutting tools. Normally there will be a water line on your walls when the water recedes. You are going to want to cut away any sheetrock that was soaked. The sooner you do this the less wicking will occur. Use a straight edge – like a large level and a box cutter or other electric hand tool to cut through the sheetrock. The baseboards and shoe molding will also need to go since mold loves wood. Fortunately these materials are all fairly inexpensive. ***BEWARE OF ELECTRICAL wiring behind the walls, use caution when cutting into walls.
5. Take out the trash. Do pull out soaked insulation material. Take safety precautions – use a mask and gloves so as not inhale the fibers. Again you can cut the insulation off once you reach dry insulation. Use contractor bags – cleaning up soaked bits of insulation out of your lawn for months is no fun!
6. The main thing is to CLEAR THE STRUCTURE. Your walls and floors take priority over possessions, they can be replaced, your home’s structure not so much.
7. If sewage contamination is a factor you are going to need to disinfect. A product with concrobium will kill most bacteria and viruses and leave a thin layer that inhibits mold growth. It is a non-toxic product and can be used on walls, furniture and flooring. Using a garden sprayer makes sense if you have rooms to treat. Mold simply loves drywall (paper and gypsum) and wood (baseboards, flooring, wood studs, and carpet tack strips. FYI: Treated wood does inhibit mold growth.)
8. Evaluate what possessions go or stay.
– Mattresses: best to let them go if they are soaked.
– Carpet – we recommend trashing it
– Rugs – if it is not beloved and worth a good bit of effort, let it go.
– Drapes – launder and dry, or dry clean.
– Furniture – large, overstuffed items that absorbed a great deal of water should most likely head to the curb. Pieces that are damp or had legs that were in contaminated water will need to be disinfected. If you have sunshine to work with that can help. Place the item on blocks to allow air flow all around. Be judicious about what you bring back into your home. Once they are dry and disinfected you may want to place in a ‘staging’ area like a carport or garage or deck area. Once the interior is stable it is a good idea to place the furniture that did get wet and that you have decided to salvage in a room with a dehumidifier for several days before returning to the home.
Damp stuffing is a virtual mold farm! Why guess and worry? Consider ordering a moisture meter they are inexpensive and a great tool to use to check items, walls, and floors for moisture.
9. As life begins to return to normal and repairs are begun consider adding a mold/mildew inhibitor to your paint as a precaution. Use a HEPA air filter in your den and bedroom. (HEPA filters are the only ones that trap the extremely small mold spores that cause all the problems.)
10. For the next few weeks or months, as a precaution, spray EC3 Mold Solution on a daily or weekly basis to further discourage mold from taking hold.
Here’s another point: If you SMELL mold, there IS mold. FIND IT! Use EC3 Mold Test Plates to pinpoint where mold might be growing. Our plates are superior to those found in most stores since our malt extract agar base medium is targeted to react to more molds.
Bottom line is that we want you to remain healthy and stay healthy and unaffected by the many, many side effects of mold mycotoxin poisoning.
PS: If mold does show up in your in home there are numerous articles on this site on how to remediate yourself or how to choose a qualified remediator.