Preventing and Removing Mold after Water Damage

When your business has been flooded, damaged in a hurricane, or severely affected by water through some other means, your first concern as you begin cleanup should be the presence of mold. Mold can not only irreparably damage your building and equipment, it can also affect your health. This danger, and the effort it takes to clean up the mold, increases the longer the mold is left to grow.

Now, if you find that the mold growth is extreme, your best bet is to call a professional, as they will be able to handle the mold effectively and without endangering others in the building. If the mold growth is still contained, or hasn’t started, there are several steps you can take to eliminate the spores.

Mold remediation safety

Humans can be exposed to mold through both inhalation and by touch. To prevent exposure when cleaning your building, you should wear an N-95 mask, gloves, and goggles. You should also try to block off the infested area from the rest of the building, as the spores can spread while you clean.

You should also make sure the building itself is safe to enter before trying to remove any water. Make sure the power is cut off to your building by calling the power company or having an electrician come in to verify.

Remove all moisture from the affected area

After you’ve removed the standing water, the next move is to dry out the area and stop mold growth in its tracks. This can be accomplished using a combination of fans and dehumidifiers. If the weather allows, you can also open some windows to get the air circulating.

First, though, you will want to remove the carpeting and affected drywall. You may be able to save your carpet, depending on the amount of damage. However, you should never reuse the padding underneath. This definitely needs to be replaced, regardless of the carpet damage.

If your drywall was touched by the water, you will need to remove those pieces, as water compromises the integrity of the drywall and mold can use the backing as a food source. You will need to check the trim and insulation as well.

Tackle the water damage on the walls and floors

You will need to disinfect the area as well as attack the mold, as flood water usually also contains sewage. A mixture of bleach and water will suffice for the first cleaning, then you can use a non-phosphorus liquid disinfectant to clean until all signs of the mold have disappeared.

TIP: When you are deciding how to redo your walls, make sure that you choose something that will allow any leftover moisture inside the walls to continue to dissipate.

Clean up mold on furniture, equipment, and fabric

Mold could have contaminated your equipment as it was exposed to water. That means your equipment all needs to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure you have removed all of the mold spores. A disinfectant should work on non-fabric surfaces, but any fabric should be washed at the hottest temperature the fabric can withstand. You can take upholstered items outside and brush them off, then leave them in the sun all day to kill the mold. You will need to vacuum the upholstery after the mold has been killed to remove the dead spores.

If you have any questions about the best way to treat your items, the EPA has put together a helpful table that gives you advice on the best way to tackle the mold cleaning based on the item.

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