Figure 1 – Removal of carpet base revealed some surface mold growth. Our experience and instruments told us there was more. See Figure 2
Any discolorations on ceilings, walls, or flooring can be signs of microbial growth. When a “mildewy” odor accompanies that discoloration you can be sure it’s mold. When it comes to mold, existence of such an odor means there is active mold growth, but the absence of such an odor does not mean there is no mold. Mold goes through growth and reproductive cycles that cause it to give off odor, spores, and sometimes toxins. The only way to know for sure what you are dealing with is to have a professional assessment with appropriate sampling by an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) that does not do remediation (see Why Use a Third Party).
Figure 2 – Removal of wallboard reveals extensive active mold growth.
What we strongly discourage is trying to handle these things yourself. If after our assessment we determine it’s something you can DIY, we will gladly let you know and provide some helpful suggestions as to what pre-cautions you should take. However, in many cases what is visible on the surface of a wall or flooring is only the “tip of the iceberg.” (Notice please the two examples pictured here) Spraying or wiping it with bleach, or similar product, will not get what is behind the walls and it will not remove the harmful spores. In fact, spraying, fogging, or misting with chemicals will only exacerbate the problem, as the nature of mold spores is to fly away from liquids in this form. This goes the same for painting over the problem with “mold paint.” This only provides a false sense of security and allows more time for the mold colonies and spore levels to grow, and possibly cause you and yours more harm. Our assessment, and if necessary, Remediation Action Plan (Protocol) will provide a safe, thorough, but reasonable approach to your mold problem.
Make sure that any moisture intrusions are treated quickly and effectively. (See Moisture Intrusions page)
Depending on the source of the water and how long it has been standing the microbial growth can involve bacteria and viruses in addition to mold. Storm or sewer backups should not be handled yourself, they can contain E. coli, Hepatitis, and many other things harmful to us. A professional building drying company should be consulted (for a list of such in your area consult www.iicrc.org). It may be prudent to involve us at this point to provide third-party monitoring of the drying process. We can verify that proper equipment and processes are being employed. Furthermore, we can make sure that building materials are drying properly, and at a rate that will prevent microbial growth from setting in. This can save you from unnecessary equipment charges and the expense and disruption of a mold remediation down the road.