addressed by the homeowner. A mold problem greater than 10 square feet should be handled by a professional who specializes in mold remediation. “If a homeowner is suffering health issues and suspects mold, or sees and smells
Homeowners can look for a NORMI-certified mold professional
mold, a mold inspector can be hired to come and assess the situation,” says Elder. Although a mold inspection will cost money, homeowners can get an evaluation on spore count in the air, a determination on the species of mold that has infested the home and a risk assessment that will help the homeowner decide of professional remediation or a do-it-yourself approach is best. “Certified mold remediators will often require a third-party assessment of a potential mold remediation job,” says Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI). “An assessment may cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500, but some certified remediators won’t do a job unless this step is taken.” NORMI also offers DIY assessment kits for homeowners. For $100 homeowners receive an instruction packet for conducting their own assessment of a potential mold problem.
In DIY remediation jobs, homeowners should wear gloves, eye protection, an N-95 respirator (which can be purchased at a hardware store) and a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Exposure to mold and airborne mold spores should be limited. The protective clothing worn to prevent contact and exposure to the mold will also help to protect against contact with—or inhalation of—bleach and its fumes, if such a solution is used. Some of the newer fungicides will have specific application instructions, and these should always be followed. When using a detergent or biocide like bleach, the area should be sufficiently cleaned so that there is no visible sign of mold and no odor associated with the fungus. The area should be cleaned, dried and revisited frequently to check for signs of new growth.
In the event that a professional needs to be hired, homeowners should look for a mold remediating expert, especially one who has received certification from a legitimate organization or association. NORMI trains and certifies professionals in a number of designations, from Certified Mold Assessor (CMA) to Certified Mold Remediator (CMR). Its Web sitefeatures a search engine to locate NORMI-certified experts by state. The National Association of Mold Professionals (NAMP) is another organization that trains and certifies professionals in the mold remediation field. The Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) also educates and certifies professionals in the indoor hygiene and microbial assessment and remediation fields.
Currently only two states in the U.S. have licensing requirements for mold remediation professionals: Texas and Louisiana. In states that do not have requirements, consumers should be wary of uncertified contractors as the risks of hiring an unqualified or uneducated professional to do a mold remediation job are great. “Certified professionals will know how to contain the job site, how to properly prevent future growth, and what current products are best-used for the job,” says Hoffman. As previously mentioned, inquiring into the products the professional will use is an important question for the homeowner to ask.
As far as the cost of the professional remediation goes, Hoffman says it is too difficult to suggest a price range, but he insists that a certified professional will know the most effective and least expensive method for any given job.
Mold Prevention The best way to control mold in the home is to control moisture. Properly ventilating the home, particularly in the bathrooms and kitchens, can make a significant difference in keeping the relative humidity below that 60 percent threshold. An efficient and effective fan (for the bathroom) or hood (for the kitchen) are wise investments for the homeowner.
A product like Concrobium Mold Control can be used by homeowners as a preventative measure. “Professionals like builders, remodelers and property managers are using Concrobium to pre-treat areas to prevent mold growth,” says Elder. Spraying Concrobium on surfaces or in areas that might be prone to future moisture issues is a good way to eliminate a mold problem before it begins.
For homeowners who are building, remodeling or replacing previously mold-infested areas and materials of the home, there are mold and moisture-resistant construction products available on the market. Georgia-Pacific’s line of Dens products includes DensArmor Plus® Paperless Fiberglass Mat Drywall, a GREENGUARD-certified interior gypsum panel that touts moisture and mold-resistant qualities. DensArmor Plus® eliminates the
DensArmor Plus® Paperless Interior Drywall from Georgia-Pacific
paper found in typical wallboard and instead uses fiberglass mats on the front and back of the panel. Eliminating the paper removes the food source for the mold and creates a moisture-resistant product suitable for many indoor applications. “DensArmor Plus® is great for basements, converted attics, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and anywhere with thermal or moisture vulnerabilities,” says Barry Reid, product developer and marketing manager for Georgia Pacific. Although the product cost more than the common drywall, using a moisture and mold-resistant wallboard can bring peace of mind to the consumer looking for long-term safeguarding. Other types of mold-resistant building materials found on the market include pre-treated drywall, which essentially coats common drywall with a mold-resistant treatment.
Moisture issues—like leaks or foundation cracks—should be addressed immediately. If a leak has occurred, affected surfaces, fabrics, clothes, etc. should be dried out within 24 hours to prevent mold infestation. Using a fan or natural sunlight to dry items is helpful in this regard.
The war against mold in the home is an ongoing one, but through moisture control practices, thorough and frequent inspections, new mold control and prevention products, and certified remediation experts, homeowners can feel confident that any outbreak of mold growth can effectively and permanently eradicated.