Mold is inherent in the natural world, but it poses a significant health risk when it forms in your home due to excess moisture.
In addition to being unsightly, mold contains allergens and other toxic substances that can cause eye, skin, nose, throat and even lung irritation. Prolonged exposure to mold can trigger allergic reactions in healthy people and severe reactions in asthmatics.
If your home has suffered water damage due to a plumbing mishap, weather-induced flooding, or any other reason of excessive moisture, time is running out to clean and restore the space to fight back. against mold growth.
“Floods cause more damage to a home than you might think,” says Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi. “Everything from your flooring to drywall can be damaged by mold within the first 24 hours, so it’s important to act as quickly as possible.”
If you’ve experienced water damage in your home and are wondering how to prevent mold, here are five expert tips that can help.
1. Cut the power in case of flooding
If you face a flood, says Carson, make sure your power is turned off. You shouldn’t try to turn it off, though, if the circuit breaker is near or underwater, of course – that’s a recipe for electrocution. Instead, call your electric company to have it shut down, or contact an emergency electrician better equipped to handle such a situation.
2. Call a water damage restoration professional
These professionals are used to emergency calls, and you should attend to them as soon as possible. Once there, they can give you an idea of the damage and what needs to be done to make your home habitable.
3. Try to eliminate standing water in the meantime
Provided the current conditions are not dangerous (for example, the water level is not so high that you cannot safely cross it), you should try to remove as much standing water as possible .
If you have a wet and dry shop vac, water transfer pump, sump pump – Carson said buckets will work too – you should start using them, if not all of them, to remove the most dirt. possible water while you wait for your water damage restoration professional to come.
Our favorite wet/dry vac is the 12-gallon VacMaster, which has eight different attachments and a removable motor for easy cleaning.
Any items that have gotten wet should be moved to a place where they can dry out, although some items are likely to need to be thrown away.
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4. Dry the space
“Water damage can occur in as little as an hour of flooding, so your next step is to dry out the space,” says Carson.
When it comes to preventing mold from water damage, open windows to let in fresh air, this will also help combat musty odors from saturated items in the room. Provided the electrical outlets aren’t in danger of water, Carson says it’s time to turn on some fans and have a dehumidifier do some of the work of drying out the flooded space. To get the job done, you need one of the best dehumidifiers, like the LG PuriCare 50 Pint.
“Dehumidifiers are a great way to monitor and control humidity levels, which helps since mold thrives in humid conditions,” says Carson. A hygrometer, which is probably available at your local hardware or home improvement store, will help you determine the humidity level. She notes that in the summer you want to aim for a humidity level below 60% in your home; in winter, the ideal level is between 25% and 40%.
Carson says if humidity levels remain high, a whole-house dehumidifier might be a better option. Consult an HVAC professional for recommendations on the best unit for the size of your home.
Carson says it takes at least two days to dry out a space that’s been flooded, though the exact time frame could be longer depending on where you live and where the flooding is in your home.
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5. Assess the damage
Depending on how much water was involved and how quickly you were able to start a restoration process after a flood, you will need to see what items, including flooring, could still be salvaged.
“Unfortunately, if your mats have been exposed to water for more than 24 hours, you’ll need to replace them,” says Carson. If you have tiled floors, she recommends cleaning the surface with a mixture of 1 cup bleach diluted in a gallon of water to disinfect the surface.
How to get rid of mold caused by water damage
Keep in mind that if mold is the result of water damage, you may be able to deal with it yourself. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that if the mold covers less than 10 square feet of area, you can clean it yourself.
Scrub moldy surfaces with detergent and water — or use Carson’s suggested bleach/water solution for cleaning tile floors — then let dry.
To avoid breathing in airborne mold, wear an N95 respirator. A pair of mold protection goggles is suggested to protect your eyes – make sure they have no ventilation holes – as well as a long pair of rubber gloves to protect your skin from mold and mildew. cleaning solution.
Also use gloves to remove moldy objects.
Carson says just because you can’t see mold doesn’t mean it’s not hiding somewhere.
If you still smell musty after cleaning the flooded space or if the water level was there for a long time before it could recede or be eliminated, call a certified mold remediation specialist for an evaluation by a expert.
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