If not handled properly, mold growth in houses and offices can be a recurring problem. Incidents of mold growth disrupting the lives of people have increased in the past two years.
With the rise in indoor fungal and bacterial contaminations, the task of finding a professional mold removal services has become a challenge.
Once you observe those obvious signs of mold growth in your house or office and feel that things are getting out of hand, you need to hire a mold remediation specialist.
The checklist below will provide you a snapshot of how a professional mold removal service operates.
Since mold growth is usually visible, your remediator will start with a visual assessment to understand the extent of mold contamination.
The specialist can also use high powered light sources coupled with fiber-optic borescopes to survey hidden areas like cavities.
Additional industry-level tools/equipment will be used for the assessment; which will be discussed later in this post.
A mold removal specialist can also interview the occupants of the building to understand the following:
- The extent of mold contamination
- Events of water incursion in the past, if any and the pertinent details like how, where, type and how long
- Whether infected areas have been covered in the past with paints, sealants or other coatings
- The history of the building (this information will come in handy for the documentation process, which will be discussed later.)
Mold assessment and removal equipment used by mold cleanup services. Following factors will influence usage of equipment in this list.
- Geo location
- Structure type, age, materials involved
- Mold contamination level
Assessment/inspection equipment: Your mold remediation specialist should use some or all the below listed equipment to analyze and document the status of the structure, infected area and systems during remediation.
A professional mold removal company uses the same assessment tools and equipment at the same geo-location to ensure the following:
- Consistent data collection
- Accurate project forecasting
- Accurate budgeting and post-cleanup evaluations
Moisture sensors: Moisture sensors are used to determine the moisture levels in multiple materials. The device has multiple pins that penetrate the material to provide moisture level readings audibly or visually. These sensors help remediators to identify things that are beyond repair.
Moisture meters: Mold specialist uses moisture meters to review the moisture levels of materials with known or acceptable moisture content.
The result from the moisture meters are compared with the acceptable moisture content in materials and used to set target drying goals.
Thermo-hygrometer: professional mold specialists will use the same thermo-hygrometer to read determine the temperature and relative humidity in the contaminated area.
Environmental conditions are documented before, during and after remediation. If fluctuations in readings indicate conditions that support microbial growth, remediators take preventive measures.
IR Thermometers & Thermal imaging devices: IR Thermometer and imaging devices are used to detect moisture level fluctuations on material surfaces.
IR and thermal devices cannot provide moisture readings within the material. These tools list the materials eligible for a moisture meter check.
Supplemental systems: heating systems, air conditioning equipment and power generators can fall under supplemental systems.
Remediators use these systems when gas, fuel oil and electrical systems need to be disconnected as part of remediation efforts.
Any supplemental mechanical system used should adhere to the local laws and regulations set by the federal, country or the state.
Removal materials/equipment: a professional mold remediation service will strategize the remediation process using the following removal equipment.
6-mil polyethylene sheets/ bags: uncontaminated or occupied areas in the building are separated from the contaminated area using 6-mil polyethylene sheets.
Materials beyond repair are securely sealed using 6-mil polyethylene bags and discarded in composing landfill rather than recycling landfill.
Antimicrobial coatings and sealants: Water-based coatings and sealants with a standard permeability rating of minimum 1.0 perms as per ASTM D-1653 should be used.
Low odor, low volatile organic compound-driven and the ones that don’t create a vapor barrier are usually preferred.
Chemicals: A mold removal specialist will only use chemicals or antimicrobials in conjunction with proper cleaning standards.
The source removal of mold contamination is always the priority. Indiscriminate use of antimicrobials, coatings, and sealants can trigger health concerns like asthma, headache, and itchy eyes.
Safety work practice checklist
A professional mold remediation service adopts the best workplace safety precautions. Some of these restrictions or precautions are:
- Enforce wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a daily inspection before use
- Electrical safety practices like using Lock Out, Tag Out (LOTO)
- No edible consumables or smoking in contaminated area
- Proper containment of PPE before moving from one area to another
- Enforcing the use of multiple gloves to address the concern of personal injury
- Adhering to buddy system while working in isolated or high heat workspaces
- Daily standup meetings to track progress, layout deadlines and review safety concerns
Project documentation & record keeping
How many of you have thought about checking whether your mold removal specialist keeps a record of the recent remediation work? If yes, do you know how detailed their documentation is? Are the same person involved in the future remediation work if mold reoccurs?
A perfect mold project document and recordkeeping are critical for successful execution and completion of the remediation project. This documentation becomes inevitable in cases of mold reoccurrence.
Perfect project documentation will have the following:
- The complete list of readings and observation for all materials and areas involved
- Documentation of important communication
- Pictures of previous conditions
- Strategies used to decontaminate for e.g. use of specific chemicals, sealants etc.
- A detailed work/activity log that lists the technicians involved in specific activities, how long, the outcome and any potential risk identified but not resolved during the project
Identifying a professional mold removal specialist is a tricky task. Review this checklist and ensure that the specialist that you hire has experience with all the pointers listed above. This can be your starting point.