Avoiding Mold After Water Damage

water-inside-the-houseIf a flood, leak or some other unfortunate event has resulted in water damage in your home, the last thing you want to think about is what could happen in the future, but it is something you need to address right away. Water damage creates the perfect environment for mold to enter and grow inside your home. To prevent this pesky fungus from taking over, it is important to stop the problem before it has the chance to start.

If a flood has occurred, return to your home as soon as it's safe to do so. Take pictures of the damage and start the cleanup and drying process immediately. Many people wait for the insurance adjuster to see it in person, but in a large-scale event, that could take days. The longer you wait to start the cleanup process, the higher the risk mold will seek refuge inside your home.

When cleaning up water damage, the preferred way to avoid mold growth is to hire a licensed, trained and insured professional in the home restoration business. It is understood, however, that this is not always an option, so the list of tips below has been created for your benefit. Before starting the cleanup process, make sure you have the proper tools and safety equipment necessary for the job.

1. Carpeting

After a flood, the carpet should be the first to go or be cleaned. If your water damage was not the result of a flood and doesn't necessarily need to be removed, make sure to clean, disinfect, and dry it as quickly as you can. Keep in mind carpets vary from one another in thickness and absorption, which means some carpets are more difficult to clean than others.

2. Insulation

Since insulation is in the walls, it sometimes might be out of sight, out of mind. This is a reminder to not forget about insulation during a flood or leak. If your insulation gets wet, no matter what the cause, get rid of it right away. Insulation that gets wet stays wet for a long time, resulting in the perfect environment for mold to grow without being noticed. If you’re ever unsure about your insulation being wet, but don’t want to breakdown your walls to find out, clean everything else in the room and then use a moisture detector to pick up levels of moisture inside the walls.

3. Disinfecting

Following directions is imperative when cleaning up after water damage. Disinfectant can help destroy molds, but it will do nothing to prevent it from coming back in the future, so don't rely solely on disinfection. Also make sure you do not use any detergent that contains phosphate. This substance is mold food and will help mold grow, rather than hinder it.

4. Drying

It is important that you do your best to make sure all surfaces are completely dry before replacing any damaged materials. To speed up the drying process, you can use a dehumidifier, fan, air conditioner, or heater. If you replace the wallboard, insulation, or flooring before the subfloors, slabs, and framing are completely dry, you run the risk of mold showing up in those damp areas.

Although mold affects each person differently, high exposure or long term mold is harmful to everyone. Mold exposure can cause asthma attacks or allergic reactions that can range from mild to severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence that mold exposure was linked to respiratory illness and asthma development in children that would've been otherwise healthy. Don't underestimate the affects that mold can have on your home and your family. Make sure to utilize these tips when cleaning up water damage that may occur in your home in the future.

Sam Ott writes for Paul Davis Restoration of Kansas City-experts in home restoration. To find out more about water damage and how to prevent it, visit their water damage page.

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