How to Get Rid of Black Mold

How to Get Rid of Black Mold

Black mold can lower your home’s value and cause numerous health problems in people, some severe enough to cause death. This unwelcome guest will appear in any humid, damp areas of your home like basements and bathrooms. Prevent health problems in your home and potential structural damage to the building itself by attacking the problem early on. The best way to ward off mold infestations in your home is to prevent it before it starts.

WHAT IS BLACK MOLD?

Mold on wall

Black mold, also called toxic black mold or stachybotrys chartarum, is a microfungus. It likes to spread through cellulose-rich materials – think the walls of buildings. Buildings that have been water-damaged are especially susceptible to black mold infestations.

What Causes Black Mold?

Mold begins to grow under a certain set of conditions. Mold spores must be present and have a food source, such as drywall. A dark, warm, and damp space will allow the mold to flourish and spread.

Some situations that can produce these conditions include:

  • Damp basement
  • Water in foundation
  • Flooding or other water damage
  • Leaks from pipes or roof
  • Lack of ventilation

What Does Black Mold Look Like?

Black mold is greenish-black in color and has a gelatinous, slimy texture. You’ll also notice black mold has a distinct smell of mildew and must.

But keep in mind, black mold isn’t the only mold with this same appearance. Having an expert identify the mold present in your home can help you decide how to proceed.

How Can I Tell If I Have Black Mold?

Peeling and bulging wall

Pay attention to the walls and ceilings of your home. If you notice any peeling or bulging it could be a sign of black mold growing. The mold may be hidden within your wall, leaving only these signs, or it may be present on the surface of your wall and clearly visible.

If you see only a few small spots don’t pass it off as no big deal. Small spots of mold could be indicators of a much larger colony growing out of sight.

Pay attention to the inhabitants of your home or building – are their allergies flaring up? Allergies and the distinct musty mold smell are both signs you could have a black mold problem.

Keep an eye on these black mold hotspots in your home or building:

  • Showers
  • Laundry rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Basements

The presence of mold, even if it’s determined that the mold present isn’t black mold, is still something that should be addressed.

How Dangerous is Black Mold?

Ingesting or inhaling the spores from black mold can cause health concerns in people and pets. Once it is in a person’s system they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritated eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Dry Skin
  • Difficulty breathing

Black mold can potentially be fatal, its effects depend on how susceptible you are to illness. For young, old and immunocompromised individuals, black mold is more likely to be fatal than in healthy adults. Individuals who suffer from an acute mold allergy are also more likely to face harsh side effects from ingesting black mold spores.

CAN I REMOVE BLACK MOLD BY MYSELF?

You can try to remove most mold from your home on your own. There are home remedies for black mold, but depending on the severity of the spread it may be wise to turn to an expert instead of patching together a DIY solution. If you’re overwhelmed by the extent of work needed to eliminate all mold spores from your home then it’s best to seek out a professional.

CLICK TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL RESTORATION EXPERT

Contact Your Local Restoration Expert

Preparing to Treat for Black Mold

If you do decide to face the black mold infestation on your own, protect yourself using the following safety measures in addition to a long sleeve shirt and pants:

  • Respirator
  • Facemask
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection

Safety gear for cleaning black mold graphic

HOW TO REMOVE BLACK MOLD WITH 5 NATURAL METHODS

If you want to attempt your own attack against black mold spread in your home, there are go-to natural methods that may eliminate the fast-spreading spores.

Keep in mind, if you notice the black mold returning within the two days after cleaning, contact a professional as soon as possible to keep your family or employees safe. Black mold can completely infest a home within 48 hours – keep monitoring the situation to prevent spread.

1. Ammonia

Create a half ammonia, half water solution in a spray bottle and using the bottle, spritz all affected areas with the mixture. Let this sit on your walls for ten minutes to kill the mold. Then once the solution has sat, scrub the area with a brush until all mold can be wiped away.

2. Bleach

Use bleach on all non-porous materials to kill off any mold spores. Create a solution that is part bleach and part water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on all affected areas and let sit for ten minutes. Once the solution has had time to kill the mold, scrub the area with a hard-bristled brush then wipe away all residue with a paper towel.

3. Vinegar

To kill black mold with vinegar, simply soak a paper towel and apply it to the affected area. After an hour, follow-up with a paper towel soaked with water. Use this to wipe away the vinegar from the affected spot and the black mold with it.

4. Borax

Create a mold-killing solution of one cup of borax per one gallon of water. Use this solution to wipe onto all affected areas. From there scrub the solution into the area, wiping away all mold and material broken up by the process. It’s best to let this solution sit on the affected area after scrubbing for further disinfecting.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water to get started. Then spray or wipe the solution onto all affected areas, letting the mixture permeate the area and kill off the mold. Once complete don’t forget to wipe the area clean.

Bonus: Tea tree oil can be used as a black mold preventative measure. Apply to grout, faucets, and spouts to stop black mold before it starts.

TURNING TO EXPERT BLACK MOLD REMOVAL

Restoration experts are equipped to deal with all levels of a black mold infestation in residential and commercial buildings. Cleaning up mold damage is completed in four parts: analysis, containment, removal, and restoration.

When things get out of hand it’s time to turn to the experts. Keeping your family safe should be a top priority. If your natural remedies aren’t working and the mold is spreading, reach out to restoration experts for help.

Bathroom and Kitchen Tile and Grout Cleaning

bathroom and kitchen tile

Mold, microbials and mildew can build up in your home, causing damage to fixtures and potentially making inhabitants sick. As a homeowner, you should understand not only how to eliminate bacteria growth but also how to prevent it from developing at all. Proper cleaning and maintenance will keep bacteria growth to a minimum and mitigate any potential health effects from bacteria spores.

To prevent bacteria growth in your home, regularly clean your home, keep an eye on bacteria hotspots, or in severe cases, turn to a professional cleaning service.

WHY SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR BATHROOM AND KITCHEN TILE?

Besides creating an inviting aesthetic in your home, keeping bacteria at bay can eliminate side effects from coming into contact with bacteria and keep your appliances from deteriorating in value due to bacteria-induced damages.

Health Concerns from Harmful Bacteria

Health concerns are a leading reason to schedule in weekly cleaning maintenance and rid your home of harmful bacterias. Depending on the type of bacteria present in your home, which we breakdown in the following section, you may experience mild to severe side effects.

woman sneezing into tissue

Signs bacteria in your home could be causing you to get sick:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Sore throats
  • Persistent sinus infections
  • Pneumonia

Damage to Appliances and Fixtures

Items and fixtures with porous surfaces are likely to latch onto mold. The effects can be devastating. In some severe cases of bacteria in homes, items may need to be replaced to prevent further spread.

When deciding what to do in severe cases, consider whether it could be more expensive to replace the item or pay to have it professionally cleaned. For the average home, this is unlikely to be a concern, but in the case of water or flood damage cleaning measures will be more drastic.

Drop in Home Value

If you plan to sell your home in the near future you could encounter a roadblock between you and your asking price. Hint: its mold damage and bacteria presence.

If your tiles, grout, or other home fixtures have mold damage you might not be able to garner the price you were hoping for. Buyers will likely either ask you to repair it or to take the cost out of their closing fees.

Another great reason to keep your bacteria in check.

WHAT COMMON BACTERIA CAN BE FOUND IN HOMES

To prevent the occurrence of sickness in the home or working environment, cleanliness is a must. There are several known bacteria that can live on floor tile and grout. The most common bacteria you should be aware of are:

  • SERRATIA MARCESCENS usually found building up in bathrooms especially on tile grout, shower corners, toilet water line, and within the basin. It develops as a slimy film and feeds off phosphorus-containing materials or fatty substances like bath soap and shampoo residue.
  • STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS can cause food poisoning, and skin and bone infections.
  • BURKHOLDERIA CEPACIA is a human pathogen that takes advantage of moist conditions to further its spread. This bacteria is known to cause pneumonia in individuals with impaired immune system with underlying lung disease.
  • PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA can be found in food and soil. It can commonly be found in bathroom sinks and kitchens. It won’t kill you, but it’s side effects aren’t pleasant. Expect a mild illness along with pseudomonas aeruginosa presence.
  • STREPTOCOCCUS associated with strep throat most commonly. It can also result in toxic shock syndrome and flesh-eating bacteria infections known as necrotizing fasciitis, both potentially deadly diagnoses. This bacteria will live and grow in the tiles of your bathroom.
  • ENTEROCOCCUS FAECALIS occupies the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and other mammals once in contact with the body. Keep in mind, this hardy bacteria can survive alkaline cleaning.

WHERE DOES BACTERIA MOST COMMONLY GROW?

Bacteria will grow anywhere that is warm and moist. If you’re thinking of your bathroom, you’re on the right track.

Keep an eye on these bacteria hotspots to mitigate any rising growth:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry Rooms
  • Basements

The tiles in kitchens and bathrooms are especially permeable because it accumulates and holds stains from mold and mildew, dust, makeup stains, and dirty water. You may have already noticed this in your bathroom or even in the tiles of your kitchen.
It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria once moisture is added to the mix. Think, hot showers creating steam in your bathroom.

moldy wall beforemoldy wall before

HOW DO I CLEAN TILES AND GROUT?

You might have already noticed discoloration, a key indicator of bacteria growth in tiles and grout. Besides being aesthetically unappealing, the discoloration is likely caused by bacteria which can cause illness. The fact is, if not properly cleaned and maintained, grout behaves like a sponge that absorbs stains and specks of dirt. If this scenario is left unattended, the stains and dirt are confined below the surface and can be difficult to remove.

SCRUB WITH BAKING SODA SOLUTION

Using three parts baking soda and one part water create a paste. Apply the paste to all grout before spritzing it with vinegar. This will create a fizzing reaction as the baking soda and vinegar work together to breakdown grime and bacteria deep within the grout.

Avoid this option if you are cleaning limestone or marble. The vinegar can be too harsh for these materials.

USE A STEAM MOP ON TILES

Steam mops can effectively kill off 99.9% of bacteria making it an effective way to eliminate bacteria buildup in your home. Because steam mops don’t use any harsh chemicals, this option is an environmentally-friendly alternative.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

To maintain the condition and cleanliness of tile and grout, it’s best to clean it as often as necessary. There are proper ways of cleaning tile by doing it on your own but, if you don’t have time and patience to thoroughly clean tiles and grout, it’s best to leave it to the experts and have these restoration professionals do their job to clean all your tile and grout. If you haven’t done a thorough cleaning before and stains became permanent inhabitant in your tiles or the discoloration on grout is very visible, these expert professionals are well equipped on removing the stains and filth persisting below the surface and apply required sealants to avert future staining.
You can resort to your own home cleaning remedy by using any of the previously mentioned solutions. But for hard-to-clean stains, you should seek out the help of professional experts to save you time and be stress-free

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN TO AVOID BACTERIAL GROWTH?

Maybe you just noticed mold growth in your home or you’re just being cautious. Unfortunately keep your home free of bacteria is an ongoing effort. Maintenance cleaning of bacteria hotspots, such as your kitchen and bathroom, should be carried out on a weekly basis.

What is a Flood Zone?

A flood zone is any geographic region that FEMA considers to be at higher risk for floods than other areas. Many flood zones require special insurance for floods, so it’s important to know what kind of zone you may live in and whether or not you may need flood insurance.

Types of Risk Area

Flood zones are rated based on the severity and type of flood risk. What type of zone you live in may affect the flood insurance you need as well as what precautions you may need to take to protect your home.

FEMA measures flood zones based on their risk of 100-year or 500-year flood. A 100-year floodplain is an area that is predicted to have a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. Similarly, a 500-year flood is a flood that has a 1 in 500 chance of happening.

Low-Risk Areas

Low-risk areas are categorized by FEMA as C and X. These are areas that are considered to be above the level of risk for a 500-year flood. They’re also protected from 100-year floods by levees.

Moderate Risk Areas

Areas of moderate risk are between the 100-year and 500-year flood limits. They may be protected by levees from 100-year floods, but there may still be up to 1 foot of flooding in these areas.

High-Risk Areas

There are a variety of different types of high-risk areas according to FEMA’s classification. Any zone that contains the letter A (A, AE, A1-A30, AH, AO, AR, and A99) are considered high-risk flood zones. Most areas classified as a type of A zone had a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a thirty-year period of time.

Coastal Areas

FEMA classifies coastal flood zones with the letter designation V: V, VE, and V1-V30. These zones are coastal areas that are, similar to high-risk areas, at a 26% risk of a flood during a thirty-year time period.

Undetermined

FEMA classifies any “undetermined” areas as D zones. These are areas where no analysis of the flood risk has been carried out, so FEMA cannot make an informed assessment of the risk.

Flooding outside house

Where Are Flood Zones Usually Located?

Flood zones can be almost anywhere, but the primary flood zones are areas that have lower elevation and coastal areas. Many high-risk zones are located near a body of water, such as a river or lake. More than 20,000 communities across the United State have been classified as being in a type of flood zone.

How do I know if I’m in a flood zone?

The Internet has a lot of resources that can help you determine whether or not you live in a flood zone. There are online maps, such as floodtools.com, where you can enter your address and the map will tell you not only the flood risk for your area but also the elevation and the amount of the average flood insurance payout for people living in that area. FEMA also has a flood map to help you determine what kind of area you live in.

Do I Have to Have Flood Insurance?

Anyone living in a flood zone marked as A or V must have flood insurance. Standard insurance policies in these areas generally don’t cover floors, so extra flood insurance is required. Even if FEMA classifies your area as a low-to-moderate risk area, local insurance companies may still require separate flood insurance.

If a flood damages your home, you must have flood insurance in order to be eligible for federal disaster aid.

What Is Considered a Flood?

The definition of a flood, according to FEMA, is “the partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land or 2 or of more properties.”

Another type of flood occurs when erosion causes the land to collapse and water to exceed its normal levels for 2 properties or 2 acres.

Storm waves from the ocean

What Can Cause Floods?

Floods are caused by any large influx of water from any source because of either natural or human causes. Floods happen when water levels rise for any reason, but in areas where this is expected, there are dams and levees to prevent the water from reaching inhabited areas. If these protections are poorly designed, the flooding can be much worse.

Heavy Rain and Overflow

Heavy rain can accumulate in low-lying areas and can also cause bodies of water such as rivers and lakes to overflow.

Hurricanes and Storm Surges

In hurricane-prone coastal areas, floods are often caused by both the heavy rain of the storm itself but also from storm surges as the high winds push the ocean further inland than normal.

What Can I Do to Protect My Home from Floods?

If you live in an area that is at higher risk for floods, it’s important to make sure that your home is protected. There may be local restrictions on how high above the base flood elevation your home needs to be, so it’s important to make sure that you’re familiar with local requirements and that your home is up to code.

Keep All Electrical Systems Above Flood Level

Make sure that anything electrical is above the possible flood level. Any outlets and switches in your home should be high enough that flood waters won’t reach them and get into your electrical system.

Elevate All Outdoor Equipment

Any home system that has an outdoor component, such as a fuel tank or an air conditioner, should be elevated, anchored to a high place. Indoor equipment should also be above the potential flood level.

Install a Backflow Valve

If the sewer system in your area floods, there’s a possibility that sewage could back up into your home. A backflow valve, either inside or outside your house, can help prevent that from happening.

Install a Sump Pump

A sump pump can help drain any water that has managed to accumulate in your home. They’re usually installed in the basement, as it’s the lowest-lying part of the house and the most liable to flood.

Direct Water away from Your Home

The land around your home can be graded to direct water away from your house. During a rainstorm, watch how the water flows around your home to see where the water flows. If it flows towards your house, you can consider landscaping changes that would direct the water away instead.

Raise the Level of Your Home

If you live in a flood zone that has a high risk of high floods, you may want to consider raising the level of your home. This is a drastic step, but can protect your home from extreme floods. Many homes in known flood areas may already be built on stilts or supports so that the lowest level of the house above the highest flood level.

What Can I Do if There’s a Flood?

If a flood is imminent, there are some steps that you can take to help minimize the damage to your home and belongings.

Stock Up on Emergency Supplies

First, stock up on emergency supplies. If there is a flood in your area, stores may be closed and roads impassable. It’s also a good idea to stock up on food and water.

Flooding inside house

Move Belongings

Any important belongings should be moved to higher ground. Transport as many belongings as possible to higher floors to protect them.

Evacuate

Depending on the severity of the flood, you may be asked to evacuate. Pay attention to government warnings and alerts and follow any official instructions as quickly as possible. You don’t want to get stranded after an evacuation order has been issued.

What kind of fire extinguisher should I have at home?

Keeping a fire extinguisher at home can save lives and prevent a small fire from spreading into a large one. There are different sizes and different types of fire extinguisher, so it’s important to know exactly what kind you need and how many of what size in order to best protect your home.

Fire Extinguisher Classifications

Home fire extinguishers come in three different types – A, B, or C. Each type is effective against different types of fires. In addition to the letter, there’s also a number classification. The higher the number, the more effective that particular fire extinguisher is against that type of fire. Fire extinguishers can be effective against more than one type of fire. It’s important to check the numerical rating next to each number to see how effective it is for each type of fire.

The C classification doesn’t have a number rating to go with it. A C label on a fire extinguisher indicates that it isn’t conducive to electricity.

A

Fire extinguishers that are labeled A are designed for fires caused by normal burnable items such as wood or paper.

B

Fire extinguishers labeled B are effective against fires caused by liquids. These include cooking oil or gas.

C

Fire extinguishers with a C label are meant for use against fires caused by live electricity. The chemicals inside the fire extinguisher will not conduct electricity. This allows them to suppress the fire instead of spreading it.

D

Class D fire extinguishers are for use on combustible metals. These include sodium, magnesium, titanium, and more.

K

Class K fire extinguishers are for use in the kitchen on fires caused by grease and other cooking materials. These are more commonly used in larger, commercial kitchens, however.

Five different classifications of fire extinguishers

Graphic created by https://normacomm.com

Fire Extinguisher Sizes

There are four standard sizes of fire extinguisher for the home: stove-top, 2-pound, 5-pound, and 10-pound. Each size is best suited to a different part of the house.

Stove-Top

Stove-top sizes can be mounted over the stove, although they should not be used with deep fryers – the can cause the fire to spread by splattering grease.

2-Pound

2-Pound models are small and more portable and so are suited for use in your car. Some come with hardware so you can mount it to stop it from moving around as the car moves.

5-Pound

This is the best size for within the house, such as in the kitchen or laundry room.

10-Pound

The largest of the standard sizes, the 10-pound fire extinguisher is best used in a location such as a garage, basement, or a storage area, where a fire may not be noticed as quickly. The larger size can compensate for how big a fire might grow before it’s noticed in the lesser-used areas of the house.

Different fire extinguisher sizes

Why Should I Have a Fire Extinguisher at Home?

Having a fire extinguisher in your home can be an essential part of home safety, just like having a smoke detector. Provided you know how to use the fire extinguisher, you can prevent a fire from spreading or causing more damage than it already has.

Preserving your home and property is important, but not as important as the lives of the people (and any pets) that live there. Before you attempt to douse a fire with a fire extinguisher, first make sure that the fire department has been called and that all people (and pets) are out of the house. Also, make sure that you always have an escape route so that you can leave the house safely should your attempt to put out the fire be unsuccessful.

Where Should I Keep a Fire Extinguisher?

It’s recommended to have several fire extinguishers kept in your house, at least one on each floor. It’s best to keep them where they will be within easy reach in the event of a fire. It’s most important to have fire extinguishers in areas that are more prone to fire, such as the kitchen or laundry room.

Kitchen

You’ll need a class B or K (depending on your cooking habits) to put out a fire caused by grease or cooking oil. It’s recommended that the fire extinguisher is stored at least 30 feet away from the stove. If it’s kept too close to the stove, you won’t be able to reach it through the fire in order to put the flames out.

Many people keep their fire extinguisher by the kitchen door, or even in a separate room in homes that have small kitchens.

Garage

The garage is filled with many different kinds of flammable materials, including paint, gasoline, and even some tools. This is also a location where a fire may not be noticed for some time, so a larger fire extinguisher may be necessary. The safest location to store the fire extinguisher is near the door so it’s within easy reach from inside the house.

Laundry Room

Because of lint traps and exhaust tubes on the dryer, laundry rooms are also a common source of fires. You can prevent fires here by making sure to clean the lint trap every time you do laundry and by clearing out the exhaust tubes at least once every six months. It’s still best to keep a fire extinguisher nearby as well.

Bedroom

It’s recommended to have a fire extinguisher in each bedroom. Most home fires occur at night and having a fire extinguisher handy to where you were sleeping can prevent the fire’s spread as well as save lives. A centrally-located fire extinguisher wouldn’t be easy to reach from the bedroom, especially if the fire were in or near the bedroom.

Outside

If you have a grill or a fire pit in your back yard or on a patio, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Both are potential fire hazards, so keeping a fire extinguisher near the back door or in another spot that’s easy to reach.

Car

A small, 2-pound fire extinguisher can be mounted in the trunk of the car.

How Many Fire Extinguishers Should I Have?

You should have, at minimum, one fire extinguisher per floor. If you do have only one, it should be in a centrally located area, mounted off the ground and in an easy-to-see place so that in the event of a fire, no one wastes time searching for it.

However, it’s recommended that you have a fire extinguisher handy for any location that’s a potential fire hazard. This includes near chimneys, fireplaces, a furnace, the stove, the dryer, or other potentially risky areas.

Fire Extinguishers per Square Foot

Fire departments recommend that there are fire extinguishers with a rating of at least 13A total for every approximately 2,000 square feet. Since home fire extinguishers tend to be smaller, this means more fire extinguishers per square foot than in a commercial establishment.

How many fire extinguishers you need per room varies based on the layout of your house and how many rooms you have. It’s important to cover all of the areas where a fire is most likely to start as well as all bedrooms.

Different fire extinguisher sizes

How Do I Use a Fire Extinguisher?

When you purchase a fire extinguisher, first read the manual that comes with it so you understand how to properly use it. Most fire extinguishers will also come labeled with instructions for easy use during a fire.

Waiting until there’s a fire to use a fire extinguisher for the first time isn’t a good idea. You may want to practice using a fire extinguisher so you’re prepared for how it feels and sounds when you use it.

To use a fire extinguisher, pull out the pin and then aim it at the fire’s base, not at the flames. Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side until the fire is out. Carefully watch the area to make sure that it doesn’t reignite.

How Do I Know What Type of Fire Extinguisher to Use?

Fire extinguishers that you keep in your home should be multipurpose. Homes are at risk for multiple types of fires, so unless you know that a certain area should only have one type of fire, then it’s not a good idea to have several different classes of fire extinguishers. In an emergency, it’s better to have one that can be used for everything so that you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out which one to use.

How Often Do I Need to Replace a Fire Extinguisher?

Most fire extinguishers can last up to 15 years before needing to be replaced. It’s important to check the pressure gauge regularly. If the gauge is in the green, then the pressure on the fire extinguisher is still good.

If you have recently used your fire extinguisher, then you may need to get it refilled or have it replaced.

How Should I Store a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers should be stored in an easily visible and easily accessible location. Fire extinguishers are designed to work from a wide temperature range (-60 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit), so the primary consideration is where the fire extinguishers will be the most useful in an emergency.

Where Can I Buy a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers can be purchased at most home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, but other big box stores such as Walmart carry them, too. You can also purchase a variety of fire extinguishers online at online retailers such as Amazon.

How Do I Prevent Mold After Water Damage?

What Is the Best Method to Clean up Water Damage?

No matter how minor your water damage may be, it’s important to clean up properly after any amount of water gets inside your house. This will help you prevent any potential mold. The best steps to take to clean up water are the following:

  1. Unplug all electronics near the water
  2. Move everything you can to a dry place
    • Electronics
    • Furniture
    • Movable possessions
  3. Clean up the water with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner
    • If you don’t have one, you can rent one from a hardware store or hire professionals who have one
  4. Make sure the flooded area is completely dry
    • Use fans and a dehumidifier
    • Open windows if it’s not raining
  5. Disinfect the flooded area to get rid of any bacteria
  6. Prevent mold with a mold preventative product
  7. Dispose of any possessions that weren’t salvageable

What Products Prevent Mold?

While there are some specialized mold preventatives that you can purchase online or at a home improvement store, there are several DIY options. Many of these may actually already be in your house and can prevent mold just as well as a dedicated produce. They don’t just prevent mold but can also get rid of mold that’s already there.

Hydrogen peroxide: Put 3% concentrated hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle, spray the moldy area completely. After ten minutes, scrub the area thoroughly.

Baking soda: Mix a quarter of a tablespoon to a tablespoon of baking soda into a spray bottle of water. Make sure the baking soda has fully dissolved and then spray the moldy area. Scrub the mold away with a brush and then rinse with water.

Vinegar: Put white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it onto the moldy area. After an hour, wipe with water to clean the vinegar and residual mold from the area. Let the area dry and within a few hours the vinegar smell will fade.

Do I Need to Hire a Professional?

If the water damage is extensive and severe (for example, if your entire basement has flooded) or if you don’t have the equipment to properly clean up the water yourself, you may want to hire a professional to do it for you. A professional will be able to bring the equipment with them for the cleanup. There may also be a better guarantee that the cleanup was done properly to prevent mold. If you have questions about whether you need professional help, don’t hesitate to call us at (407) 295-5440.

What Does it Cost to Clean up Water Damage?

The cost of cleaning up water damage depends on the size of the flooded area and the severity of the damage. Hiring a professional to do the cleanup can sometimes cost between $2,700 and $7,500, depending on the size of the flooded area and the extent and severity of the damage. Fortunately, your insurance company can usually help cover these costs.

You may be able to save some money by doing the cleanup yourself, but renting a wet/dry vacuum could still run into the hundreds of dollars depending on how long you needed it, where you rented it from, and the size of the vacuum. Cleaning up the water yourself may cost more in the long run if it’s not done properly, as you could be paying more for mold and other damage.

What Causes Mold?

Mold in a house is caused by humidity and dampness. Mold can grow inside if the weather has been rainy or humid for many days in a row and may not need a flood or water damage to occur.

What Conditions Does Mold Grow in?

Floods and water damage provide optimal conditions for mold to grow because not only is the affected area damp and humid, but water can evaporate into the air, raising the overall humidity of the house, allowing mold to grow in other areas of the house as well.

How Quickly Can Mold Grow?

If the conditions are ideal for mold (humid and damp), it can grow as quickly as 24 to 48 hours.

What Are the Warning Signs of Mold?

If you’ve had water damage in your house, pay attention to the following signs to keep an eye out for mold growth:

  • Allergy symptoms
  • Musty odor
  • Dampness and humidity
  • Black spots
  • Discolored walls
  • Water stains

Learn more from our article on how to detect if there is mold in your home.

How Can I Prevent Moisture and Mold?

The best way to prevent mold from growing in your home is to prevent the conditions under which it grows from occurring. This means keeping the humidity and dampness levels in your home low. If you’ve recently had a flood or other water damage, ensure that it’s properly cleaned up and dried. Pay attention to any areas in your home that naturally have more moisture, like the attic or basement, and take steps to prevent moisture in those areas. These steps may include proper ventilation and mold-prevention products.

How Do I Prevent Mold in My Basement?

The basement is a prime location for mold and is also the usual location of water damage if your house has flooded. Prevent mold in your basement with the following:

  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Monitor humidity levels
    • Humidity monitors are available at drugstores
    • Ideal humidity is 25-40 percent in winter and less than 60 percent in summer
  • Don’t keep wood or plants in the basement
  • Keep the basement clutter-free
  • Don’t dry wet clothes in the basement
  • Make sure water is directed away from your house
    • If the ground around your home slopes down towards your house, water can drain into your basement or crawlspace. Add dirt to create a slope away from your house.
    • Gutters and downspouts should also direct water away from your house
  • Clean any floods, leaks, or spills immediately
  • Use insulated pipes

How Do I Prevent Mold in My Attic?

The attic can also provide the ideal conditions for mold growth and it can be harder to detect mold there if no one regularly goes into it. To prevent mold from growing in your attic, do the following:

  • Make sure the attic has adequate ventilation
    • If it’s not well-ventilated, you may be able to see frost and dampness inside the attic and ice dams on the eaves outside in winter.
    • Attic vents out onto the roof, gables, or eaves can ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Don’t have kitchen or bathroom vents going into the attic
  • Make sure the attic is properly insulated
  • Address any roof leaks immediately
  • Don’t install furnaces or water heaters in the attic
  • Make sure skylights are installed properly

What are next steps?

If you notice any signs of mold in your home, it’s very important to take action as soon as possible. This will help avoid any health issues for you and your family and any property damage for your home.

Contact our mold experts now at 855-352-2281.

How to detect if there is mold in your home

Mold is a dangerous and scary thing to find in your home, but it’s even more frightening to know that it’s so hard to detect. Read below to find out more about mold and how you can determine if your home has been contaminated by it.

What does mold look like?

Mold typically manifests in your home as a dark, wet spot on your ceiling or wall. It can be gathered in one area, splotchy, or even create a dripping pattern. If you see anything that appears to be mold in your home, it’s very important to get it professionally checked out right away to avoid any potential health issues for you and your family.

Signs of mold example

What does mold smell like?

The smell of mold is definitely unpleasant, and smells like something moist is in the room. It can often be compared to the smell of wet clothing or rotting wood. If you smell an earthy, moist smell in your home it could potentially be mold.

If you believe it to be in a specific wall, smell around an outlet port to try to determine if the smell is stronger. The outlet provides a clearer pathway into the wall, so it should smell worse if you’re in the right area of the home.

Keep in mind that you may have gotten used to the smell of your home, including the mold. Have a family member or friend visit and ask if they smell anything unpleasant in your home, telling them that you’re concerned about mold so that they’ll be honest and forthright about it.

Where is mold most likely to be found?

Mold can typically be found in areas of your home that are dark and moist. Examples of this are:

  • Basement
  • Utility room
  • Under sinks
  • Closets
  • Windows (from condensation)
  • Shower curtains
  • Ceiling corners
  • Air ducts & vents
  • Places recently damaged by water

How mold can affect your health

Mold has serious, negative effects on human health, so it’s vitally important to find it and get rid of it as soon as possible. This is especially the case if those living in your home are children, seniors, pregnant, or have serious pre-existing health concerns that may lead to a higher vulnerability to mold.

Health Symptoms of Living in a Home with Mold

The symptoms of living in a mold-infested home can often go overlooked because of how common they are. They’re similar to those that you’ve experienced with a common cold.

  • Chest and nasal congestion
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Watering, dry, or sore eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches

NOTICE: If you’ve started exhibiting any of these symptoms, and you have reason to believe that it’s related to mold, reach out to our experts right away. The symptoms get significantly worse and more serious if the mold isn’t addressed as soon as possible.

CLICK TO CONTACT OUR MOLD EXPERTS

The Different Types of Mold

The most common harmful molds that you may find in your home are:

  • Stachybotrys Chartarum (Black Mold)
  • Chaetomium
  • Serpula Lacrymans
  • Trichoderma
  • Fusarium
  • Ulocladium
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Alternaria
  • Penicillium
  • Aureobasidium

Types of mold

Testing for mold

If you suspect you might have mold in your home, you need to test for it right away to keep you and your family safe. You can either try to do it yourself or have a professional do it.

DIY Tests for mold

The DIY mold test kits are less expensive but at the cost of less reliability and having to be able to see the signs yourself. You can test for mold by yourself using:

  • In-home testing kits
  • Borescope
    • To use a borescope, drill a hole into your wall, push the fiber optic cord through, and view the monitor to look for any signs of mold (typically discoloration)

Mold testing kits

Professional Testing for Mold

If you have reason to believe that you have mold in your home, we highly recommend reaching out to a professional to inspect your house. The health issues and property damage that mold can create can damage your health and that of your family members or pets. Contact our mold experts to set up your mold inspection.

What should I do if I have mold?

While we strongly recommend contacting an expert if you have mold, you can try to clean it out yourself if it hasn’t gotten too bad.

To clear a minor mold infestation on your own:

  • Scrub all hard surfaces
  • Fix all leaks
  • Seal small opening
  • Clean air ducts
  • Dispose of surfaces that absorb moisture

To have a professional take care of your mold for you:

  • Call a restoration company like Florida Catastrophe
  • How does a professional contain the mold?
  • How does a professional remove the mold?
  • How does a professional restore the affected area?
  • How will I know if the mold is completely gone?

    While you can try to get rid of the mold on your own, you won’t be able to be certain about whether it’s all gone unless you get it certified by an independent industrial hygienist.

    What are the risks if mold goes untreated?

    In extreme cases of untreated mold, symptoms can be devastating:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Bleeding gums
    • Nose bleeds
    • Vomiting
    • Blurred vision
    • Nausea
    • In extremely severe cases, growth of cancers

    What are next steps?

    If you notice any signs of mold in your home, it’s very important to take action as soon as possible. This will help avoid any health issues for you and your family and any property damage for your home.

    Contact our mold experts now at 855-352-2281.

    Insurance for Hurricane Preparedness

    Restore business after hurricane

    When hurricane season approaches, it’s not a question of whether there will be damage to your home, but rather a question of what kind and how much. A vital part of ensuring you are prepared for hurricane season is knowing exactly what your homeowners insurance policy will cover as a result of damage from a hurricane. Some policies exclude certain types of damage, possibly including flood damage. That’s why it’s essential to know you have the insurance coverage you need for your home before you’re dealing with the stress of making a claim and planning repairs.

    Types of Hurricane Damage

    Depending on its strength, hurricane damage can be anything from inconvenient to catastrophic. Some examples of hurricane damage are:

    • Flooding
    • Black mold requiring drywall replacement
    • Roof leakage requiring roof replacement
    • Wind damage
    • Loss of trees and other plants and shrubbery
    • Broken windows
    • Uprooting exterior enclosures such as sheds, porches, pool screens, etc.
    • Damaged concrete
    • Damaged or destroyed fences
    • Damage to cars and boats
    • Damage to pool and pool equipment
    • Damaged solar panels
    • Solar panels damaged
    • Storm debris
    • Damage to personal property
    • Personal liability
    • Personal injury
    • In the worst cases, complete loss of home

    What Should Your Insurance Cover?

    Ideally, your homeowners insurance policy should be based not on your home’s market value but instead on the total cost of completely rebuilding it should the worst happen. You should also have coverage for any living expenses if your home is rendered unlivable, replacing any personal property that is lost or destroyed, as well as personal liability because some insurance policies exclude certain types of natural disasters such as floods, you will also need to make sure that this is covered.

    FEMA

    If FEMA has declared a state of emergency, some coverage may be available from FEMA. The Individuals and Households Program provides funding for rent (in cases where homes are unlivable) as well as some home repairs. FEMA also works with the National Flood Insurance Program (a subsidiary of FEMA) and the Small Business Administration for additional funding and some low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses. FEMA funds are targeted towards the hardest hit and lowest income areas, however. If your home is not in one of these areas, federal funding may not be available.

    Neighborhood Association Insurance

    Some areas of your property, such as the driveway, the sidewalk, and the curb strip of your lawn, may be considered common areas. If this is the case, the insurance policy of your Homeowners’ Association may cover repair. Some trees and plants in those areas may also be considered communal. You should determine with your neighborhood HOA what is considered your responsibility and what will be theirs.

    Learning the Insurance Language

    One reason many people are under-informed about the contents of their insurance policies is that they are often complex and written in legalese. Important words to know pertaining to hurricane preparedness are:

    • Act of God: a natural disaster not caused by humans, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes
    • All Risks Coverage: a policy that covers anything not specifically excluded (this type of policy is usually more expensive)
    • Contents Coverage: the coverage for your possessions and property (an inventory of your belongings can make filing a claim easier)
    • Declarations Page: the summary page of your policy (usually the first page) that includes what is covered by your policy
    • Dwelling Coverage: the coverage for damage your home
    • Exclusions: anything not covered by your insurance policy (common exclusions are risks for your area – for example, floods in a hurricane-prone region)
    • Flood Insurance: supplemental insurance that covers floods (most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage)
    • Insurance to Value: the value of your home compared to the actual dollar amount covered by your policy (an 80% minimum is often required by insurance companies)
    • Loss of Use Coverage: the coverage for living expenses incurred if your home is unlivable
    • Personal Liability Protection Coverage: the coverage for if you’re considered responsible for injuring someone else or damaging someone else’s property
    • Replacement Value: the cost of completely replacing your home

    Deciphering Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

    It’s important to understand exactly what your homeowners insurance policy covers before any damage occurs. Many people do not know exactly what their policy covers ahead of time and only know that something isn’t covered when the claim is denied. By then it is too late to change policies or add supplementary insurance coverage.

    Types of Policies

    There are eight basic types of homeowners insurance policies. The most common policy type for homeowners is HO-3 because it offers a wider range of coverage and will cover any type of damage or peril that isn’t specifically excluded. Floods are commonly included in the list of exclusions for this type of policy.

    • HO-1: This is the most basic policy and covers only 10 specifically listed perils. This type of policy has been discontinued in many states.
    • HO-2: This policy type covers 16 specifically listed perils, but nothing outside of that list.
    • HO-3: This type of policy covers anything that isn’t specifically excluded. If this is your policy type, make sure to check the list of exclusions for your policy.
    • HO-4: This is renters’ insurance and is similar to HO-2 in that is covers only specific perils, but it does often cover living expenses if the apartment is temporarily unlivable.
    • HO-5: This is a more comprehensive version of HO-3 and covers anything not specifically excluded. It has fewer exclusions than HO-3.
    • HO-6: This is a policy for condos.
    • HO-7: This is a policy for mobile homes.
    • HO-8: This policy is for older homes, historic homes, and national landmarks. It’s similar to an HO-3, but is tailored to the specific needs of an older home.

    Types of Coverage

    There are two major sections of any homeowners insurance policy: property and liability. Within these two sections, coverage is divided into categories.

    • Coverage A: This is the coverage for your home and any structures attached to it, such as a garage.
    • Coverage B: This covers any additional structures on your property, including sheds, pools, and detached garages.
    • Coverage C: This is the personal property coverage, which includes all of your belongings and isn’t limited to only property currently within your home.
    • Coverage D: This is the coverage for loss of use of your home, including living expenses such as rent.
      Coverage E: This coverage is for personal liability, such as if you are found responsible for injury to someone else or damage to someone else’s property.
    • Coverage F: This is coverage for medical payments for others when you aren’t necessarily at fault but the other person isn’t covered by insurance.

    Reading Your Policy

    The first step to understanding your homeowners insurance policy is to read the declarations page. This page will provide a summary of your policy as well as any limits and premiums you may have. The next section to read is the Insurance Agreement, which will provide more details about your policy. The third section, the Conditions of the Policy, will provide information on your responsibilities.

    Hurricane Preparedness and Homeowners Insurance

    Once you understand your current homeowners insurance policy, the next step is to ensure that the policy will meet your needs in the event of a hurricane. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you need separate flood insurance? Will your policy cover the full value of home replacement? Will the full value of replacing your personal property be covered?

    Updating Your Policy

    Keeping your homeowners insurance policy up-to-date is as important as knowing what is covered. If you have made renovations or any other significant changes to your home, the cost of a complete replacement will be higher. The same applies if home values in your neighborhood have changed or contracts costs increased. If you have made any large purchases that would fall under personal property, make sure you aren’t underinsured for the cost of replacement.

    Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    When you file a claim with your insurance company, there will be some out-of-pocket expenses, such as the deductible and any living expenses that are not covered by your policy. It is important to ensure that your deductible is something that is affordable for you. Keep in mind that a hurricane may damage your home to the point that it is unlivable, making “loss-of-use coverage”, or insurance for living expenses such as rent, should also be included in your policy.

    Personal Liability Insurance

    Personal liability insurance is also a must for hurricane preparedness. Some damage to neighboring houses could be claimed on your insurance and personal liability insurance is what would cover this damage. For example, if a tree from your yard fell onto your neighbor’s roof, this could be claimed against your liability insurance.

    Supplemental Insurance

    Depending on where you live, some damage caused by a hurricane may not be covered. Floods are commonly excluded from typical homeowners insurance policies. If floods are not covered, you may be able to add flood insurance as a supplemental insurance policy so that you will be fully covered.

    Flood Insurance

    Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Additional insurance may be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is part of FEMA. Some homeowners policies do cover some water damage, but damage from a hurricane may not qualify, depending on its severity and where you live. Storm surges can cause flooding that can reach inland in Florida, so flood insurance could make the difference between insurance coverage for damage and having to pay out-of-pocket. In some areas, flood insurance may be required.

    Florida Home Restoration

    If your home has been damaged in a hurricane, the first step is to assess the damage so that you can make the most accurate possible claim. Photograph everything as proof of the damage before attempting to do any cleanup or make any repairs. Once you have fully assessed the damage to your home and document it, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to file a claim.

    Filing a Claim

    You should be able to file a claim either over the phone or online or, depending on your insurance company, via a mobile app. Make sure that you have your policy number and description of the damage ready when you contact your agent to make initiating the claim easier. Once the claim has been made, make sure you write down your claim number so that your file can be accessed more quickly when you contact your insurance company later. It is important to file the claim as soon as possible in order to minimize the risk of having the claim denied.

    Assessing Hurricane Damage

    After your claim has been processed, your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to your property to assess the extent of the damage and how much coverage or reimbursement you will receive from your insurance policy. Like FEMA, insurance companies may be trying to deal with the worst-hit areas first, so there may be a wait depending on the extent of the damage to your home. It is important to keep track of all spending, including receipts for hotels and any repairs that couldn’t wait.

    Help with Hurricane Damage

    For damage that is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy, many banks and other companies may provide low-interest loans as a form of disaster relief. Some of these may include no fees for late payments and other perks to assist in rebuilding. For example, the Small Business Association has a Disaster Loan Assistance program that homeowners can apply for.

    Hurricane Cleanup

    After a hurricane, cleanup of the storm debris is a major undertaking. Some cities may provide some of the cleanup services, so it’s important to find out what you will be responsible for. For example, some locations will provide debris pickup, but you’re responsible for the cleanup of your own yard and placing the debris at the pickup location.

    Home Restoration, Rebuilding, and Repair

    There are many contractors in Florida that will provide restoration, rebuilding, and repair services in the aftermath of a hurricane. Look for local companies that have reputations for timely and quality service. Sometimes your insurance company will handle contracting out the repair work, so check whether or not you are responsible for handling this yourself. If you are responsible for it, keep track of all payments for your insurance claim.

    Restoring Your Business After a Hurricane

    Restore business after hurricane

    In addition to the potentially catastrophic damage wreaked by a hurricane, businesses face an additional peril: loss of business. A hurricane can keep businesses closed for weeks during the cleanup and repair process. Even in the event of mild damage, there may be no power for extended periods of time. What can you do to ensure that your business can reopen as soon as possible?

    Can Your Business Survive a Hurricane?

    One advantage to living in a hurricane-prone area like Florida is that hurricanes are expected, they come around the same time every year, and can be tracked, unlike other types of disasters, which may be complete surprises. It’s easier to have a plan for a hurricane and to prepare for its arrival. For businesses, this includes having a business plan for financial losses not only from the cost of repair but also from being closed during the hurricane and its aftermath.

    Calculate potential lost revenues and an estimated cost for repair in the worst case scenario to determine what you would need to survive the worst. Then, determine alternate strategies that will allow your business to survive during the recovery period after a hurricane. All businesses in the area will suffer losses during that time and some may close, but you can increase your chances of reopening quickly afterward by having a solid plan.

    Have a Recovery Plan

    In addition to having a business plan to deal with any revenue losses incurred during a hurricane, it’s equally important to have a recovery plan. Knowing exactly what to do after a hurricane hits can mitigate potential losses and help you reopen your business sooner.

    File an Insurance Claim

    As with any property damage, the first step after a hurricane is to determine the extent of the damage and file a claim with your insurance company. Document all damage and property loss and take photographs and video as proof of the damage. This will make filing the claim easier and decrease the chances that your claim is denied.

    Assess the Damage

    The insurance company will assess the damage and the total amount that they will cover for replacement and repair. It is helpful to have an inventory of all property at the commercial location done before the hurricane so that the extent of property losses can more easily be determined. Also, it’s best to not attempt any repairs or cleanup until after the insurance company has processed the claim and assessed the damage. For any repairs that were essential to complete immediately, record any spending and keep any receipts. Contractors can also provide a damage assessment in order to prevent further immediate damage to the property.

    Florida Commercial Restoration

    Once the insurance claim has been filed, determine with your insurance company if you are responsible for hiring contractors, as some insurance companies may have contractors they will hire on your behalf as part of your claim. Also, determine what may be provided by the city or state government. Some locations provide free debris removal, for example.

    Restoration Services

    Whether your insurance company covers all of the damage to your commercial property or not, it’s important not to attempt any repairs yourself unless you are licensed for that kind of repair. The damage from a hurricane is likely to be far worse than what’s normally possible to fix oneself and any attempted self-repair can cause further damage that would then not be covered by your insurance company. Contractors are available in Florida for every type of hurricane recovery service imaginable. Some companies offer multiple types of services while others specialize. These services can include:

    • Storm debris cleanup
    • Flood water removal
    • Drying of carpet, furniture, drywall, etc.
    • Water damage restoration
    • Mold remediation
    • Tree removal
    • Roof repairs
    • Temporary electric power
    • Tarp and board services

    Finding a Contractor

    Some insurance companies may have contractors they already have relationships with that they can either recommend or can hire on your behalf, depending on your policy. These contractors must meet the insurance company’s qualifications for an approved contractor and will often be contractors that the companies have experience working with for repair and restoration. Even if your insurance company has a recommended contractor, you are not required to use that contractor, so it’s still recommended to research different contractors to ensure that you hire the best possible contractor for your needs.

    Your hurricane recovery plan can include contractors that you know meet the necessary qualifications for the type of repair or restoration that you need. Knowing ahead of time who to call for damage assessment and repair can speed up the recovery process once the damage has occurred. Researching contractors ahead of time will also give you the time to do a thorough investigation of the following:

    • How long the contractor has been in business
    • Qualifications and licenses
    • Reviews
    • References
    • Quotes and estimates

    Loans and Financial Services

    Insurance companies generally pay contractors directly or provide you with the funds to pay them rather than reimbursing you after the fact. Despite this, there may still there may still be some out-of-pocket expenses, depending on the size of your insurance deductible. For situations like this, the Small Business Association provides Disaster Loan Assistance in the form of long-term, low-interest loans for all sizes of businesses. There are other companies, banks, and financial institutions both locally and nationally that may also provide financial assistance.

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