In the aftermath of a hurricane, one of the main dangers for homeowners is mold. Mold flourishes in a humid environment, so your house doesn’t even need to have extensive water damage for mold to grow. Just a few weeks of damp, sticky weather can be enough to allow mold to start creeping along your walls. If you want to avoid an unpleasant mold infestation, follow these eight steps.
1. Start Dehumidifying as Soon as Possible
When it comes to hurricane damage, every hour counts. The faster you can dry your home, the less likely you are to have mold. The most effective way to dry your home is to work with a dehumidification company that can run industrial-strength fans and dehumidifiers throughout your house. However, following a hurricane, it can take a little time to schedule an appointment with these professionals.
Until you can get a professional to help you eliminate mold growth, try to minimize the damage by running your air conditioner nonstop and turning on all fans in the home. Don’t forget to harness the power of nature! When it is breezy and sunny, open your windows to let your home dry out naturally. For best results, monitor exterior humidity levels and close up your home if it’s damp outside.
2. Keep Further Water Out of the House
Hurricanes typically cause mold growth through either flooding or leaks. No matter how water got into your home during the storm, you need to take steps to keep it out in the future. The last thing you want is for a surprise rainstorm to dampen your home again right after you cleaned things up! If your roof is damaged, secure a waterproof tarp over it until you can schedule a repair. You can also use tarps to keep water away from leaky windows or broken doors.
3. Remove and Assess All Damp Textiles
When parts of your home are constantly wet, mold can grow in as little as three days. While you are drying out your home, remove any textiles that have been damp for more than 48 hours. These items most likely have mold spores somewhere in them. You’ll need to examine them closely and determine whether or not you want to clean and keep them.
Damp textiles cause problems in two ways. First, they can hold moisture for a surprisingly long time, making your house more humid. Second, the mold inside of them can eventually spread through the rest of your home. Therefore, it’s essential to remove them from your house while you are cleaning up hurricane damage. Depending on the item, it may be possible to thoroughly clean and dry it. For example, clothing might just need to be washed on an extra-hot cycle in a laundry machine. However, other items like carpet padding, soggy mattresses, and soaked sofas will need to be discarded and replaced.
4. Take Wet Insulation Out of the House
If the insulation in your attic is wet, remove it and throw it away. This insulation typically cannot be reused, and it can contribute to increased humidity and mold growth. Even if your walls seem to be dry, there is a chance that the insulation inside is damp. This insulation can sit silently inside your walls, slowly warping wood and encouraging mold, while the rest of your home appears dry.
Usually, mold remediation experts will recommend going ahead and throwing away any wet insulation in the walls. However, finding wet insulation on your own is tricky. Since a wall might seem dry to the touch, it’s easy to overlook problem areas. This is why you’ll need a mold mitigation specialist. They have tools that can scan your home and locate areas with compromised insulation.
5. Look For Any Mold Growth in the House
In times of high humidity, a small amount of mold growth somewhere in your home is often inevitable. As a homeowner, your goal is to find and remove this mold before a small problem becomes a significant, costly issue. However, this can be surprisingly problematic. Mold often flourishes in unexpected places. To find it, start by walking around your house and trying to see if you notice any musty smells. Look for any black, green, gray, brown, or pink patches on surfaces. Mold often appears in unusual spots, like inside cabinets, behind furniture, and on ceilings, so be sure to be thorough in your search.
6. Thoroughly Clean All Non-Porous Surfaces
If you’re concerned about mold, you must sanitize your home thoroughly after you clean up from a hurricane. On hard surfaces like glass, wood, and metal, a proper disinfectant will kill any lingering mold spores to keep them from spreading. Remember that breathing mold spores can be dangerous, so always wear gloves and a mask while cleaning any visible mold.
The most popular method for cleaning mold is a diluted blend of bleach and water. You can use a sponge or rag to apply the cleaner and gently scrub until all visible traces of mold are gone. However, some homeowners might use other options, like hydrogen peroxide. Whatever cleaner you use, avoid mixing it with other cleaners. For example, blending bleach with ammonia creates toxic chlorine gas, so never use these chemicals concurrently.
7. Choose Your Construction Materials Wisely
The most effective way of preventing mold is to let your home entirely dry before you start repairing the hurricane damage. However, this isn’t always an option, so many contractors will start replacing drywall and doing other repairs once wood moisture levels are down to 14%.
If you plan on going this route, choose your materials with care. Some synthetics and waterproof materials can trap moisture in your home, not allowing it to dry thoroughly. The biggest culprit of this is vinyl wallpaper. This material keeps your walls from drying completely on the inside, so avoid it at all costs as you put your home back together after a storm.
8. Monitor Your Humidity Levels in the Future
The key to controlling mold growth is to control humidity. Usually, experts in mold remediation will recommend you keep monitoring your home’s humidity levels long after the hurricane repairs are over. You can get small sensors that let you check your indoor humidity. In general, any humidity level over 60% can cause mold growth. If you’re consistently getting high humidity readings, you may need to run dehumidifiers more frequently or find other ways to dry your home’s interior.
With Pur360‘s services, it can be a lot easier to eliminate and avoid mold. Our flood cleanup services help to reduce moisture due to hurricanes, and if any mold does start to grow, we can remove it quickly. We provide mold remediation in Florida and throughout several United States locations. We also offer a variety of other cleaning services, including odor removal and ultraviolet sanitation. Find out more about Pur360 by giving us a call today!