The recent history-making floods in Louisiana has left several business and organizations struggling to recover. While much of the material damage is obvious, insulation damage goes largely unseen. Microscopic organisms hide in the cracks and crevices. Amid the dark, damp interior the growing enemy will cause significant structural damage and health concerns…
Unless its stopped.
Mold infestation is one of the most common and expensive post-flood issues. The fungus grows and multiplies in damp environments, making flooded buildings the ideal environment. It only takes a few inches of water to spread the infection, and it only takes 24 hours for the fungi to grow.
Mold can also trigger sinus allergies or allergy-like symptoms creating, mainly affecting the upper respiratory system. The exposure may cause coughing, skin irritation, nasal and sinus congestion or sore throats. Long-term exposure to high mold levels can be unhealthy.
Reduce excess damage by preventing potential mold growth. Prevent growth by replacing compromised building elements and drying out savable insulation.
MOLD LOVES TO HIDE IN DARK PLACES
More often than not, insulation such as doors will need to be replaced. If the water is even 6 inches high, the damage could easily spread upward in a wick effect. After flood damage it is especially important to inspect, dry and often replace walls, doors and windows.
- Walls: When it comes to walls, the moisture will develop beneath the surface. The insulation needs to be dried or removed to prevent unseen mold and structure damage. Even if it appears to be dry, the dampness will spread leading to hidden decay fungi. The best way to get to the inside is to remove the wall board at least two feet over the water line.
First try to dry to insulation. De-humidifying blowers provide the fastest drying. Many water-damage restoration specialists use these. You can also test the moisture content first with a moisture detector.
- Doors: More often than not the commercial steel doors will need to be replaced. There in unseen damage inside the door, which could come later create mold. The moisture is likely trapped between the steel slabs, creating the ideal environment for fungi growth. Commercial metal doors would also need to be replaced. With even six inches of water, the doors will be compromised.
While wet commercial wood doors won’t store mold, the wood will likely swell up and become unusable within the frame. Once the water reaches only a few inches up the wood, more often than not the wood door will need to be replaced.
Don’t forget about the door frames which could easily trap moisture in the little gaps between the wall. However, frames issues can easily be fixed to avoid replacing them. In order to dry out the space, take off the dry wall or sheet rock. Make sure all of the back space is addressed and dried.
- Carpets: Probably one of the most at risk places for mold growth is the carpeting. Even if it’s not immediately apparent, the damp post-flood surface will likely need to be replaced before mold buildup. If more than one area of the carpet has been affected, it’s time to start ripping it out.
However, if the carpet is in a different room than the main flooding and only tiny areas of growth have been found, try cleaning first. Sometimes detergent and water used in a steam-cleaning machine can do the job. Other common rug-cleaning products can also be used. It will take 24 hours to tell if the cleaning is effective.
- Bathrooms: In your recovery process, don’t forget the bathrooms. As long as the bathroom stalls are made of nonporous materials they can usually be cleaned. However, be careful to actually remove the mold instead of just killing it. Even the dead spores could cause bad health problems.
The material toilet partitions are made of can make a big difference. Plastic laminate toilet partitions are a great choice for bathrooms that experience light use and have regular maintenance. But prolonged water exposure can cause the MDF (fiberboard) core of laminate toilet partitions to expand, resulting in delamination of the outer layer.
Additionally, be sure to clean carefully with a disinfectant. Bleach will work well for nonmetal surfaces. Safer, less-corrosive disinfectants include alcohols, disinfecting cleaners and hydrogen peroxide.
ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, STAY ALERT
If the mold has already festered, you will likely smell the strong odorous results. Clear out the unwanted infection as soon as possible. When removing the mold, the process will likely disturb the spores and release toxicity into the air. Remember to protect yourself during removal with protective equipment such as a dust filter mask, goggles, gloves and protective clothes that cover your whole body.
With a proactive approach to preventing the spread of mold through the insulation of your building, you’ll avoid damage to your wallet and health. Take the easy way out.