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When is enough mold cleanup enough? This mold cleanup article explains when you can (and probably should) stop looking for or testing for mold in a building after a mold cleanup has been attempted. We explain how you can be confident that the mold cleanup steps taken have been completely and properly performed. We explain when to
order a post mold remediation clearance inspection and test, describe what should be done, and review other
indicators that help you decide that a mold cleanup project has been completed after a building flood. Our photograph above shows the entry floor of a home at the completion of demolition, cleaning, disinfection, and treatment with a biocide sealant after the building was flooded.
WHEN TO STOP LOOKING FOR MOLD After Cleaning and Repairing a Flooded Building
Mold Clearance Inspections: if significant costs were involved in demolition and cleaning to remove large areas of moldy materials
(more than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous moldy stuff) from a building,
before making final payment to the cleaning contractor, you should hire an independent expert to inspect and test (not just "test") the building
The post mold remediation clearance inspector should examine the cleaned surfaces and will explore the un-treated areas to see if the demolition and cleaning were
Screening tests for incomplete mold cleaning, remaining mold contamination, or cross-contamination of areas outside the work area may be performed to check for mold in building areas which were not included in the area of work, to be sure
that they were not accidentally contaminated during the cleanup. Be sure that the post mold-remediation clearance inspection includes a
thorough visual inspection. Simple screening tests for the presence or absence of mold are not reliable.
Conflicts of interest:Be sure that your mold inspector
has no financial relationship with and is completely independent from the cleaning contractor. This step should be taken after
all demolition and cleaning have been performed and before any reconstruction has occurred. Otherwise it will be impossible to
check the building cavities that were supposed to have been cleaned.
All demolition and cleaning should have been completed before the mold clearance inspection is begun.
No moldy building contents should have been left in or stored in the building, and nothing that was removed from the building should
have been returned unless it has been cleaned.
There should be no wet areas in the building, including no hidden wet areas in building cavities or behind floor baseboard or trim.
The building should not smell moldy.
Occupants returning to the building should not have an allergic or respiratory-distress or respiratory illness response that appears
related to being inside the building. If this occurs, consult your doctor. People exposed to mold, allergens, and stress can become
hyper sensitized to mold and other respiratory irritants.
Mold work area containment systems such as plastic barriers should be left in place until after a successful mold clearance inspection, including the lab work.
Taking down mold containment barriers before the building has been cleared is a sign of a contractor in a rush. The risk is that if the cleanup was not adequate, you've now risked cross contamination of other building areas and contents - thus increasing the ultimate amount of mold cleanup work and cost.
When a remediator removes their containment system before the mold clearance inspection we think that the contractor was in a rush, may have worried that we'd consider their containment practices unprofessional or inadequate, or the contractor may just be over-confident in their work.
If your building has been flooded, beginning at FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT & CLEANUP PRIORITIES and continuing with FLOOD DAMAGE CLEANUP & REPAIR GUIDEthis website provides an easy to understand guide for flood damage assessment, setting
priorities of action, safety, and we provide special information about
avoiding or minimizing mold damage. These are quick, simple steps to minimize mold damage in a flooded building.
We also list after-flood "anti-mold" procedures that do not work or are unsafe - to help you avoid unnecessary expense in dealing with mold
after a building flood.
If your building is already moldy or if you suspect mold related illness in your building, we link to a step by step Mold Action Guide dealing with toxic or allergenic indoor mold and other indoor contaminants:
when and how to inspect or test for mold, when to hire an expert, how to clean up a moldy area, when and how to perform post-remediation mold testing.
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Questions & answers or comments about how much inspection & demolition are appropriate when cleaning & restoring a flooded or mold-damaged building.
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Hankey and Brown home inspectors, Eden Prairie, MN, technical review by Roger Hankey, prior chairman, Standards Committee, American Society of Home Inspectors - ASHI. 952 829-0044 - hankeyandbrown.com 11/06
Arlene Puentes, a licensed home inspector, educator, and building failures researcher in Kingston, NY. 11/29/06
Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
Atlas of Indoor Mold, Online Clinical Mold Atlas, Toxins, Pathogens, Allergens and Other Indoor Particles - Medical Health Effects of Mold (separate online document)
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.