Photo of a stairwell and entry floor of a home following demolition and cleaning for flood and mold damage (C) Daniel FriedmanMold Action after Flooding: When is a Mold Cleanup Job Complete?

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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.

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WHEN TO STOP LOOKING FOR MOLD After Cleaning and Repairing a Flooded Building

Photo of Moldy drywall in a basement following a modest 6 inch flooding event
  • 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 for mold.

    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 extensive enough.

    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.

    Clearance Inspections are discussed in more detail in a separate document at Clearance Procedures

  • There should be no visible mold in the building.

  • 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.

If your septic system has been flooded we link to an article outlining what to do about that system as well. Extensive, technically detailed in-depth articles on other mold detection, testing, and prevention methods are organized at our Mold Information Center.


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