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Attic or cathedral ceiling mold cleanup:
Do we need to remove the roof or perform other demolition to clean or remove attic, cathedral ceiling, or other roof cavity mold contamination? Here we explain when a roof tear-off is justified as part of an attic or roof mold cleanup project (rarely) and when roof tear-offs are not justified.
This document gives advice on how to find and deal with mold in building attics and roof cavities. This procedure helps identify the presence of or locate the probable sources of mold reservoirs in buildings, and helps decide which of these need more
invasive, exhaustive inspection and testing.
How does one determine if the roof should come off
Toxic attic mold: The photo at the left was identified as a toxic mold that probably should be removed, although the ease of movement
Generally, tearing off a roof and roof sheathing and perhaps roof framing, to remove mold would not be sensible nor cost-justified.
Mold growth, provided it is not just cosmetic mold which can simply be left alone, (see Cosmetic Mold) can be cleaned from wood surfaces by blasting, scrubbing, or even simple surface wiping, depending on the surface accessibility and smoothness.
Lots of protruding nails through a roof deck preclude wiping or scrubbing.
Do We Need to Sand or Blast the Roof Surface to Remove Mold?
Sanding wood building surfaces such as plywood or tongue and groove roof sheathing, wall sheathing, or wood framing is usually unnecessary and inappropriate. Furthermore, sanding a roof deck is almost impossible because of the interference from protruding nails. Media blasting (below) works on these surfaces.
If you must return wood surfaces to immaculate, pristine looking condition, perhaps for cosmetic reasons where wood surfaces are left exposed to view in a building interior, see
Do we have to sand or clean moldy wood to remove all traces of mold stains?
Any stains that remain on wood surfaces after cleaning are harmless (usually sterile hyphae remaining below the wood surface).
Fixing the cause of mold is an essential part of any mold cleanup job
At the time of cleaning off mold, it is essential that the cause of mold growth be corrected as well, or mold growth will probably return, regardless of whether any stained surfaces were left from the prior cleaning.
Should I use a biocide or fungicide during roof mold cleanup?
Use of fungicidal encapsulants may reduce but not eliminate the risk of future mold growth, primarily, or more lastingly because such encapsulants reduce the future uptake of moisture in the wood materials.
Fungicidal chemicals themselves can be expected to break down over time and should not be relied on as "mold proofing".
See these articles for details on using mold sprays, fungicides, coatings, encapsulants in attics
In our roof interior (attic) photo at left you can see antique roof framing along with black stains and probably some mold growth from a long history of roof leaks. Even in this case, in our OPINION the reasons to remove and replace roof sheathing and framing would normally be based on the condition of the roof framing and sheathing, not on the presence of mold or stains.
We remove mold from roof framing and sheathing;
We replace rotted or unsafe roof framing or sheathing, combining that work with a new roof covering as well.
So when is a Roof Tear Off Necessary if I've got a Moldy Attic or Cathedral Ceiling?
When the roof sheathing is rotted or damaged, or when other structural repairs are needed, a tear-off is unavoidable.
When attic surfaces or insulation contain a large reservoir of toxic or allergenic mold, AND if the area were inaccessible, say because the
space is too small to enter, then it may be necessary to remove some portion of roofing to give access for remediation, particularly if there is evidence
of transmission of problem mold from that space into the living area.
This article is part of our series: MOLD in BUILDINGS which describes how to find mold and test for mold in buildings, including how and where to collect mold samples using adhesive tape - an easy,
inexpensive, low-tech but very effective mold testing method.
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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.
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Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
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
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Associations: Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
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
"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.
Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious rot and hidden structural damage
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold
cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.
Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.