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Preventing Mold Damage After a Flood: Tips for Homeowners

Mold, a common term for different kinds of fungus, attacks organic materials. Mold damage can happen to paper, books, cloth, photographs, and leather. Mold grows from spores, which are everywhere in our environment. Usually, these spores are inactive, but they will germinate when the relative humidity exceeds 70 percent. Temperatures above 65 degrees increase the likelihood of mold growth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold carries significant health risks. The health effects of a mold infestation can be as mild as an allergic reaction. But more significant personal injury can occur. Mold's poisonous compounds, mycotoxins, can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems.

After flood damage occurs in your home, one of the first things you should do is take steps to prevent any further damage that might be caused by mold growth. This article provides a brief overview of:

Toxic Mold: What To Look For

Since mold exposure can cause health problems, homeowners and renters should look for early signs in affected areas. Property owners should inspect drywall, air conditioning systems, burst pipes, and water leaks. The presence of mold can increase after water damage or natural disasters. Areas with excessive moisture, such as basements, are particularly susceptible to mold problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mold removal or prevention starts with controlling moisture.

Active mold growth is fuzzy or slimy. Different types of mold can be orange, green, purple, or black. Inactive mold may be white, and it is powdery and dry. In the early stages, the mold may look like a fine web. In full bloom, it looks bushy. Mold spores easily spread; they are carried by people, pets, and air currents.

How To Stop Toxic Mold from Spreading

Below are some tips on how to prevent the spread of mold in your home. You may also want to visit FindLaw's Mold Prevention and Control Tips for additional information about preventing the spread of mold.

  • Work fast. Under the right conditions, mold can spread and grow quickly. Delaying can also hurt a mold damage claim if you're dealing with a home insurance company adjuster.
  • Lower the humidity and temperature. Remember that mold cannot grow in low relative humidity and low temperature. Open the windows if the outside humidity is lower than the inside humidity; otherwise, use the air conditioner. Install dehumidifiers and empty them often.
  • Isolate any moldy objects. Seal moldy trash in plastic bags and remove them immediately. Objects you can save should be dried or frozen as soon as possible. Freezing inactivates mold and helps reduce or eliminate property damage.
  • Keep the area clean. Mold may remain on shelves and in cupboards where valuables were kept. Clean these surfaces with a disinfectant such as Lysol, and then increase air circulation in the room. Use fans only after moldy objects are removed and all display and storage areas are clean.

Remember that the sooner you commit to mold remediation, the stronger the likelihood that you can prevent personal injuries.

How Can I Save Moldy Possessions?

To save your possessions after they have come in contact with mold:

  • Air-dry them away from other objects. Spread out papers, stand books on end, and fan the pages open. Use blotting materials like clean towels or absorbent paper between layers of cloth or paper. Increase air circulation with a fan, but don't aim the fan directly at the objects.
  • If you can't dry the objects quickly or you have a large quantity, you can freeze books, documents, and small textiles until conditions are right to dry them. Do not freeze moldy photographs.
  • Although ultraviolet light can be damaging, brief exposure to sunlight can stop mold growth and aid drying. Exposure should not exceed 30 minutes.
  • Clean the mold only after it is dry and inactive. Very gently wipe or brush away the mold residue. Work outdoors if possible, and always wear protective clothing and a respirator.
  • Avoid harsh cleaning products and bleach; they can ruin objects. Never vacuum fragile items. Use a household vacuum cleaner outdoors, since the exhaust will spread mold spores.
  • Be sure display and storage areas are free of mold before you return any clean object to its proper place. Reinspect the objects from time to time for any new mold growth.

Valuable artifacts and photographs should be handled by a professional conservator.

Toxic Mold: Additional Relevant Resources

FindLaw provides several additional articles relevant to the topic of toxic mold, including:

Getting Legal Help With a Toxic Mold Claim

If you have suffered injuries from inhaling toxic mold, you may be entitled to compensation, depending on your living situation. If you have a homeowner's policy, you may be able to file an insurance claim. But a homeowners insurance policy can be difficult to navigate, and policyholders have to deal with all kinds of disclaimers.

An experienced toxic mold attorney can help you navigate the legal process, which may be complex and time-consuming. Additionally, toxic mold claims may be difficult to win. Getting legal guidance is your best bet at getting compensation for your injuries.

Speak to an experienced toxic mold attorney in your area today.

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