Microbial (Mold) growth most often occurs as a result of unaddressed direct physical water damage. Building materials can be wet and the property owner may or may not realize it. Since microbial growth can begin within days of a water loss, prompt response is needed to prevent mold from becoming a problem.
This mold remediation occurred in a vacant home in Great Falls VA that was on the market to be sold. The water filter on the refrigerator’s ice maker had cracked and leaked water for an unknown number of days. One day the owner stopped by to check on the house and noticed the kitchen floor was wet and called his insurance company. His insurance company put him in touch with Restortech to mitigate the water damage.
Mold Remediation Specialists Serving Alexandria, Fairfax, and the Surrounding Northern VA Area
We responded the same day and when the crew moved the refrigerator out to inspect the floor underneath, they found this:
The responding crew knew from certification and training those other areas may be impacted with mold in addition to the kitchen drywall and floor. Mold was observed on the underside of the sub floor, the floor joists above the kitchen, and directly below the kitchen in the vicinity where the refrigerator was.
When mold is discovered on a water damage call it is our Company policy to pause the job until the insurance company can be informed of the mold problem. Coverages can vary in unoccupied homes so, acting in the best interest of our customer we paused the job until the insurer accepted the mold damage as a result of direct physical water damage and approved our remediation plan.
Mold Testing in Northern Virginia
Under most situations where mold is discovered, we recommend the use of an environmental specialist to perform air and surface sampling then write a protocol. This being a vacant home and when the mold damage is obvious and confined to a specific area, as in this case, we will proceed with remedial procedures without a protocol with the understanding that clearance testing will be performed by an environmental specialist after completion of the remediation.
Mold spores can become suspended in the air stream and migrate towards other areas. This is the reason we do not use drying fans on mold projects. The objective is to isolate the areas of visible mold with plastic containment barriers to prevent remediation activity from inadvertently spreading the mold spores. Following the ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation, the wet materials showing visible signs of mold growth are first HEPA vacuumed then removed and bagged for disposal. In most cases this will require a substantial amount of demolition. Kitchens present unique problems in that base cabinetry in installed on finished (drywall) walls, which have likely absorbed moisture dictating the removal of the base cabinets.
Water Damage Restoration Northern Virginia
Back to the water damage. Not all materials that were wet showed signs of visible mold growth. Following the ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration, in addition to removing the floor, we removed the baseboard and lower two feet of drywall, referred to as a ‘flood cut’. The reason for this is science. Wood and drywall are both porous materials and are capable of absorbing water. The water then begins to ‘wick’ upwardly in the material by capillary action. Generally, the wicking is halted at a point less than two feet from the floor.
Once the building materials are dry the surfaces are also HEPA vacuumed and wet wiped clean with an anti-microbial solution per the S520 Mold Standard. In homes with forced air ‘HVAC’ systems we recommend professionally cleaning the ductwork then applying an EPA registered antimicrobial to the non-porous surfaces. The final step involves wet fogging the entire work areas with a fine mist of the antimicrobial then re-HEPA vacuuming all building surfaces. After completion of the mold remediation the environmental specialist performed site sampling for laboratory analysis and clearance was achieved on first try.
Water Damage Loss can lead to Mold Issues
Simple water losses, if unaddressed, can evolve into major mold remediation projects. In this particular case, the owner was fortunate that his insurer agreed with the coverage and approved of the costs of remediation. Coverages vary from insurer to insurer and we strongly recommend verifying coverage before proceeding with mold projects.
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