What Causes Mold Growth?
Damage from fire and smoke losses vary in intensity and distribution depending on four factors that are required for combustion to occur:
- The amount of available oxygen
- A chain reaction
Remove one of those factors and combustion will cease. Provided there are sufficient quantities of those four factors, combustion will continue, and increase in severity.
Damage from mold growth can also vary in intensity and distribution and not unlike fire it has four components that are required for mold to grow.
- The presence of considerable moisture
- Availability of a food source
- The presence of mold spores
- Appropriate tempuratures
Removing any one of these requirements will prohibit mold growth. Provided all four requirements are met, mold can proliferate.
A Type of Fungi
Molds are fungi, neither plant nor animal. Humans are reliant on fungi, delicious mushrooms we use for food and to make life-saving medicine (penicillin), yeast that causes bread to rise, and grape juice to ferment into wine. Fungi (mold spores) are everywhere, and they are extremely small ranging from 3 to 40 microns in size (a human hair is 100 – 150 microns in width). It is when they germinate into hypha cells that mold spores begin to grow and spread.
Think of mold spores as seeds, when an airborne spore settles onto an organic substrate (food source) and moisture is present as well as sufficient temperature, the mold spores (seeds) will begin to grow. Once it germinates, it forms threadlike filaments called hyphae. The hypha filaments release digestive enzymes that metabolize the substrate. As the hyphae continue to metabolize the substrate, they begin to form larger colonies called mycelium. Once the mycelium has matured, the ends of the hypha will begin to develop spores. These spores are then released into the environment and settle onto a new substrate, thus the life cycle of a mold spore.
Ideal Conditions Cause Mold to Proliferate
Mold likes temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it likes relative humidity to be greater than 50% and it prefers dark spaces over lit spaces, mold does not like sunlight. Most of all, mold likes time to grow and thrive (viable), assuming those environmental conditions persist. Mold is a living thing, if those environmental conditions change to conditions inhospitable to mold growth, mold will die or become dormant (non-viable) lying in wait should the environmental conditions that support mold growth return.
Condominium Mold Remediation
We recently received a call from a condominium association that discovered a unit that the owner had vacated nearly a year earlier. The management was receiving complaints of a musty odor in the corridor outside the unit. Management had also noticed an increase in water consumption coming from one of the units in the building. They began knocking on doors to investigate. This is what they found:
Under most mold-related circumstances, we suggest that the client hire a company to perform air and surface testing to establish the level and boundary of mold contamination. In this case, that was not necessary. The unit was to be completely demolished of finishes, drywall, flooring, doors, trim, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. After demolition, we proceeded with our normal mold remediation procedures, which include utilizing drying and dehumidification equipment, cleaning the remaining structure, fogging the air with an antimicrobial, and a lot of HEPA vacuuming.
A Job Well Done
Once we were done, the client hired the services of an air quality testing company to verify that we achieved clearance levels. As discussed above, mold spores are always present in some quantity. When the testing is completed the test results will always show the presence of mold spores, all we are interested in are normal levels. Had this unit been tested in the condition it was in when the management found it, the levels would have been off the charts.
Virginia’s Restoration Specialists
Don’t let mold take over your home like it did this condominium! RestorTech is ready to help you with our mold remediation services. Contact us at (703) 204-0401. Located in Herndon, VA, RestorTech proudly serves Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as Alexandria, VA, and all nearby areas. For more information, see our FAQ and about us pages.