When remodeling clients’ homes, one of the primary challenges we contractors encounter is mold. Pooled moisture leads to mold and mildew, often followed by bacteria, which introduces the possibility of termites and other vermin. While you may have entered the home expecting to take down and rebuild based on the customer’s plans, your job can suddenly change from remodeler to cleanup specialist. Handling mold and preventing further infestations are essential parts of a job well done, so employing the proper team and revisiting the original plan will be necessary for ultimate success and homeowner satisfaction.
Effects of Mold and Mildew
Mold presents structural and indoor air quality issues. Structurally, mold and mildew undermine the building by rotting wood and inviting pests that eat away at supporting walls, beams, and flooring. A home infested with mold and vermin will not stand strong and will require larger, more expensive renovations the longer the problems persist.
In addition, homeowner quality of life is at stake. Mold spores are allergens and can both cause and exacerbate breathing issues such as asthma and year-round allergies. Mildew produces an unpleasant odor that can be hard to get rid of, especially in persistently damp environments like basements. Mold can make the home an unpleasant, and even unhealthy, place to reside.
The challenge during renovation is to eliminate the mold and mildew before building and to make changes to the remodeling plan to ensure that moisture does not build up again and cause similar problems.
Sometimes, clients request remodeling to help deal with or to prevent mold and mildew issues. More often, however, a homeowner chooses to have his property remodeled, only to discover that there are more challenges that meet the eye.
Moisture that lodges unnoticed behind drywall can fester for a long time before clients become aware of issues. This creates a challenge for both our team and the homeowner, who must now factor mold cleanup into his or her renovation budget. In addition to cleanup, the homeowner will want to consider tailoring their planned renovation to include waterproofing, to prevent future water intrusion and the need for ongoing mold cleanup. These expenses can add up quickly and require budget reconsideration.
Facing Mold, Head On
Our first issue is indoor air quality. As a restoration and remodeling company, we do not perform indoor air quality testing. If we suspect that mold is affecting the home’s structure and environmental health, we call in our certified mold remediation specialist to coordinate with a mold testing service. This service evaluates the indoor air quality of the structure and helps to determine our cleanup procedure.
Once we have determined the type of mold and mildew that we are working with and how it affects the indoor air quality of the home, as well as the safety of the work area, we can proceed with our treatment with biocide, an EPA-approved liquid used to kill mold spores. We then return the next day to encapsulate the moldy area with paint or whitewash. We make sure to spray down not only the affected area, but the area around it, to ensure that no spores escape.
Renovating for a Mold-Free Future
Mold remediation works, but to remove the mold problem permanently, renovation plans should be tailored to prevent further mildew issues. You can propose the following additions to homeowners to help reduce the likelihood of repeat mold infestations:
- In bathrooms and kitchens, install an exhaust fan, preferably one with a 90 CFM (cubic feet per minute) or higher. Route it to the outside of the home using a wall or roof vent. Be sure to caulk the area between any two meeting joints and any areas where standing water could make its way beneath the surface. Create a watertight seal using silicon or another approved caulk.
- Allow framing to dry before putting up drywall so that mold does not begin to grow before the renovation is complete.
- Particularly in bathrooms and kitchens, use mold-resistant drywall and paints.
- Prevent bulk water intrusion by waterproofing the home, using flashing on the roof, and French drains in the basement.
While mold can create unforeseen issues during home renovations, the proper procedure can not only troubleshoot current mold problems, but also prevent new ones from occurring when the remodel is complete. We approach our clients with clear explanations of the process and look forward to completing a project that is mold-proof and built to last.
Collin Simons is the Operations Manager of Paul Davis Restoration, a disaster remediation company and immediate response team serving the greater Portland, OR area. Contact Simons at 503-427-2671, or visit www.restorationportland.com for more information.