Mold removal is not a cheap service, and many victims of mold infestations believe that they can tackle the problem themselves and avoid paying high prices. Fortunately, they are not always wrong. You can take on some mold problems, but it is dependent upon a lot of factors.
If you take on an infestation alone that should have been left to professionals; you might put yourself at serious health risks. You might even spread the infestation further causing you to pay more than you would have had you just called the experts.
Criteria to Consider
Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to try and clean a mold infestation. Take each one into consideration in turn. If any of the factors call for professional help, it is best if you do so.Size
The first thing you should notice about the mold growth is its size. Small infestations of mold growth are not huge threats, as long as they are localized. A good rule of thumb is that if the mold patch is 10 square feet (about 3’ x 3’) or smaller, you can probably risk cleaning it yourself. Any larger and the infestation has likely spread or will spread when you try to clean it. Once you have determined if the patch is small enough, it’s time to consider location.
The site of a mold infestation is important regardless of size. If you find mold in a corner or behind some furniture in areas that you frequent and nowhere else, it might be an easy fix. Also, consider the material you find it on; if it’s easy to clean like glass, tile or metal then go ahead. Even if it is on hard to clean surfaces like cloth or wood, you can clean it if the mold is growing on an easily removed item like a carpet.
There are certain locations where if you find mold, no matter what, you should consider at least a professional inspection. Trying to clean mold in these places is likely to make it worse or be ineffective. These locations include in and around HVAC systems, behind walls and wallpaper, and in hard to clean rooms like an attic or basement. Mold in these areas is exceptionally difficult to clean and requires expertise to make sure it is dealt with the first time around.
If the location and size of the mold problem are conducive to self-treatment, it’s now time to determine the cause. Nearly all mold growth is due to an excess of moisture, which mold requires to grow. High humidity is a common cause of mold infestations and is usually an easy fix. Dehumidifiers and other climate control measures should correct the problem after you have cleaned it, so there’s little need to worry further.
However, other common causes of mold need to be addressed by professionals. Leaky pipes and rooves put the water mold needs to thrive into the home; usually in hard to reach places. Condensation also promotes mold growth and occurs on cold surfaces such as concrete floors and metal pipes. Additionally, in seasonal areas prone to flooding, water seeping into basements almost always results in mold. If any of these are determined to be the cause of the mold, you will likely need professional help to clean up the mold and make sure the cause is removed or fixed.
Mold comes in many varieties, and each poses different levels of risk. Some molds only pose allergy threats and don’t spread as fast as others, so you can clean them if the above criteria are met. Some of the common, less threating species include:
- Alternaria –Common airborne mold. It causes hay fever and in some cases asthma. Commonly appears as a velvety tuft with long soft hairs that is dark olive or brown.
- Cladosporium – Appears wooly or peppery and colored black and brown. This mold usually grows on rotting matter, even in refrigerators. It poses a relatively small risk.
- Penicillium – Penicillium is a green and blue mold and often only allergenic. However, some species can become toxic and more dangerous. Typically found in water damaged areas.
Other mold types are highly dangerous and merit professional help as unprotected contact could cause serious health risks. Even if the other criteria are met, it is not advisable to try and clean these molds unless you have adequate protection.
- Aspergillus – Appearing woolly or cottony and in shades of green, brown or black, this mold is toxic and dangerous. It frequently infests organic materials like carpet. Warmer areas are particularly at risk of this mold.
- Stachybotrys – Known commonly as “black mold,” this species is exceptionally hazardous. Appearing glossy and often found on paper or wood, this mold is extremely toxic. Immediate and thorough remediation is recommended.
Immediate Signs That You Should Hire Professional Help
Some situations necessitate turning to professional experts immediately. If you or anyone in your family has a medical condition that could be worsened by exposure to mold, it’s best if you leave the affected area and have it treated as soon as possible. These medical conditions include but are not limited to immune system disorders, environmental allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions.
If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of a mold-related illness such as headache, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, runny nose, chronic sinus infections, sore throat and excessive sneezing, remove yourself from the affected area and seek medical attention as well as professional mold removal services. Minimizing your exposure should be your priority.
Pick Your Battles
It’s great to be able to do things on your own, but you shouldn’t be stubborn and take on more than you can handle. With other DIY projects, you might end up out a few dollars and some time because you didn’t want to bother hiring a professional, but with mold removal, it could be much worse. To avoid serious health risks, make sure it’s a mold problem you can handle before removing it yourself.