How Do You Prevent Mold From Forming After a Flood?

Understanding how to prevent mold from growing is vital for your health. Mold is naturally everywhere. It does not pose a threat to wildlife or people in those instances. Instead, the problem comes when it is insulated. Unfortunately, that is the most common occurrence, as mold thrives in moist, dark environments.

Since basements are enclosed, one little drop of moisture is needed to create this fungal substance. At The Fire Restoration Team (TFRT), we are well equipped to clean up.

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Fire damage cleanup and restoration

Preventing Mold in Basement

Residential properties can be mainly concerned with mold or mildew growth after a flood. These organisms will find any source of moisture, such as pipes & windows. What can be especially problematic is when there is a hurricane. Although more pertinent to our Texan and Floridian folks, these natural disasters not only cause floods but can also damage your home by inundating the lowest elevations of your property.

Similarly, severe storms with tornadoes can also cause flooding. In both cases, winds during these storms push with such force that they often blow over the roofs of properties. From there, precipitation and moisture can quickly enter and submerge your property. Hence, that is why we call those incidents “flash floods.”

To make matters worse, it isn’t enough for a roof to appear intact. There could be hidden leaks penetrating the roof. That would then cause your home or business’s interior to be a perfect place for mold and mildew to grow. From there, it is just a matter of time before you need to evacuate your home, as it can spread to cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wooden structures, holding up a lot of homes in America.

Mildew vs Mold

In case you didn’t know, mildew and mold aren’t synonymous. Mildew is a fungi substance that is a multicellular filament that encompasses all types that grow (what is later discussed) as hyphae. Mildew refers to specific types of fungi that grow linearly in covered areas.

Heed These Warnings That Are Backed By Science

Exposing yourself to an environment filled with mold is detrimental to your health. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), their studies linked respiratory issues with significant fungi exposure in enclosed environments. What is especially troublesome to hear is that many of these respiratory symptoms often lead to chronic problems in the upper tract of the respiratory system in young people who don’t have preexisting conditions.

For those of you with older folks living or working in the same building with you or people with comorbidities, it can be especially dreadful when a flood comes and leaves behind a mold problem. According to the research done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it can even be lethal if the problem isn’t remediated.

How to Identify Mildew and Saprophytes

How to Clean Up After a Flood to Prevent Fungi From Even Gaining a Foothold?

There is no doubt that nothing can be done when a flood comes. However, for mold, you have complete control over that outcome. Whenever there is a flood, have your property inspected by a remediation contractor.

We at TFRT will search every square inch to ensure your home or business is mold-free with our state-of-the-art moisture meters, air movers, dehumidifiers, and air scrubbers.

Of course, all of this is handled after the floodwater is drained from your property with devices that were just mentioned, followed by either inspecting, installing, or upgrading the sump pump or installing foundational vents. Lastly, we use our dry vacuum to extract the water.

It has been suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that prolonging the flood cleanup process can undoubtedly allow the moisture to develop mold, thereby exposing and destroying all items (including sensitive ones like wooden products, cloth, and furniture).

If any of your belongings’ materials contain pores where liquid can be absorbed, discard them immediately, as mold can also be trapped inside. Nevertheless, metallic surfaces and belongings made from glass can be cleaned and used without worrying about a resurgence in fungi growth.

How To Prevent Mold After A Flood?

The hard part is removing the mold. On the other hand, you have to disinfect as much as you can by doing the following. This is all recommended by the CDC:

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Remove Standing Water

  • This is a breeding ground for vermin like mosquitoes and deadly pathogens.
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Always Protect Yourself From Exposure

  • Even though mold commonly spreads on nonliving things, there are cases where a fungus can infect people’s skin if no precaution is taken. Athlete’s Foot is a common infection that occurs on the skin due to a bacterial or fungal growth that thrives on a living thing.
  • Read into all the types of fungi that can cause diseases here. Mold can form from any one of these species
  • You will need gloves, protective eyewear, an N95 mask, or any mouth cover with an air filter and valve.
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Disinfecting Nonporous Surfaces After a Flood

  • In addition to wearing protective gear, you should clean all surfaces (even those that haven’t been exposed to moisture) with soap and detergent.
  • Once completed, then go ahead and use any EPA-approved disinfectant product and follow directions.
  • If necessary, try to use bleach on certain surfaces
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Seal and Waterproof Especially For Porous Surfaces

  • Contamination on rugs and drapes should be cleaned ASAP with cleaning sprays like Clorox. The EPA will again approve many products with their labels. Keep an “eye out” for approval labels on items when shopping.
  • Dry the materials thoroughly, as moisture left behind can cause mold to grow again, especially on porous materials that easily capture moisture, such as sponges.
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Removed Any Residue or Materials

  • Unsalvagable things like soaked rugs or furniture are the first things to get rid of right away to mitigate these objects from harboring contaminants or even attracting pests.
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What About Electronic Devices

  • Everybody has one of these. To use it, wipe down the phone, tablet, TVs, and computers with a 70% alcohol wipe.
  • Clean thoroughly, especially older devices, as water can damage their configuration.

Let’s Talk About The Biocontaminants That Form

Viruses

After this pandemic, everyone thinks they know all the procedures to be virus-free. However, there is more to understanding this pathogen. As an invader reproducing via host cells (e.g., people when it comes to the flu), viruses have been responsible for the death of millions of people throughout history.

In a flood, these viruses can latch on and grow with mold in a damp environment. These can be transmitted by the air or through contaminated surfaces. The latter case is the most relevant when it comes to mold. Therefore, keep in mind that during a flood, these can contaminate your whole property, even when you think you are in the clear.

Fungi

As discussed, these organisms are the main culprits for mold formation and growth. They act like plants, except that they do not produce chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a pigment found on a plant that absorbs sunlight and converts it to energy to grow food.

Since fungi do not have this, they must absorb energy through other means. Some require feeding off other organisms in what is called a parasitic manner. If any of you watch The Last of Us, a few fungi infect their hosts in extreme cases. However, there is some truth in it. Many bugs, such as ants, fall victim to these lethal fungi. Don’t worry; there are no cordyceps that have infected people yet?!

Others feed on nonliving things; they are otherwise known as saprophytic fungi. Mold commonly comes in this form as it requires a chain of cells to link together to grow. The ones you need to watch for when it comes to your property are the mesophilic fungi, as they grow wherever there is moisture.

Even though we are discussing fungi, much of the mold compounds seen in properties are a form of multicellular fungi that contain filaments like hyphae, which will be discussed later.

How Does Fungi Grow?

Firstly, there is the spore stage. This is when the organism releases these bodies that allow the fungi to survive in an otherwise impossible environment. Here is a thought you may dread. Next time you breathe in air, you may be living in mold spores.

Secondly, the stage known as the hyphae is when these pill-shaped structures start to form, creating the first forms of fungus.

Third, mycelium occurs when the mold grows more visibly due to the host material being exposed to the fungus. In other words, it is a much more established stage of growth that can not only discolor and weaken the host material. This is where respiratory problems can develop in the occupants of the home. Moreover, this is when you need to call remediation services as soon as possible.

Complications like allergic reactions develop since harmful chemicals like mycotoxin can be produced by the fungi in the mold (varies from Aspergillus to Penicillium and black mold).

Lessons From Handling Toxins and Contaminants

A flooded property is nothing but a nightmare. Cleaning up the mess can be at least a headache that costs an “arm and leg.” Accordingly, you want to be careful when handling the problem. The CDC has all of the information necessary to resolve this issue yourself.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that your health is at risk as you are handling chemicals (potentially toxic to the body) to eradicate fungi that are capable of causing you or your loved ones harm. The safest way to manage mold damage after a flood is to count on TFRT, as we are affordable and perform the clean-up job with due diligence.

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