Avoiding Toxic Black Mold After Extensive Water Damage

After a flood or severe leak, you may be concerned with the presence of mold. Many molds can be an inconvenience to search for and remove, but toxic black mold is an even bigger problem because of how dangerous it can be to your health. The distinction of "toxic" is important -- while there are many types of black molds, not all are dangerous. Because of the way black mold grows, this will affect what you need to do for mold prevention to keep it from growing or to catch it before it goes too far.

Black Mold Growth Requirements

Black mold grows a little differently than other types of mold. It needs more water and takes longer to grow. Where some mold species can establish a colony in a day or two with minimal water, black mold can take up to two weeks, and requires an environment that is consistently very wet. With this in mind, your first priority is drying out your house as soon as possible, but there are specific areas you should focus on.

Look At Dry Wall, Ceilings, Attacks And Basements

Since black mold grows in places that are consistently wet, it probably won't be in plain view. If you had a ceiling leak, or an upper floor leak, check in your attic and under your floors for stagnant water or signs of moisture.

Black mold grows more easily on indoor building materials like drywall, so be safe, cut out the soaked portions of drywall and set up fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the insides of the walls; you will probably need to replace the soaked portions anyway.

Drywall aside, keep an eye on the wood in the walls, the baseboard and underneath floor tiles, bathtubs, toilets and counters. Getting the bulk of the water from a floor out of your house is the easy part -- it's the smaller areas that need more work.

Always Use Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers are especially important in humid areas, because humidity will make damp areas take much longer to dry out. If it's too humid outside, you should run dehumidifier's inside and close up rather than try to air out your house. This will help things dry out much more quickly. For additional help, run your air conditioner or heater, as this also removes moisture from the air (though make sure it's safe to run your heater or air conditioner first, as floods can create the potential for electrical or other utility damage).

Look Under Carpets And Rugs

Carpets and rugs can stay damp for a very long time because they hold in water very well. You will have a carpet, carpet padding, then whatever is underneath (such as wood or concrete). Carpet padding holds in a lot of water, so if your carpet is soaked, don't just set up fans to dry them out as this won't work quickly enough.

Take up your carpet and let it dry separately, then focus on drying out the carpet padding, which you should also remove. Apply pressure to push the water to the top of the padding, and use a wet/dry vacuum to remove as much of the water as you can. Leave the padding exposed to let it dry with the use of air flow and dehumidifiers, but do try to suck out as much water as you can.

Alternatively, you can replace the padding while keeping your carpet, but this could get a little pricey.

Finally, make sure that the area underneath the padding is dry, especially if it's wood. If there was severe water damage mainly to your floors, don't plan on being able to put your carpet back down the very next day if you want to play it safe.