In some areas throughout the country, mold in homes has become a growing concern. A small leak or a major flood can trigger an outbreak. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), molds are a natural part of the environment. Molds produce microscopic cells called "spores" which are very tiny and spread easily through the air. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed.
Molds have the potential to cause health problems. It can produce allergens (a substance that can cause allergic reaction), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances call myotoxins.
How can you tell if you have mold in your home? The EPA states that if your home smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage, there could be mold present in your home. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation). Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth.
When contemplating clean up of mold, you need to verify the extent of the problem. It could be a small problem fixed by stopping a plumbing leak and applying a mixture of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water, or it can be a larger problem that can be eliminated by hiring a professional.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be careful when choosing a professional to clean up the mold. Mold repair, also known as remediation, is big business these days and businesses are cashing in. Most companies are legitimate. But some are taking advantage of consumers and insurance companies.
If you choose to use outside contractors or professionals, make sure they have experience in cleaning up mold. Ask for references and check them out. Obtain two to three bids. Find out how long the company has been in business. Check the company out with the BBB. Also, work with your homeowner's insurance company. An insurance agent should be able to recommend a reliable and reputable remediation company.