Dear Angie: I have traces of mold across parts of my basement walls. What is the best way to kill and remove it, and then to prevent it from coming back?
– Jeff B., Indianapolis
Dear Jeff: Before you try to remove the mold, you should first figure out the source of the mold to prevent it from coming back. Highly rated mold remediators I’ve talked to over the years have all said the same thing: “You don’t have a mold problem. You have a moisture problem.”
Once you address the moisture problem, you can take care of the mold, which doesn’t need much to thrive. Mold often grows in dark areas that have some humidity, so it’s typically found in attics, basements, ceilings, crawlspaces, behind drywall, in windows and under sinks.
Because of this, often, homeowners aren’t even aware they have an issue. Not addressing mold and its cause, though, can lead to problems with your health, not to mention your home.
If it’s a smaller area of mold – less than 10 square feet – you can probably tackle the job yourself. Bleach cleaning is no longer the recommended cleaning method. First, be sure to wear protective gear, like gloves, goggles and a respirator. If it’s a hard surface, remove the mold by scrubbing it with water and detergent, or a multi-purpose cleaner.
Dry the surface thoroughly and as quickly as you can. Any porous material affected with mold will likely need to be removed. That material should then be sealed in plastic bags before you dispose of it. After you’ve cleaned the area, be sure to revisit the site of the mold often to check for signs of additional damage or more mold growth.
If it’s a larger area that’s affected, find a professional who is trained to deal properly with mold. Reputable remediation experts can advise you on the best approach for your particular issue. To ensure objectivity, if you hire someone to test for mold, be sure it’s not the same person who remediates it.
A mold remediation professional should contain the mold, remove it, and restore the affected area to its pre-mold condition, which sometimes includes replacing structures or sealing the area with a mold inhibitor so it will not reappear. Once the cleanup is complete, bring in an independent third-party inspection company to perform a clearance inspection and certify that the mold has been removed.
When hiring, ask for a Certificate of Insurance. Look for a remediator with certification from a reputable organization like The Clean Trust (formerly the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) or the Indoor Environmental Standards Organization.
Ask the company what type of warranty it offers. You should expect a minimum three-month warranty with any work done.
This article originally appeared on Angie’s List.