How to Deal with Mold on Your Rental Property
There are a few key things you need to know when you’re figuring out how to deal with mold on your property. Number one, mold is a fungus. It favors areas offering moisture, warmth and food. Because of this, it typically accumulates in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and walls—if leaky pipes are present.
With that said, the best way to control the growth of mold is to eliminate moisture. While a number of different types of mold can grow in the home, the main thing to know is all of them can be harmful to human health if left to grow unchecked.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers the following tips for how to deal with mold on your property.
- Whether you should try to deal with the problem yourself depends upon the size of the colony. If the area is less than 10 square feet, you can probably tackle it yourself. If it’s larger, seek professional help.
- Before starting any type of cleanup effort, it is very important to correct the conditions leading to the propagation of the mold in the first place. Eliminate humidity wherever possible and make sure those areas stay dry. Similarly, if building materials or furnishings get wet, they should be cleaned and dried within 48 hours of the incident to prevent mold buildup.
- While cleaning, you want to avoid contact with the spores. An N-95 respirator, gloves and goggles (without ventilation holes) are highly recommended to protect your body from the fungus.
- If you discover the water feeding the mold was contaminated, or contained sewage, bring in a professional with experience dealing with this sort of situation.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Make sure you dry all water-damaged areas completely.
- Mold residing on hard surfaces should be scrubbed off with detergent and water. The surface should then be dried fully.
- Moldy surfaces should be cleaned carefully and dried thoroughly before painting or caulking. Painting over mold will lead to peeling and more mold.
- Ceiling tiles and carpet may have to be discarded if they become infested with mold. Nooks and crannies can be very difficult to clean and any place mold is allowed to remain, it will grow again. It’s best to remove these materials altogether and replace them with fresh ones.
- Bathrooms can be tough to keep mold-free. To help, always increase ventilation by running a fan or opening a window when showering or bathing. Frequent cleaning will also help prevent the growth of mold.
- If mold is detected in the HVAC system, shut it down immediately. Otherwise, it will spread the spores throughout the home. If you spot mold near an air intake, assume the fungus has infected the system. The best way to deal with the situation is to consult a professional.
In sum, to be absolutely certain a mold infestation has been eliminated, begin by making sure the contributing water leak or moisture problem has been eliminated.
One of the trickiest situations is dealing with hidden mold. The fungus will eagerly grow on the backside of drywall, wallpaper and paneling. It will also accumulate on the upper side of ceiling tiles as well as underneath carpeting and pads. Areas inside walls near pipe runs are particularly susceptible, as pipes can leak or accumulate condensation. Ductwork and roof materials can also host the fungus.
The main thing you want to avoid in your clean-up efforts is triggering a massive spore release. If you suspect mold is growing in any of these types of areas, or if you can smell it even though it seems invisible, professional help is the best strategy.
Keep in mind; mold can leave stains and other forms of cosmetic damage in its wake, even after it has been completely eradicated. For this reason, revisit the site often and look for new water damage or growth after the cleanup to ensure the problem has been eliminated. All traces of the mold (visible spores and odors) should be gone.
Mold eradication is an area in which proactive professional help can pay dividends. It’s best to use maintenance crews who routinely look for mold, in addition to keeping an eye out for the conditions leading to its growth as part of their regular procedures. In so doing, they can proactively arrest the fungus before it becomes a problem, all at no inconvenience to you.