The proper way to kill mold is to remove it completely from all affected areas and unsalvable materials. There are some cases where mold can be “killed,” but even these projects include the remediation process.
Step 1. Remove all non-salvageable materials.
Step 2. Preclean effected areas to remove most of the mold contamination.
Homeowners are advised to be on the lookout for companies and contractors who advertise mold killing treatments. The following are 4 major red flags of a scamming mold contractor.
1. No IICRC Certification
A mold contractor without proper IICRC certifications is the first major red flag to consider. Some states require no license for mold removal and remediation. Therefore, any cleaning company can offer mold cleanup and removal services. Mold remediation projects should be supervised by an IICRC certified professional. Furthermore, the supervisor should have the ARMT, applied remediation mold technician certification.
2. Fogging To Kill Mold Is A Scam
Some companies mislead homeowners into thinking they can “fog to kill mold” the way one would fog for roaches. Fogging with a mold inhibitor without removing moldy materials is a major violation of standard.
3. No Moldy Materials Removed
What is mold remediation without demo? Beware of any contractor offering to clean the visible mold, spray everything down. Mold growth indicates water damage. Without properly addressing the water damage issue, a mold removal project cannot be successful.
Homeowner Tip #1
Prevent the need to kill mold by keeping your home clean and dry. Routine cleaning and maintenance are the best ways to keep your home or office mold free. Maintaining free air flow circulation is the next major recommendation. Air flow prevents mold from settling to grow. A clean, dry, well-ventilated room is least likely to grow mold.
The only way to kill mold is to eliminate it the source. One hundred percent of the time, mold growth is the result of a plumbing leak or water damage. Mold cannot survive without a water source; this includes high humidity.
Good air circulation is not possible without removing all mold contaminated contents and materials. Effected materials must be removed to prevent the spread and cross contamination of mold. Structural drying is vital to a successful mold remediation and cannot begin until mold contamination has been reduced by 80% or more.
To recap, when a customer asks “how to kill mold” the correct answer is that we must eliminate it at the source. The objective of mold remediation is not to kill the mold, it is to remove mold from the affected living area. Only after we have removed all mold can structural materials and salvageable items be remediated.
Aggressive Cleaning And Mold Remediation
The IICRC S520 is the mold removal industry standard. This standard requires that all mold removal projects employ an aggressive cleaning method for mold decontamination. Aggressive cleaning includes, but is not limited to, hand powered scrubbing, metal brushing, sanding and sand blasting.
HEPA Extraction And Mold Removal
High-efficiency particulate absorbing vacuums are used to perform detailed cleaning for mold removal projects. After wall cavities and joist systems have been exfoliated, they are then HEPA vacuumed. This process helps to remove mold trapped under the surface of structural materials.
Apply Anti-Mold Agent
Applying the anti-mold agent is the last phase of a mold remediation project. This is what people commonly refer to as “killing the mold.” Anti-microbial de-activates mold spores, while structural drying removing excess water to prevent future mold growth from occurring.
Is Mold Hard To Kill?
1st Remove Moldy Drywall
There is no easy way to kill mold. Mold remediation is a very laborious job. Mold removal projects often include a phase of demolition. During the demolition phase effected drywall is the first finishing material to be removed. Removing wet drywall helps to reduce room humidity and stabilize indoor environments.
2nd Remove Unsalvable Carpet
Demolition is by far the most difficult part of the mold removal process. After the effected drywall has been removed, next up is the carpet and pad. Eliminating unsalvable carpet reduces humidity and improves odors.
3rd Clean and Decontaminate
Mold decontamination cannot begin until the effected materials have been removed. This is when the aggressive cleaning method, HEPA vacuuming, and application of anti-microbial are employed.
The results of mold inspections are representative of conditions existing at the exact time and location of where samples were taken only. Therefore, inspectors can not rely on mold inspection reports to represent conditions at any other location or date.
Testing may be required for asbestos, lead paint, and other environmental hazards prior to remediation. The presence of such materials take precedence over mold remediation. Removing regulated materials must be conducted in accordance with federal, state, provincial, local laws, regulations and specific remediation protocols.
The Goal of a Mold Inspection
Unlike a free mold estimate, a mold inspection cannot be conducted virtually and must be conducted onsite. Mold inspections include testing with analysis and a complete report. Reports include, but are not limited to mold damage documentation and remediation cost projections. Service fees include inspection and per sample charges.
Invasive inspections are more expensive than non-invasive inspections, while fees vary and start at $250. The average mold inspection requires 2-5 samples priced at $50 each. Invasive mold inspections include spaces such as attics and crawlspaces, opening walls, removing baseboards, inspecting HVAC Systems and other hard to reach areas.
Video conferencing allows us to provide immediate insight to our customers about their mold removal projects. Subsequently, customers should expect to receive an initial mold estimate via video chat. As a result, contractors and customers save both time and money by connecting first via video chat. This helps businesses keep costs low, allowing customers to save more money.
Mold Inspections and Testing Disclaimer
1. Do not depend on your mold inspector for any medical advice.
Providing medical advise with regards to personal health concerns about mold contamination is the job of a medical specialist, not the mold inspector.
However, airborne particles originating from biological sources can result in symptoms or illness as well.
3. Mold inspection is not intended to report on what the inspector considers to be typical levels of mold.
A mold test is not an environmental investigation for any other condition. Further testing is required for dust mite, roach, pet allergens, virus, bacteria, lead-based paint, asbestos, radon, or any other environmental conditions.
4. Mold Metrix does not offer an opinion as to the advisability of the purchase or sale of property.
Furthermore, Mold Metrix is not responsible for the non-discovery of any water damage or mold contamination for which Metrix has not been contracted to inspect. Likewise, this is also true for any other problems undetected because sampling was not requested and paid for.
INTERIOR MOLD INSPECTION
No destructive or disruptive testing will be performed unless contracted by a client. An inspector will not check any area that poses a safety threat to the inspector such as walking on roofs. Likewise, attics and crawl spaces with low clearance may not be entered.
Correspondingly, customers should understand that inspections can only report on problems present at the time of testing. Inspectors cannot report on areas or locations in the building that have not been specifically inspected and tested.
Samples of non-active spores only allow for spore identification to the genus and not the species level. Therefore, comparison of levels to similar types of indoor and outdoor spore types is not exact. This is especially true for some small, round spores, such as aspergillus and penicillium spores.
Active spore sampling only allows for identification and categorization of molds that germinated from live spores. Consequently, many dead yet still allergenic spores may be missed in the lab results when using this methodology, resulting in low estimations of the number of actual spores present.
INVASIVE MOLD INSPECTION
Inspectors cannot guarantee mold growing within a wall cavity can be found. Hidden mold may not be producing large numbers of spores during sampling. Also, mold may not have access to the spore trap due to insulation or other blockades.
A customer called me out because they discovered some mold in the ceiling corner of their kitchen pantry. As I spoke with the customer and listened to the details he was able to provide, I thought to myself there’s a real chance that this may be covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. Plumbing leaks causing water damage and mold can be covered by insurance. We were able to schedule an onsite mold inspection for the very same day.
Black Mold Discovered
As an IICRC certified mold and water damage restoration professional I understood stachybotrys aka “black mold” cannot grow without a constant source of water. Stachybotrys is not like aspergillus or penicillium mold, which are able to grow with only elevated humidity. Black mold, however, cannot survive on humidity alone and needs to have a constant source of water to begin its sporulation process.
Plumbing Leaks and Mold
Equipped with this knowledge my investigation expanded upstairs into the bathroom to better interpret the source of this water damage. Directly above the kitchen pantry was the master bathroom. There was a large jacuzzi tub, along with a toilet and bidet installed on the far side of the bathroom. The customer reported not using the tub, so we initially estimated that the water damage was caused by failed plumbing associated with the toilet. According to PHP Plumbing, most homeowners do not use there jacuzzi tub on a regular basis, so the customer not using the tub did not seem unusual. I was excited to have discovered the cause of the mold downstairs.
Mold Remediation Documentation
Throughout my mold inspection I was careful to document all water damage. Mold remediation project documentation was very important on this project because there was a big possibility that insurance would cover most of the costs associated with this mold removal project. Once I had created my initial report, I contacted the homeowner’s insurance adjuster. The adjuster was willing to provide coverage if we were able to document a new plumbing leak and prove that the mold growth was not due to a lack of maintenance on the homeowner’s part.
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Plumber’s Report and Mold Removal
The insurance company wanted to make sure that they were covering a water damage and plumbing failure which could be classified as setting or accidental. Homeowners insurance will not cover mold removal that cannot be directly traced to a new water damage or plumbing leak. This is why a plumber’s report is critical to submitting a claim for mold or water damage coverage, because the plumber’s report states the official cause of water damage and mold.
Metrix Restoration we believe that plumbers and mold removal professionals should work together. This is why we created the Metrix Connection to better network with the best plumbers throughout our service territory. Being able to co-ordinate mold removal projects with a plumber allows us to add more value and better serve our mold removal customers. For this project we contacted one of our best plumbing companies in our network, Perfection HVAC and Plumbing of Northern VA.
Mold Remediation Discoveries
Upon removing the wet, mold contaminated drywall from the effected kitchen pantry, I was surprised at what I discovered. There was an obvious plumbing leak coming from above, but it wasn’t obvious where the leak was coming from. We previously estimated the water damage to be the result of failed plumbing associated with the toilet, however, the leak was coming from failed plumbing associated with the bathroom tub.
I was shocked at the amount of mold growth discovered once I removed the tile encasement of the master bathroom tub. Mold was growing all over the sub floor and had even begun to sprout as mushrooms. Mold is a fungus and under the right conditions mold will sprout in mushroom form. There were some mold mushrooms growing on the sub floor four inches high.
Leaky Bathroom Water Pipe
The mold growth mentioned above was being supported by a leaky water supply line. We were able to confirm that the adjacent water supply line had also leaked previously, causing the prior water damage to the kitchen pantry. The plumbing and water leak were previously repaired; however, the water damage was never properly mitigated by the previous homeowner. In addition to the water leak being repaired, the wet water damaged drywall of the kitchen pantry should have also been removed, so that the subfloor could be dried from below and above.
Once we were able to discover and confirm that the prior water damage the prior leak was repaired, we could now prove to the insurance adjuster that this was indeed a new water damage. However, the age of this new leak was still a mystery. What we do know for certain is that the customer reported seeing black mold on the kitchen pantry developing only recently, which supports a plumbing failure which is sudden or accidental and not due to lack of maintenance on the homeowner’s part. However, the presence of four-inch mold mushrooms growing in the same area, indicate severe water damage unaddressed for an extended period of time.
Metrix Offers Water Damage, Plumbing and Mold Remediation
Regardless of the previous water damage, the fact that there is a new leak with a new plumbing issue means that this homeowner is entitled to coverage with their homeowners’ policy. The homeowner’s insurance would be responsible for covering the water damage and mold remediation repairs but would not cover the mold remediation line items associated with the project. The reason being is that obviously there was pre-existing water damage which were never addressed; therefore, homeowners’ insurance is not responsible. However, homeowners’ insurance would be responsible for all damages associated with the new water damage including structural drying, retiling the bathroom tub and drywall repairs associated with the water damage. No portion of the plumbing would be able to be billed back to water damage claim.
If you or someone you know is in need of water damage mitigation, mold remediation or needs a plumbing repair; choose Metrix over the Matter. The power to change the matter is in the Metrix. We are available 24/7 for plumbing and water damage emergencies. We also offer mitigation repairs.
Over the years I have done a lot of work for Marines stationed at Quantico Marine Base, mostly mold remediation jobs. Oftentimes, marines will rent or own a property and experience a mold issue. Several marines over the years have left stunning recommendations for Mold Metrix. Referrals have come from officers and enlisted service personnel stationed at Quantico.
Mold Remediation Standards
Credentials are a major part of contracting with the government, state or even with the marines, so when you do a project it’s very important for someone to have the designated qualifications to officially verify that a job was done to standard. I was in the military previously, so I have firsthand knowledge of how this works. This system of quality assurance is something I took with me from my military career into serving the commercial and residential markets. I believe that the Mold Metrix customer respects a service professional who is both experienced and credentialed. Mold Metrix service professionals are highly trained and are sure to meet or exceed all industry standards.
Mold Removal Documentation
In the military, it’s important that a project be documented, so this is also true regarding a mold remediation project done for the marines. Fortunately, project documentation comes standard with Mold Metrix. I was contacted by the Marines with regards to a military vehicle that had been exposed to water damage and was suffering from mold contamination. After fitting the criteria for this project and understanding what it means to work with the military, we were able to get a contract signed. The next step was to get approval for the fee to come out and inspect the project. I reached out to Alex Automotive of Woodbridge VA to inspect the vehicle ventilation system as it is always important to use specific trade professionals for quality assurance on mold remediation projects.
The key to this project, or to doing any mold remediation project concerning a vehicle is the air filtration system. You don’t want to have a person sitting in the car, breathing in mold. We want to be sure that when the vehicle is turned on the AC, heater, or the fan is not mold blowing from the ventilation system into the vehicle, contaminating air and putting the occupants at risk. When restoring a vehicle that has been water damaged and is now suffering from mold, not only do we need to remove all unsalvageable material to clean and decontaminate the vehicle, but we must also clean and decontaminate the air filtration system as well. This means taking apart the dash, cleaning out the air filtration system, changing the filter and putting everything back together.
IICRC S500 and S520 Mold Remediation Standard
Mold Remediation Credentials
After a vehicle has been cleaned and decontaminated from mold, the next step is to conduct sampling lab analysis to confirm that the project was completed to standard. Once the vehicle passes inspection a mold remediation inspector can sign off on the project. The IICRC certification for mold removal is the AMRT. This is the “applied microbial remediation technician” certification and is the actual credential it is necessary to possess when conducting mold remediation for the military or doing business with the government.
The IICRC AMRT is not the same as having a water damage restoration technician certification; the two go together like peanut butter and Jelly. Water damage restoration and mold remediation can’t be separated because they are two sides of the same coin. You can be a water damage professional and do mold remediation. From being an apprentice, to a journeyman, to a master wanted damage restoration professional, the AMRT for mold remediation is an advanced certification that not many technicians have.
Certified Mold Removal Professionals
Less than 40% of water damage remediation professionals who are practicing mold remediation have the IICRC ARMT certification, even though this is the industry standard. Mold Metrix is the type of company that meets all of the required standards. We are the company that checks all the boxes, not only can we do mold remediation, but we have the certifications and insurance to do in the state of Virginia. There is no trade license required for mold remediation, but we are legitimate contractors with all the industry certifications and insurance to be able to contract for mold mediation as well as water damage restoration.
Insurance Accepted, financing Available
Best Mold Remediation Company 2023
Mold Metrix also provides mold repairs to better serve our customers. We are proud to offer mold repair and reconstruction services including drywall and flooring. This helps us to be an overall better company and to create stronger relationships with related trade contractors, especially plumbers. If you or somebody you know has water damage or is in need of mold removal, then choose Mold Metrix over the matter, because the power to change the matter is in the Metrix. If you’re looking for a company that fits all the boxes and has all the certifications, offers good business, quality service at fair industry prices, then you’re looking for Mold Metrix. Mold Metrix is looking to serve all of your mold remediation and water damage needs, including mold repairs. Don’t forget to visit us online at http://www.floodmetrix.com and schedule a free virtual estimate.
Water Damage Restoration: What to do if your adjustor disagrees with your contractor?
This article is about the confusion an uncertified water damage insurance adjustor can create. I received the request for water removal from a customer who lives in a condo on the second level. Her neighbor above had something leak, we don’t know what it is, whether it was a busted pipe or leaky toilet. All we know is that the water leaked from the third level of the condo, down into the second unit of my customer’s house, through her floor, and through the ceiling down to the first unit.
Unfortunately, my customer was assigned an adjustor who was not IICRC certified and had no related industry certifications. I go onsite to conduct my initial investigation with the customer. From first glance, the water damage did not appear to be so extensive. However, after checking the moisture content levels of the ceiling, to discover they were completely saturated. Additionally, carpet and pad were saturated. The bathroom didn’t appear to be as bad as it was, however, the customer was able to take video of the water loss occurring. If I had not seen the video, I may not have discovered the additional water damage.
There was water pouring down the ceiling, through her overhead fan, through the lighting fixture, right down onto her bed and onto the floor. Water was splattering and caused water damage to her wooden nightstands and dressers. Water was falling through the air duct in the bathroom, directly over her vanity. I told the customer that according to the ICRC S500, we will remove the drywall and we will also take up the carpet and the pad because I saw how much water fell from the ceiling.
There was a question as to whether there could be water trapped under the tile of her bathroom floor. Ordinarily I would think she would be safe from having this happen, because tile has one of the highest water resistance levels of different building materials. When I saw the video, I realized there was a good chance water could have become trapped under the tile in the bathroom for two reasons. One: just how much water fell and the accompanying pressure causing water damage. Two: there were breaks in the seals around the toilet and the tub, so water may have got trapped under the tile from one of those breaks in the seal.
Insurance Accepted, financing Available
Residential Water Damage Restoration is 60% Personal and 40% Business
Knowing that the customer works from home, I asked what would be a good time for us to start? We decided that doing the water damage over the weekend would be better for her because she’s not working. I agreed and figured that this would be something her adjuster could definitely understand, we could definitely justify beginning on the weekend. However, this adjuster was perhaps one of the worst adjusters that my customer could have been assigned.
The adjustor claims to have had 10 years of experience. When I got on the phone with her, to explain the water damage from having been onsite, but this adjustor had the audacity to believe they knew what needed to happen better than me even, though I’m an ICRC certified master water damage restoration professional. I had also been on site to conduct psychrometric analysis and this adjuster saw some pictures. She wanted the customer to believe that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that she did. I asked the adjuster what if any IICRC certifications do you have? Their respond was: “you know what,I’m not getting into a conversation about certifications”. That was the red flag to me know this adjuster had no IICRC water damage restoration certifications, because if she did, she would one agree with me and she would say that she had certifications.
Cat 3 Water Damage Restoration
Our biggest discrepancy was how we should categorize this project. I said we should categorize this project as a CAT3 water damage restoration, and she adamantly objected. They believed the water damage should be done as a Cat 2 water loss. Even if we assume that upstairs was perfectly clean, in order to error on the side of caution, I didn’t think that it would be wise to assume that everything upstairs on the third level was completely in order. In order for me to agree with the adjuster, that would mean I have to assume everything upstairs was in pristine clean condition, but:
We don’t know if this person upstairs had pets,
We don’t know what the condition of the floor or the carpet was,
We don’t know what the overall condition of the unit upstairs was.
I didn’t think it was wise or in the customer’s best interest to classify this water damage as a Cat 2, besides the ICRC S500 water damage standard states that even if the water came from a clean source, when the water hit the ground, the category increases because it is presumed that the water is not carrying additional contaminates. This is standard practice for all water damage restoration professionals, we never do a project as a Category 1 water damage. All water damage is either a Cat 2 or a CAT 3 water damage, because even if the water started off clean, when the water touches the floor it becomes Cat 2.
Here’s another red flag that let me know that this this adjuster really didn’t have the experience they claimed. When water falls from one level to the next, for example, through a ceiling or through a floor, down to the next to the room underneath, the water automatically changes categories. Therefore even if the water came from a clean source, when the water when hit the floor of the third level unit, it became CAT2 water, when that water fell through the floor and through the ceiling of my customer’s house, that water became CAT3 water damage.
Water Damage Restoration: Professional 2nd Opinion
The water damage mitigation adjuster didn’t agree, but I knew I was right. After the conversation I was so appalled, and I wanted to report her. I wanted to speak with her supervisor. I just felt like it was very irresponsible to even have an adjuster in this position who obviously didn’t have the right training and did not know what she was talking about. I advised the customer to get a second opinion. Flood Metrix would pay to get a second opinion as long as the company is IICRC certified and are direct to customer water damage contractors. If they agree with the adjuster, then you hired them but if they agree with Flood Metrix we will pay the fee, to have them write up their remediation protocol and then this way we have will have two different opinions from two different IICRC certified water damage restoration companies each recommending the same course of action. Then it would be difficult for the adjuster to justify ignoring the recommendations of certified of two separate certified IICRC certified water damage restoration companies as for the proper course of action for this loss.
During a water damage restoration, customers are already stressed out. Insurance companies know that most water damage policyholders are not reading their insurance policies and the last thing a customer wants to do is be stressed out by their insurance company when it’s time for them to use it. Some insurance companies use this against their customers. They don’t care about their policyholders, they don’t even care about the IICRC standard. They just want to have something done and pressure the policyholder into doing something or what they say should happen, even though they’re not the ones who are professionally qualified to make the call. It’s an egregious act and misuse of authority. This adjuster put their policy holder in even more duress until she didn’t know what to do.
Water Damage Restoration IICRC S500
There’s another detail in the IICRC S500 water damage standard which states: the longer a project sits, the longer and more likely it is to become a Cat 3 water loss. Previously, after 72 hours, a water damage automatically became Cat 3, but the new standard reads that it’s not automatically Cat 3 if the water damage professional on site doesn’t recognize any signs of mold growth. He could then treat the loss as a Cat 2 water damage. Basically, by the time the homeowner would be able to get a second opinion the 72-hour water damage time frame would have lapsed.
This adjuster from All State was the worst adjuster this customer could have been assigned. It was clear they had no water damage restoration experience. As an adjuster, she was very unprofessional and took everything personally, which was not good for the client. When clients understands that the adjuster is saying one thing and the contractor is saying another, they ultimately feel like they are forced to go with their adjuster, when that’s not true. It’s not the case and customers just don’t understand what their rights are, especially when they have a water damage, because they just want to get the water damage taken care of. They just don’t have the attention to put towards really finding out what the insurance company is obligated to do, because they’re in so much fear of the water damage not being covered.
My recommendation to all homeowners before you have a water damage, or during the water damage is to read your policy. Read your homeowners’ insurance policy and understand what is covered and what is not covered for a water damage. When is mold covered, when is it not covered, so that you can know your rights. Homeowners should know what the full scope of their benefits are to prevent being taken advantage of by an adjuster who’s just all about the money. There is no way this adjuster could convince me that she wanted to advocate for this customer or that she was really on the customer side. Everything that she did was for the insurance company. No recommendation she made was really to benefit the customer, it was really to shortchange the customer take advantage of her position. Dealing with this adjustor and the inconvenience they caused prompted me to write this blog, because homeowners need to know what to do during the water damage, especially when you have an adjuster who is just not cooperative.