Water damage can cause secondary mold damage if mitigation and cleanup do not take place in a timely manner. Property owners should prioritize mitigating, cleaning and drying water damage to reduce the risk of mold growth. Acting within the first 24 hours after damage may prevent mold from becoming a serious and costly problem. If a leak continues unabated or water is left standing for days, water damage and mold inspection, testing and remediation may become necessary. Take the following measures as soon as a mildew odor or signs of fungal growth become apparent in the days or weeks following water damage.
Contact United Water Restoration
As soon as a property owner or manager observes any indications of water damage, he or she should call United Water Restoration. Our network of qualified water damage specialists includes experts in your area who can arrive on site within hours. If a persistent leak or standing water have been present for some time, these professionals may recommend testing for active mold growth after mitigating or resolving moisture issues.
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Water Damage Cleanup
Depending on the category of water damage and the building materials and contents affected, cleanup may require one or more rounds of disinfection or focus primarily on drying. There are three general categories of water damage, each of which poses a greater risk of mold growth:
- Category One water damage involves clean water
- Category Two water damage may contain chemicals or microbes
- Category Three water damage may contain solid waste
Clean water is unlikely to support mold growth unless it is left standing for days after a supply line bursts. Over time, clean water will degrade into Category Two and eventually grossly contaminated Category Three water damage. Biohazardous contaminants found in Category Two or Three water damage may make mold growth more likely by supplying food sources from the point of initial damage onward.
Schedule Mold Testing
As soon as any dripping or standing water has been extracted and the surrounding area is dry, it is time to schedule mold testing if necessary. There are several circumstances in which cleaning water damage and mold inspection should be done as quickly as possible:
- Leaks that have gone undetected for a long time
- Sustained high levels of ambient moisture
- Water left standing for longer than 48 to 72 hours
While a property owner may be tempted to cut corners with a do-it-yourself mold test, these tests are completely unreliable. Mold spores are everywhere, which can make it easy to get a false positive. Moreover, these tests do not provide any insight into what species or subspecies of mold is in the active growth cycle.
Accurate identification is necessary to determine whether fungus is toxigenic and to identify the most effective approach to cleanup and remediation. United Water Restoration can put property owners in contact with the most qualified local or regional mold testing services or environmental hygienists. Testing and damage mitigation should take place as soon as possible, as it may take anywhere from days to a week to receive lab results.
Restoration and Remediation
The most reliable mold services rely on lab testing of air, bulk or surface samples to identify the species and subspecies of fungi present in a structure. Once the type of mold and sources of food and moisture have been identified, measures can be taken to remove active and existing growth and prevent recurrence. Depending on the extent of an infestation, it may be necessary to tear out and replace building materials and any contents supporting mold growth.
Porous materials are difficult to disinfect completely and may retain spores even after repeated attempts at cleaning. Property owners may want to consider replacing building materials that are prone to supporting mold with mold-resistant alternatives. Non-porous surfaces and items can be abraded or scrubbed to disturb the root structures and hyphae of mold. Some hard materials may also be good candidates for treatment with antifungal solution.
If moisture levels remain high for days, weeks or longer, the owner of a home or commercial property should arrange for cleanup of water damage and mold inspection to occur as soon as possible. United Water Restoration provides access to a nationwide network of top damage mitigation, restoration and remediation professionals with fast response times.