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After a flood, the repairs to your home can feel overwhelming. From destroyed carpets to ruined furniture, water damage can devastate any living space. While you are focused on cleaning and restoring, it is important to keep in mind that mold can become a serious problem that affects your health.
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Mold After Flooding
Mold can appear even if you remove all the standing water in a home after a flood. The excess moisture can seep into carpets, walls, floors and other parts of a building. Damp environments create the perfect place for mold growth, and it is difficult to remove mold once it appears. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that controlling moisture in your house is crucial for preventing mold.
Impact on Your Health
Mold is especially dangerous for people who have respiratory problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma or allergies. Even if you are healthy, it can still affect your body in negative ways. The impact of mold on your health can vary, but there are some common symptoms and conditions you should know about.
Some common symptoms of mold exposure are fatigue, body aches, breathing problems and sore throat. You may also have a stuffy nose, eye irritation or wheezing. Someone who has lung problems can get an infection in their lungs from mold. Anyone with a weak immune system is at a higher risk of developing complications from mold exposure.
Long-term mold exposure can have lasting health consequences. Some people experience memory loss, anxiety, depression, muscle cramps and pain, hair loss and sensitivity to light.
What’s more, living in a state like Florida that is prone to costal storms, flooding, and higher humidity means the conditions puts Floridians at an increased risk for mold growth in their homes.
Mold remediation experts in Florida recommend wearing gloves, goggles, masks and other protective gear when around mold. N95 masks or respirators can be helpful. Long-sleeved shirts and pants along with waterproof boots are also recommended. Make sure you either clean or dispose of the items you wear after being around mold.
You may be tempted to start cleaning immediately after a flood in your Florida home. Although it is important to begin the process quickly, you have to contact your insurance company first. If you have flood insurance in addition to your homeowners policy, the process should be easier. You may need to take pictures of the damage and send them to the insurance company or have an inspector come out to your house. Make sure you check about documenting the flood damage before starting the cleanup process.
In general, you want to start cleaning within 24 to 48 hours after a flood. This will help prevent mold growth and other problems. First, remove standing water and all porous items that could have absorbed water. This includes carpets, rugs, drywall, wallpaper, upholstery, clothes, insulation and other things. Take the items outside, so they can dry. Then, begin cleaning and drying everything else that requires it.
Keep in mind that mold can grow in many places, such as books or cardboard. Even ceiling tiles can be affected by it. You have to remove all wet items from the house to prevent mold.
If the water damage is minimal, you may not need professional help to clean and repair the area. However, some Florida floods can cause extensive destruction and require pros who know how to handle them. Restoration pros have equipment such as fans and dehumidifiers that can remove moisture from a house. They also have the right protective gear to work inside without risking their health.
Although you can purchase mold test kits, a professional usually has access to more accurate tests. In addition to identifying the type of mold in your home, the pros can help clean it up. You want to find professionals who are licensed by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC) or other organizations.
There is the possibility of salvaging some items, like old family photos, after a flood. However, you may need professionals to help restore them. Digitizing items like photos can help. If this is not an option, then try drying the items naturally first and use a hair dryer as long as it does not damage them. You want to avoid drying things in the oven or microwave because of the risk of fire.
You should continue to monitor the quality of the air inside your home after the flood. There are air quality monitors and trackers you can buy that will test for mold and other impurities. Even if the mold is removed, there is the possibility of it returning if there is lingering moisture or items have not dried completely.
When you are faced with cleaning up after a flood, you have to think about mold. It can affect your health in both short-term and long-term ways. Consider using a professional to help prevent and remove mold from your house.