Although most central New Jersey home owners are well on the road to putting Tropical Storm Irene behind them, there are some truly unpleasant reminders of her presence lingering in many homes. And, according to houselogic.com, the worst part may be what you can't even see.
The visible part – and it's bad enough in and of itself – is the greenish-black mold that many can see streaking across walls and spreading into the fabric of their clothes and furniture. But the real problem is hiding behind walls, under carpets, and in the air (where spores float around looking for new places to propagate).
Normally, the dry environment inside a home prevents mold, but damp, flood-damaged houses are breeding grounds. Indoors, mold feeds off organic materials in drywall, ceiling tiles, fabric, wood, and paper. After a flood, mold can start growing within 24 to 48 hours. And it's just now becoming visible in many of our homes.
If the problem is isolated to a couple of spots, you can probably remove it on your own. Your first priority is to get rid of the mold and dry out the area. Although it may be emotionally painful, most professionals say throwing out items that have mold growth is the best method. Toss out the furniture, suitcases, and carpets. Running moldy clothes through the wash with bleach will kill the mold, but not remove it. Dead mold can be irritating to people with allergies.
If there is mold growth on the walls, there’s probably more behind it. Professionals recommend removing one to two feet of dry wall and insulation and discarding the material. While home owners are often timid about removing an adequate amount of wall, the pros are less shy.
Run a dehumidifier to pull moisture out of the air, but use fans cautiously. Fans speed the drying process, but can spread airborne spores to new areas of the house. Drying can take at least three to five days – usually more.
A professional cleanup costs $1,800 to $5,000 or more for badly damaged homes, and you're in over your head if you see 10 or 12 inches of mold in a room.
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