Mold is a real problem in American homes and businesses today. As the health risks of toxic mold become clearer and better understood, people are looking for ways to eradicate mold infestations of all types and sizes.
One of the first questions that arises when people learn about how damaging mold can be (and suspect their home or business may be infested) is this: Can I clean it myself, or do I have to call in a professional? If it’s just a small infestation, isn’t DIY just as effective—not to mention cheaper—than calling in a team of people in Hazmat suits?
The truth is, there are situations in which DIY can be an effective path toward clearing up mold. There are also situations were professional service is the only viable option, and there are a number of situations in between. So how do you know which path to take?
It depends on the type of mold
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out, mold comes in many types and colors. The most harmful types of mold contain mycotoxins that pose serious risks to human health. These are referred to as “toxic” molds.
To make things more complicated, there are five different types of toxic mold: Stachybotrys, Penicilium, Fusarium, Cladosporium and Aspergillus. It’s also a mistake to think that only black mold is toxic.
The point is, unless you’re planning on becoming an expert in identifying what kind of mold you’re dealing with, it’s very difficult to know whether the mold in your home is one of the five toxic varieties or not. Even if you know for a fact that you don’t have toxic mold, it remains a fact that every type of mold can be hazardous to your health with prolonged exposure.
Going the DIY route can be a good first step if the following conditions are met:
You haven’t noticed any strong, musty odors
You haven’t had excessive water leakage in your home or business
The mold only appears in one small area
The surface on which the mold is growing is not porous
You use a product specifically manufactured for attacking mold and follow directions closely
If these conditions are not met, it’s probably best to consult a professional for a detail assessment of the problem.
It also depends on the size of the infestation
If mold is visible in several areas of your home, or is visible across a large surface area, the case for DIY mold removal becomes exponentially weaker. Fighting a serious infestation is an uphill battle without the proper knowledge and equipment. The time and money spent trying to remove mold can easily surpass the cost of professional mold remediation.
There’s also the question of invisible mold. In the majority of cases, when mold is growing in several areas or across a large surface area, it’s also growing in unseen areas (behind walls, under the floors, etc.). This means that even if you remove the visible mold, the colony is only suffering a setback. Unless the colony is eradicated completely and prevention measures are undertaken, it will regroup.
The bottom line
For small infestations in homes where conditions are not optimal for growing mold (e.g. poor ventilation, excessive water leakage, humidity), using DIY methods to remove mold can be an immediate and effective way to address the problem. However, mold is resilient and will take every opportunity to spread and grow if given half a chance. Professional removal specializes in assessing the full scope of the problem and eradicating mold colonies completely.
We hope this post has helped you to better understand the mold issues you may face as a home or business owner. Please feel free to leave your questions or comments below.