How Do You Prevent Mold After Water Damage?

keep mold away after water damage

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Natural disasters are a dangerous thing. There’s nothing we can do about them, and they can destroy our lives. Some things happen that we can’t control, whether it's a volcanic eruption, terrible storm, or earthquake. Flooding can occur with storms, whether a bad thunderstorm or an inbound hurricane. Flooding can be terrible, but the water is only the first part of your woes. Walls can be coated with mold up to the ceiling, and the ceiling might have water damage.

The time after the flood is one of the more crucial parts of saving your possessions and home. Many things can still be recovered if you work quickly enough, but one of the main things you must worry about is Mold. Mold can ruin things further than the water already has, destroying the things that can be saved. It can be a real trial to get through something as destructive as a flood, but anyone can rebuild, and sometimes, that's exactly what needs to happen.

What is Mold?

Mold is a multi-cellular fungus that has thousands of species around the world. Some molds can be used for food, cooking, and even medicine. However, out of the thousands of types, only a few can affect humans and make them sick, mostly because they are prone to places humans inhabit. Some of these molds can grow in your house. Your home, moisture, and heat are ideal environments for fungal proliferation. This means that if you live in a warm, humid area like the South, it is quite likely you might have mold spores in your home all the time, just waiting on the right conditions to grow.

Since mold is a fungus, it produces spores that can be transferred through the air. Breathing these spores can cause a lot of problems for anyone. It is not a pleasant smell and can be frightening to look at. Mold can spread easily, growing on many different surfaces. It is also difficult to get rid of, considering it can regrow if you don’t remove all the spores and the moisture and humidity issues under control.

Mold Health Risks from Water Damage

Those with sensitivity to mold can suffer from constant symptoms, including constant headaches, depression, and chronic fatigue. This is on top of the respiratory problems. There have been reports that people have died from mold infestations as well. People with pre-existing health concerns can develop worsening or other health problems. This is especially true when considering adolescents and children.

Even people without sensitivity to mold can suffer from things like chronic headaches with mold around. While sensitivity is one thing, some people can also have allergic reactions to mold. This includes sneezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory problems. Our immune system tries to fight off the spores, making it harder for us to function. That’s why we get runny noses, itchy skin or throat, rashes, and sometimes swollen air passages.

We're always inhaling mold spores, a matter of the concentration you are inhaling. Most do not know that a mold test is a test that checks the quality of indoor air. The mold hygienist first does a thorough inspection, then if needed, a mold test (air quality test) that is tested in a lab. They are looking at the number of spores present. This is how they know if you are infested. This means that even if there is no visible mold, it's still there, likely inside the wall, and there's probably a lot of it. If the mold hygienist does the test, he already suspects mold.

Prevent Mold After Water Damage

Sanitation is one of the most important things to do after a flood. The growth of microbes, like mold, is inevitable regarding moisture, an organic food source, and a surface to thrive on. While restorers and mold inspectors use antimicrobial technology, there are ways to get around using it if you choose the DIY route.

You can order a mold test kit and do that yourself, but you could get false positives or negatives if you do it wrong. Sometimes, spending a little more on professional testing is smarter and safer. Why do we suggest this course of action? Because if you do the test incorrectly, you lose with either outcome.

  • If it comes back negative and you have mold issues, it will do nothing but make matters worse.
  • If it comes back positive and you have no mold issue, you spend a lot of money and time destroying your home to clean and repair it when it is 100% safe.

Stop the Source of Moisture Coming In

This is the first step you should take before doing anything else. You can’t disinfect something if the water is still coming in. If your house has flooded, ensure you get everything you can above it and out of your home. This can take some time, but you have to stop the water from coming in.

Remove Contaminated Materials and Items that Cannot Be Restored.

Unfortunately, not everything can be saved. Many things should be considered when trying to save or restore items. Furniture, carpeting, drywall, food, and medicine should be documented and thrown out. These items can be replaced, so there’s no sense in endangering you or your family with the possibility of mold growth.

Dry and Sanitize What Items You Can

On the other hand, many things can be salvaged after water damage. It is important to get everything you can, considering mold can grow on anything with nutrients (organic matter). Leaving things wet can cause moisture to get deep into the item. Things like flooring and carpets can easily be dried and sanitized to save them as long as it's not flooded heavily with grey water or blackwater, but it has to be done quickly. Wood is porous, but even wood can be saved if dried properly and treated with a waterproof sealant or encapsulated with the correct chemicals and solutions.

To complete the drying process, you'll need several box fans or blowers to keep airflow as much. This creates friction, which makes the correct environment to evaporate the moisture. It would also be helpful to have a dehumidifier to remove the vaporized moisture from the area involved. We need to cover specifics with the carpet since you must extract as much water as possible.

A Rug Doctor rental or a carpet cleaner like a Bissell pet carpet cleaner will help. Run it dry and extract it from the carpet until it's getting no water. Then set up fans, as many as you can run. Set them up to create a vortex in the room. In other words, they all need to point in a circle around the room, moving the air in a circular motion. Act like you're creating a mini indoor tornado in the room. Once the main area is dry, point the fans at the walls to ensure all the carpet near the walls dries properly. It's the hardest area to dry properly.

If your home is on a chain wall instead of a concrete slab, you'll also need fans or blowers in the crawl space to dry that area. If the house has a raised foundation, you can bet that the wood substructure is also wet below the carpet. Wood is a prime food source for mold. Make sure you dry this thoroughly.

Understanding dampness detection tools is key to managing home moisture levels. A moisture meter is an invaluable tool for this purpose. Test your home's moisture content with it; if it reads above 15%, there's a wood rot and mold growth risk. These meters are affordable and user-friendly, typically found at big box building suppliers and online retailers like Amazon, Lowes, or Home Depot, usually priced under $50. Still, prices can reach hundreds of dollars. I purchased mine for around $45, including sales tax, and it has been a reliable asset for over a decade. The Amazon link above is an updated version of the one I own..

Leave It For a Professional

If you’re unsure that you can get your items properly sanitized or saved, don’t second-guess yourself. Professional flood damage contractors can handle structural drying and water extraction, blowers, dehumidifiers, mold remedial services, and restorers available. They are trained to do the things that you need in this situation. They employ antimicrobial technology, various tools, machines, and all the proper chemicals, such as encapsulation formulas, to assist with these things. They know how to use them effectively.


Cleaning is hard work, especially after a flood. Water damage is a serious issue for your home and auto, and it can lead to a lot of mold and mildew infestation if you don’t take care of it immediately when you can. Remember never to enter flood water, considering there can be other dangerous things. After all, microbes aren’t the only thing you have to worry about. Mold can grow quickly on recently damaged items and walls if you don’t clean them; sometimes, there isn’t any way to save some things.

Plenty of things remain salvageable regarding water damage, especially if you have proper coverage. Restoration is a slow, tedious process, but it can be done. Call a professional if you’re unsure about getting mold out of your house. Otherwise, sanitize, clean, and dry as much as you can. A flood can be detrimental and has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes throughout America. Everyone can rebuild, but be sure to keep your safety and health in mind.

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