Hurricane Florence impacted more homes than Hurricane Matthew. Here’s some tips on gutting and reducing mold in your home.
— Take pictures of all your belongings that are damaged by water and mold. When in doubt, throw it all away.
— Have your insurance company send an assessor or claims adjuster to your home as soon as possible. Each day that you wait to remove wet materials and moisture, your house becomes more and more toxic due to rapidly growing mold.
— Immediately wash all clothing and cloth that is saved, even if it doesn’t smell. Mold spores are not visible and travel through the air.
— Use waterproof gloves and boots if floors and belongings are still wet. Use eye protection as well. Wear OSHA certified, N95 mold masks if mold is already present or suspected. A dust mask will not protect you from mold spores. Wear long pants and shirts to prevent contact with water on your skin.
— Open all the windows and leave them open. Use fans to help ventilate the house and dry it out. Place at least one fan in a window to remove smells, mold spores, and for cross-ventilation. Also place fans in your crawl space if you have or can purchase additional ones. If you have or can purchase a dehumidifier, use it.
— Taking everything wet out of the house immediately, particularly furniture, carpet, padding, paper, wood floors, Sheetrock, wall paper, and insulation.
— Cut out all Sheetrock at least 18 inches above where mold has formed. If possible, use a moisture meter to determine moisture level on all materials, including floor joists. Typically, if moisture level is higher than 14 to 16, mold will grow in warm weather.
— Treat all material with mold with a certified mold reducing chemical. Bleach will not kill mold.
Sustainable Sandhills is partnering with the Robeson County Disaster Recovery Committee to hold regular mold workshops over the next few months. The first one will is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 3, in Lumberton, time and place to be announced. Free supplies will be provided. Workshops can be scheduled in other areas of Robeson County as well. Call Sustainable Sandhills at 910-484-9098 to register for the workshop or to hold a mold workshop in your community or neighborhood. Leave a message if you receive the recording.
If you’d like to learn more, read the free EPA Mold Course available free online at https://www.epa.gov/mold/take-mold-course.
Mac Legerton is the executive director for the Center for Community Action.