Mould spores love dark, damp environments and the aftermath of a flood or water leak can create an ideal environment for their proliferation within your walls, floors, carpet, and other materials that may contain cellulose or organic fibers. In addition to being unsightly and smelly, mould can pose legitimate health hazards ranging from breathing and skin irritations to (in rare cases) life-threatening infections. Taking the time to educate yourself on how to prevent mould after a flood or on ways to prevent mould after a water leak can pay off in the long run as you know how to combat and protect yourself from these persistent pains.
Mould Growth and You
It is important to always be aware of how fast mould can grow after a water leak or flood situation. The general rule of thumb for remediators is that spores can start propagating within the first 24 to 48 hours, which is why time is often of the essence. Since spores are not normally visible to the naked eye, it can take some time for mould to develop to the point where it can easily be spotted. Growth rates will vary by circumstance and the specific type of mould, so visible appearance can take as little as 48 hours or up to 20 days or more.
The point of all this is to emphasize that even if you can’t see mould, it may still be present, which is why taking steps to prevent mould growth after water damage is so important.
As mentioned, mould exposure can provoke a series of skin and respiratory ailments that can pose a nuisance and legitimate quality-of-life issues. In an otherwise healthy individual, these symptoms can resemble those of a cold or of seasonal allergies, with the distinguishing factor that leaving your home causes symptoms to decrease. Possible signs include:
- Sore and/or red eyes
- Itchy skin
- Runny or congested nose
- Sore Throat
- Asthma-like symptomsAnyone with pre-existing respiratory ailments or a weakened immune system is going to be more vulnerable to mould spores and may be at risk of developing further infections.
Even if mould growth doesn’t cause you any physical symptoms, your nose can still pick up on its presence. Mould has a distinctive musty and, for lack of a better word, “mouldy” smell to it that will get worse the closer you are to the source. If the mouldy smell increases when the AC or heater are on, then this suggests spores have taken up residence in your HVAC systems.
You can also see mould once it grows past a certain point, though not everyone realizes it right away. Mould does not immediately appear as some fuzzy, green or black blotch. The visual signs may start as something as innocuous as small specs on the grout between tiles that are easily dismissed as minor bits of dirt.
Steps to Prevent Mould after Water Damage
Whether you are dealing with a leak or a full-on flood, prompt action is always advisable in order to minimize the chance of mould growing. Cleaning up after a flood is hard enough without worrying about spores spreading about, so consider these tips part of ensuring peace of mind and securing your property.
1. Water Extraction and Drying
It should go without saying that you can’t prevent mould if there’s still water and dampness to get in the way. How you go about this depends on the severity and location of the water damage. A wet/dry vacuum can be rented from remediation companies or a hardware store to help remove standing water and dehumidifiers and fans can be set up afterwards to further dry out the area.
2. Keep the Fans and Dehumidifiers Running!
Whether you are drying drywall after water damage or looking to evaporate any infiltrations into the floorboards, a mix of fans and dehumidifiers can help in this task. In addition to helping dry out your home, they are also good for thwarting mould spores. Fans do this by continually circulating fresh air and dehumidifiers by removing ambient moisture from the air—mould can sometimes grow off humidity alone in the right conditions.
Keep both devices running at least 48 hours to ensure maximum effectiveness. As for how long you should run a fan or dehumidifier after a flood, the answer will depend on how deep the water was able to infiltrate and the size of the room. Several days to a week at minimum is a good baseline to use.
3. Inspect Carpets
Wet carpets pose particular mould dangers since they are a smorgasbord of fibres and cellulose that can easily suck up water and become saturated. In case of a flood or water damage, taking steps to get rid of mould under carpets—or preventing mould from appearing—is highly important. With prompt drying and a good steam cleaning for sanitization, some carpets and rugs may be salvageable and can be reused. However, most water-damaged carpet padding will need to be removed and replaced.
4. Get a Professional
Professional water damage restoration and remediation specialists are trained and experienced in water extraction, drying and salvaging property, and mould prevention and removal strategies. While you may have never dealt with a flood situation before, these teams can lend their consummate expertise to get your property dried out and mould-free in short order. Many also help with the insurance process, should you need to invoke your policy.
Contact Flood Services Canada for Professional Mould Cleanup and Restoration
Prompt and timely action is critical to stop mould in its tracks. Contact professional water damage remediation specialists as soon as you can to minimize harm and maximize how much damage can be prevented. Flood Services Canada’s quick response teams of professional remediators will drain, dry, and save your property.
Contact us at 416-302-2107 for more information about mould prevention and restoration, or use our emergency hotline at 416-999-3930 to get our rapid-response teams deployed to your location.