This has been a record-breaking year for flooding throughout Canada. In many areas, homeowners have struggled through days or weeks of cleanup, enduring displacement, emotional distress, and high costs for remediation and repair.
Whenever there is a water breach, mould is always a danger. Mould is fast-growing and fast-spreading. The moment a single mould colony establishes itself, it begins to send out small messengers called “spores.” The spores are airborne, but they will travel only until they find another suitable spot to land and grow a new mould colony.
If mould wasn’t so toxic and unwelcome, it might be considered quite amazing. After all, a mould colony can begin to grow and replicate itself in less than 24 hours after a flooding rainstorm. It can grow practically anywhere, including on fabric, drywall, wood, tiles, cardboard, and carpet.
And mould isn’t always easy to spot, until the colony has become well established (it tends to be easier to smell than see). In this article, we review what to do if your home and indoor air is impacted by mould.
The Health Hazards of Mould
There is no such thing as “non-toxic mould.” All mould is toxic. The more mould there is, the more toxic it becomes, but even very small amounts can deliver potent health hazards.
The Ontario Lung Association reports a series of common symptoms that can arise after mould exposure:
- Respiratory distress, including allergies and sinus infections
- Irritation to the eyes, nasal passages, and skin
- Lung inflammation and infection
- Asthma episodes
- Increased allergies
- Chest tightness and shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Flu-type symptoms
- Coughing, wheezing, spitting up phlegm/mucus
- Feelings of fatigue
Identifying Mould Colonies
Because mould can be challenging to identify visually in the earliest hours after flooding, the more information you have about where mould grows and telltale signs of its presence, the easier it will be to find it.
Health Canada offers these helpful tips about spotting new mould colonies:
- Look for any areas in your home compromised by moisture. Condensation, standing water, stains, discoloured fabrics or flooring, and small leaks and drips are all good warning signs.
- Any kind of musty, grassy, stale, or “old” odour can also be an indication that mould is starting to grow.
- Patches of white (mildew), brown, green, or black on walls, tiles, flooring, grout, windowsills, and elsewhere are indications that a mould colony could be present.
Tackling Mould Cleanup
If you can dry your home out quickly, you will have a better chance of containing indoor mould growth. But remember, mould primarily travels by air, so you will need to clean more than just the floors and walls to keep the mould out for good.
- This first step is often the hardest, because you need to discard anything that has been impacted by moisture or mould, including treasured clothing, art, books, and furnishings and even mattresses and pillows.
- Next, you can begin to dry out compromised areas using air conditioning, dehumidification and plenty of ventilation.
- A HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner is the only safe way to vacuum carpeting or flooring inside a flooded home.
- You can clean smaller mould colonies (those less than 3 meters), but for larger areas, it is better to hire a professional remediation company.
Make Sure the Mould Stays Gone for Good
Here are seven key ways to keep mould out of your home for good!
- Install a heat recovery ventilator (air exchanger) to keep the humidity inside your home balanced and mould-intolerant.
- Retrofit your HVAC unit duct system with a HEPA whole home filter to catch even the smallest mould spores as they try to pass through.
- Convert permanently to a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA-rated filter to clean carpets and flooring.
- Schedule a professional cleaning for your air duct system and your dryer vents. This will securely remove and sanitize your home from remaining mould spores.
- Have any mattresses you plan to keep professionally cleaned.
- Choose new home furnishings with care, including flooring, paneling, furniture, carpeting, blinds, drapes, paints and primers, stains and varnishes. Many of these items contain formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic gases that can pollute your indoor air further.
- Use an air purifier to literally neutralize remaining mould spores as they pass through.
Consider a Timely HVAC Upgrade
Depending on the cause of your home’s mould outbreak, you may be entitled to some compensation through disaster relief grants or subsidies, or payouts through your homeowner’s insurance or overland flood insurance policy.
This can be a good time to consider upgrading your HVAC to one that is HEPA-rated (MERV 16 through 20).
Not only can this circumvent the need to install a HEPA whole home filtration system that can work with your existing HVAC unit, but you will also benefit from the considerable energy efficiency advantages that can lower your monthly utility bills.
According to the Energy Star program, if your HVAC unit is 10 years old or older, you could save up to 20 percent on your cooling and heating expenses annually by replacing it with a new energy-efficient combo.
Give Us a Call and Save 20 Percent on Mould Prevention Equipment
How would you like to save 20 percent on a whole home HEPA filtration system, whole home humidifier, whole home ultraviolet filtration system or whole home heat recovery ventilator?
If this sounds good, now is the time to take advantage of the savings, during our Breathe Clean Air Event! Right now, save 20 percent on any of these powerful air quality aids and wave goodbye to the threat of household mould forever!
Give us a call at 905-544-2470 or fill out this simple online form to claim your discount!