Tips to Avoid Structural Mold

Top Ten Tips to Avoid Structural Mold from Spring Flooding

Nonprofit Contact Person: Doug Hoffman
877.251.2296 ext. 876

April 22, 2013 (Abita Springs, LA)

A few simple steps can save property owners thousands of dollars of damage due to structural mold growth, according to Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (, a nonprofit organization involved in providing training and certifications for mold and indoor air quality professionals.
Taking the necessary steps to avoid structural mold growth will not only preserve the integrity of a building but also the health of its occupants, further explains Kurt and Lee Ann Billings, authors

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Mold infe...
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Mold infestations in bedroom of home in Carrollton neighborhood. House did not flood and had minor exterior damage, but small leaks during the storm plus being vacant for weeks resulted in homeowners returning to this scene. Photo by Infrogmation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

of the book MOLD: The War Within, which details lessons learned from Katrina. Disaster area residents must be proactive, act quickly, and use proper personal protection equipment when implementing the following ten steps:

  1. Remove any standing water-use a pump or a wet vac.
  2. Remove wet carpets, rugs, draperies and personal belongings. Clear mud and debris from floors and foundation walls to allow the subflooring and foundation to dry.
  3. Remove and discard water-saturated sheetrock and insulation-18 inches above the highest watermark to increase structural drying. Remove water-damaged flexible ductwork.
  4. Remove all mold growth on remaining structural building materials-by mechanical means or complete removal if necessary. The easiest and most effective way to initially clean mold from structural building materials is with the use of a commercial wet/dry HEPA vacuum, followed by wiping, scrubbing, scrapping or sanding for complete removal.
  5. Don’t use bleach to clean mold-it is an effective sanitizer but will not remove mold at its “root”. The mold will look like its gone but it won’t be.
  6. Use sanitizers-on any portion of the structure contaminated by sewage or flood waters.
  7. Dry the structure out as quickly as possible-as structural mold will begin to form in the first 24-48 hours. As soon as the above removal steps are completed, turn up the heat, circulate the air with fans, and use a dehumidifier to keep the indoor humidity below 60 percent. Hot, dry air dries things faster than cold moist air. If there’s no electricity, open windows and doors to get air moving to speed up the drying process.
  8. Check your attic-undetected roof leaks can become big structural mold problems later.
  9. Inspect windows on the outside of the structure-check for damaged caulking and seals that could lead to future water leaks.
  10. Don’t seal it up until its dry-siding, sheetrock, and flooring repairs should be done only after the substrates are completely dry. Confirm moisture content by using a moisture meter.

For more information on water damage and flood resources, please see or to locate a certified mold inspector or remediator in your area, log onto or call 1.877.251.2296.Tips


Molds are fungi found both indoor and outdoors under certain circumstances due to dampness.  An estimate range of species of fungi from tens of thousands to perhaps 300,000 or more.  They gorw best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores.  They even survive under harsh environmental dry conditions, in a dormant state.  Some common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys atra (chartarum).  Molds themselves are not toxic, but they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins).

Stachybotrys atra (chartarum), a greenish-black mold that may be the cause of
sick building syndrome, produces  the toxin trichothecenes.  But it is not the only fungi.  There are four other genera of fungi–Fusarium, Tricothecium, Myrothecium, and Cephalosporium.  Regardless, since it takes expertise to identify the fungi, it is important to treat all indoor fungi with equal importance–elimination.

A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home.

 In 2009, the World Health Organization issued guidelines for indoor and outdoor dampness and mold (view PDF link below).  Recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.

EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) provides a brief guide to mold, moisture, and your home:

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