avoiding mold
Disaster Prep

Keeping Mold at Bay – Tips for Drying Your Home Out After Disaster Strikes

After the stress of flooding or water damage happens in your home, the last thing you want is for your house to develop a problem with mold. Find out tips on how to avoid mold now.

Responding Quickly to Prevent Mold Disasters in the Home

Flooding is one issue, but mold accumulating in the home is another. After the stress of flooding or water damage happens in your home, the last thing you want is for your house to develop a problem with mold.

By being proactive and working to dry out your home within the first 48 hours of water damage, you have a much better chance of avoiding mold and salvaging your belongings. Here’s what you need to do when disaster strikes and flooding happens in your house.

avoiding mold

Remove Standing Water First

First of all, if your home has any standing water, you will want to pump it out as soon as possible. Using a sump pump (a submersible pump), you can place the machine underwater and it will pump the water out of the house through a hose. Sump pumps can be rented or purchased, often costing less than $100.

Improve Air Circulation Immediately

Good air flow helps to dry out the space once you’ve removed any standing water. Simply opening windows and doors can help to naturally bring some of the moisture out of the house and out of your personal items like furniture. You can also turn on the fans in your house to push the air through mechanically and encourage better air circulation. Mold is more likely to form in stagnant air so this airflow can help to combat its growth.

Dehumidify the Home

If your home is damp and dank after disaster, using a dehumidifier can help bring the air quality back to normal and prevent mold from forming. When using a dehumidifier, you will need to close the windows and doors of the targeted room in order for the device to have the desired effect and regulate the air.

avoiding mold

Separate Sopping Wet Items

For belongings that are truly soaked, it’s a good idea to remove them from the house entirely. By placing sopping wet items outside or in the garage, they are more likely to dry out and less likely to support the growth of mold in your house. These items may be harder to salvage, and may require professional drying or cleaning.

Removing Dampness From Your Belongings

Using a shop-grade vacuum, you can suck the water out of carpets and rugs. A household vacuum is typically not up to task, and may be badly damaged by trying to use it, so renting or purchasing this type of vacuum is a better long-term investment.

Dry Out the Walls

Cutting small holes out along the base of affected walls can help to dry out the different layers of the wall itself. Mold can grow unseen inside the walls, so making sure that air circulation is able to reach these areas is important for prevention of mold growth.

avoiding mold

Hire a Mold Inspector

Once you’ve dried out your things, you may want to seek out a professional mold inspector. Even without water damage, mold can proliferate unseen and unknown in the house. Steve Stockburger of Mold Inspection Sciences recommends that, “Any time there’s been a moisture intrusion or water has affected building materials, we recommend having an inspection done. If nothing else, it’s important just to make sure that the potential for hidden mold growth is discovered.”

Even if the mold is imperceptible, it still can have a huge effect on you and your family’s health. Mold is especially toxic to people with asthma or other respiratory issues. Calling a mold inspector can safeguard your family’s health and lungs. Stockburger also recommends that homeowners find a standalone inspection company. “We don’t do the remediation or removal of mold,” he says, “because there’s often a conflict of interest, so going with a company that doesn’t also do the remediation side of things may be in a homeowner’s best interest.”

Proactive Drying Can Help Prevent Mold

After disaster strikes, be prepared to quickly strike back. It is the general consensus that mold can potentially begin growing after the first 24 or 48 hours of water exposure. Getting rid of floodwater and moisture as soon as possible is necessary in order to catch mold before it grows.

Don’t let the disaster get the best of you. By confronting flooding or water damage, you can prevent mold from developing to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

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Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.

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