The painful truth is that even a minor water damage problem can lead to major issues. So, it can be especially distressing if storm damage causes severe flooding in your home or office. Indoor flooding can come in many forms other than simply stormwater. Even seemingly simple things like leaky pipes, dripping appliances, damaged gutters, roof leaks, and sewer backups can lead to significant water damage as well as an increased risk of indoor mold developing.
When flooding or water damage strikes, your first priority has to be stopping the leak or minimizing the amount of water making its way into your home or office. The next step is to contact a professional flood cleanup and restoration service to start the drying and cleanup process as soon as humanly possible.
The Connection Between Water Damage & Indoor Mold
Water is the universal solvent and can damage a wide range of materials all on its own. Beyond what it can do to flooring, carpeting, and electronics, one of the most concerning things about water damage is that it greatly increases the risk of indoor mold developing.
Mold spores live naturally in the air around you. When they settle on a moist surface in warm conditions, these microscopic mold spores can germinate into an active mold colony with alacrity. Some strains can go from spore to an active colony in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
What Do When Cleaning Up Water Damage
Once you stop the influx of water, you need to move toward damage prevention. Turning off all the power and shutting down the plumbing coming into the building is a wise first step to reduce the risk of electrocution and further water damage.
While assessing the damage, be sure to take a copious number of pictures with your phone or a digital camera. These images may come in handy later when filing a flood damage claim with your insurance provider, or for assessing the severity of liability if the water damage was someone else’s fault.
Wait For Clearance To Cleanup
Depending on the source of the water damage you might need to wait for clearance from the local municipalities before cleaning up. This is more likely to be the case if the water damage is associated with a sewer backup, storm sewer overflow, or a widespread natural disaster.
Once you have been assured by the powers that be that it is safe to go back into the flooded building, you can start taking steps to salvage valuables. Just be sure to photograph everything before removing it, as well as photographing it afterward.
This includes wearing protective gear such as:
- Rubber boots
- A mask or ventilator
- A vest, apron, or other protective clothing
Dry Out Water Damage & Remove Humidity
When it comes to the threat of indoor mold, it’s important to bear in mind that mold can exploit high humidity just as well as water-saturated materials. While a basic sump pump from the hardware store and a shop vac might be sufficient for removing the bulk of the water from your flooded home or office, it likely won’t be sufficient for preventing humidity complications.
Strategically placing dehumidifiers and using commercial-grade fans or other air-moving devices will go a long way toward extracting humidity from surfaces before mold spores have a chance to exploit the available moisture.
Remove & Dispose Of Saturated Materials
It can be hard to assess what needs to be removed and what can stay after a flood event or incident that causes water damage. You need to assess not only the visibly obvious damage to things like carpets woodwork, flooring, and furniture, but you also need to determine what other less visible areas might also still harbor water deposits.
This includes areas that might be hard to access such as basement crawlspaces, an attic where a roof leak occurred, or inside the building’s primary wet wall that carries the bulk of the plumbing pipes.
Things that typically need to be removed from the site during water damage cleanup:
- Wet carpeting & underlayment
- Throw rugs & floor mats
- Wet furniture
- Soaked or damp drywall
- Water damaged wallpaper
- Saturated woodwork
- Upholstered furniture
- Other saturated porous materials
By removing wet or otherwise damp porous materials you effectively reduce the available mediums that mold spores can exploit to develop into an active colony.
How Long After Water Damage Cleanup Does Mold Start To Appear?
With some aggressive strains of mold, with ideal warm conditions and moist porous material available the transition from spores to an active colony can occur in as little as 24 to 48 hours. Though most people who suffer a water damage incident in their home or office will notice mold problems occurring in vulnerable areas within 2 weeks.
Though this is not to say that mold can’t develop after that initial two-week window. A mold colony can be slow to develop or go into dormancy during dry weather. Then when the ambient conditions become warm and humid again, it suddenly springs to life with ferocity. This is even more likely to be an issue in less visible areas like a basement crawlspace or an attic.
A Proactive Strategy For Mold Prevention After Water Damage
It’s best to take a proactive approach toward preventing long-term recurring mold problems after flooding or some other type of water damage. This starts with calling in professionals like Building Services Inc. to help remove water and dry out the structure as soon as possible.
You then need to be absolutely relentless about removing any saturated porous materials. Any early signs of mold developing after a water damage event need to be dealt with in short order. If you feel that you lack the training, cleaning products, or necessary equipment to eliminate the mold, a professional should handle the mold cleanup and remediation as soon as possible.
Any structural flaws in the building that contributed to the water damage need to be dealt with immediately. This might include repairing gutters, fixing cracks in the foundation, or updating the building’s plumbing.
You should also consider applying mold preventive solutions to any vulnerable areas. Strategically placing dehumidifiers in vulnerable locations such as crawlspaces and attics during the summer months will also help with humidity management.