The Most Often Asked Questions are:
What Can You Keep or Clean after Flood or Mold Problems? and What Needs Thrown Out?
Food items that have been in contact or stored in areas with mold or water damage should be thrown away. Add a period and exclamation point to this statement.
Materials that have a solid surface such as plastic, glass or metal and no electronics or foam padding are easily cleaned and preserved. Soap and water or a commercial disinfectant is the simplest cleaning method. A mixture of 1/4 cup of Clorox to a gallon of water is another way to disinfect the hard-surfaced materials. Warning: Do not use a higher concentration of Clorox as it can result in injury to people, pets and the items the mixture contacts.
The short story is if contents are porous and flood contaminated or moldy they will probably need thrown away. This includes cardboard, carpet, padding, stuffed animals and upholstered furnishings. Mattresses and box springs are on that list.
The paper materials that did not get wet or damp and do not have visible mold or damaged may be preserved with simply HEPA vacuuming. Most paper products including books will need thrown out once moldy or wet from flooding. For very valuable items such as a family bible, there is an expensive, but effective freeze-drying process that can preserve those items.
Clothing is eadily saved by washing in regular laundry detergent unless the fabric has been damaged. Mold will clean out of machine washable material. but damaged clothing is not restored to its original condition by washing.
Major and small appliances that have mold exposure but have not been under water may be saved with a professional cleaning. Consult a professional about these items. As an example, a hard drive may be removed from a computer and salvaged but could be damaged if the powered on with moldy electronics.
All appliances both big and small that have been under any water will need replaced. The cost of cleaning some of these items will often exceed the cost of replacement. Failure to clean these can result in fires, health hazards or recontamination of the home. Furnaces, hot water tanks, washing machines and the like are total losses if any part of the components have been under water.
When the Problem is “Just Mold, not Flooding”
Forced air furnaces can redistribute mold through an entire home after the property is cleaned. Furnace ductwork, blowers, cabinets need cleaned as a part of any mold remediation. Mold can and will live behind walls. Removal of house wall finishes may be required to get rid of the mold. If you do this work yourself, learn and follow the principals of containment, negative air and air scrubbing. Handling of mold contaminated materials should be done with personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye protection and masks.
There are materials used in the construction of homes that will require replacement as opposed to cleaning. Fiberboard, carpet and pad are examples. Some types of HVAC ductwork and insulation are other common examples.
Water events and ice buildups can result in damage to property, contents and occupant’s health. Professional advice that can save these materials is a bargain. Contact Inspector Lab to locate a mold expert near you. For a PDF print article on this subject, go to: https://goo.gl/FJvmDj