Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return

Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return
High River residents will never forget the grim sight of flood-stained refuse lining the streets, but although it’s in the landfill, basements are gutted and the attention is now on rebuilding, yet another remediation company is stressing the importance of the job being done right.(Kevin Rushworth, High River Times)
Recently, the High River Times ran a story-Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return-to explain why mold is still a problem, even after an initial clean up.
Rushworth interviewed our founder and President, James C. Watson, and the Managing Partner of Got Mold? Disaster Recovery Services (AB) Inc., James Zolkavich.
According to Watson:
You need to make sure that everything is dry, clean and free of sewage contamination before putting anything back together. If you start putting insulation, vapour barrier and drywall up (before it’s dry), then in a few months or years, there’s going to be major concerns down there.
The key is to ensure that the home is clean and dry. If a rebuild is done and there are still underlying moisture or contamination issues, then mold could come back and haunt you, resulting in further costs to remediate the mold issues.
During the flood restoration process, many companies moved into High River and began offering services and may not have ensured that the job was done correctly and professionally. This is the reason, according to Watson that:
Right now we’re receiving calls from individuals who have issues where they don’t feel their basement has been cleaned up properly.
A specific case was pointed out by Zolkavich who met with a woman who had her home remediated, but is not sure if a proper job was done. According to Zolkavich:
She still has some mold in her basement; there’s still some mud in there from sewer back up, so she has to spend another several thousand dollars to finish up her basement just so it’s done 100 per cent correct.
Both Watson and Zolkavich believe all residents should:
Have a Third Party Verify the work. In short, invest in Third Party Verification. This will save you time and money in the long run.
One of the key steps in Third Party Verification is air quality sampling. In Watson’s words:
There’s mold spores everywhere, indoors and outdoors, but the biggest thing that people should be aware of is having air quality sampling done. The only way to determine a normal fungal ecology is to compare the outdoor air to the indoor air.
Another problem Watson and Zolkavich are encountering is sewage contamination, which is a concern particularly if the homeowner’s insurance already paid a restoration contractor to clean the area.
We’re going in and we’re testing some places where they had reliable, trust worthy or suspected trust worthy insurance restoration contractors come in and do clean ups. We take swab samples for sewage contamination to find out if there’s e.coli and fecal matter on the walls and floors from an improper clean up and those test results are coming back positive for contamination.
Both Watson and Zolkavich understand residents wanting to get back into their homes, but that if it’s not been cleaned properly, there will be more hurt down the road. The key is to get the job done right in the first place to avoid further problems in the future.
Mike Holmes, Canada’s most respected contractor, believes that patience is the key to ensuring the job is done right correctly as well:
Holmes labeled three stages in which problems could and have occurred. The first was the initial flood and the second was the clean up. Finally, there’s the fall out afterwards, he noted. “The fall out is going to be big because a lot of families want to get back to normality and they’re going to push contractors to get this job done so they can get back into their home,” he said. A lot of steps are being missed, Holmes explained, stating that if your house has had mold, an air test is crucial. If mold stretches past ten square feet, residents require a professional mold abatement company. “My biggest concern and we’re going to see this and you’re going to hear about it, are the people who close up too quickly in the wrong conditions,” he said. All moisture levels must be at a maximum of 15 per cent, Holmes said. If dry walling occurs too quickly, mold could grow behind the walls again. “The concrete is going to hold the most moisture and then transfer it through to the wood,” he said. “For every single family who closes up their basement above 15 per cent moisture content, all of it will be coming down again.” After the green light is given for air testing, the moisture levels must be checked, Holmes said. He said it’s crucial to gain proper documentation that remediation companies are performing the correct steps. “As long as you’re part of that and you’re there, odds are you’re going to have a green light and know that your home is safe to start to put back together,” he noted. “You don’t have to stand there and watch the air test guy,” he said. “You want to see the paper work; you want to talk to the people who give you the right information.” Holmes said the large-scale devastation creates two problems; one, people are impatient and secondly, there’s not enough businesses who can come and clean it up. “It’s not just mold, it’s a future of problems and it all stems to one thing, patience,” Holmes said, noting that problems can be alleviated in the building phase. Holmes said everything will be safe if people follow the correct remediation protocol and have documentation that it’s been done correctly. “More than anything, it’s having the patience to do it,” he said.(Holmes stresses importance of patience in High River rebuild)