Mold thrives in dark and damp places. After a flood or a fire, the conditions for mold growth are likely to be favorable. Getting rid of standing water and drying carpets might not take care of all water left behind after the washing machine leaks gallons of water onto the bathroom floor, for example. Any substantial amount of dampness on wood poses a risk of mold growth, which is why mold is a real risk in the wake of a house fire.
If your home or business has suffered a fire or any flooding, from leaky pipes or broken hoses, or a weather event, you may be at elevated risk of hidden mold outbreaks. To understand why mold is such an issue after a fire, it helps to understand how mold grows and spreads.
Mold is a generic name for a large class of fungi that thrive in damp environments. These single-celled organisms do important work in nature by breaking down organic materials like leaves and wood pulp. The natural activity of mold poses a real problem in homes and businesses because the mold will destroy any wood or wood products that it settles on. Mold also settles into porous materials like drywall and carpet or carpet backing.
Mold just needs water and oxygen to thrive. And, the spores can easily migrate anywhere in a home or business. This is why keeping areas dry is the best way to prevent mold growth at home.
Floods and broken pipes can introduce the water that mold needs to flourish, but other water sources are also enough. A leaking pipe in the wall that dampens wood or other materials in the home's frame can allow mold to grow. Water from a leaking dishwasher or an overflowing toilet can flow into places where normal water removal efforts are not enough. Mold spores that already exist in the room will find their way to hidden damp spots and attack the wood or other organic material. The conditions created by fighting a fire tend to be perfect for mold to grow in hidden places.
The Effects of Fire Damage on Mold Growth
Mold needs water and oxygen to grow. Fighting a fire in a home or business almost always involves using water to knock down the flames. The water will invariably get into the home's structure, under cabinets, in the subfloor, and so on. The water can be removed in various ways but this might take some time. Any mold spores in the building have time to get established and start multiplying before the fire-damaged area can be cleaned and dried thoroughly.
The process of fighting a fire almost always opens up new areas to water damage and subsequent problems that follow from having waterlogged walls, flooring, and framing timbers. Efforts to put out a fire tend to expose those things to water, and to mold. Firefighters routinely tear into walls to expose the full extent of fire. Much of this damage can be restored with considerable time and effort. What happens when you wait for the damage to be restored can easily create a mold problem.
Because any damp, porous material can become a home for mold spores, all of these newly exposed surfaces can become moldy. If vigorous efforts to dry out the area don't start immediately, a mold outbreak is likely. Any fire damage restoration project should include efforts to remove as much moisture as possible while also removing damaged furniture and anything with fire or smoke damage.
If your home has been flooded or suffered fire damage, and you detect signs of a mold outbreak, call on our mold remediation team as soon as you can.
Detecting a Mold Outbreak
A musty smell is one sign of mold growing undetected in a room's floor or walls. Less often, black stuff begins growing on the wall or floor, or ceiling. Visually inspect areas that have been damp or where there was standing water. You might be able to see black or gray patches of mold.
Sometimes respiratory problems stem from inhaling the spores. The symptoms of mold exposure include watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and sneezing. People with underlying conditions like asthma and COPD might see their symptoms getting worse because of mold exposure.
If you suspect mold or see potential mold damage, contact us so we can put our mold removal specialists to work on the problem.
Health Risks Posted by Mold
Mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 hours. This makes drying a waterlogged area an urgent task. Unfortunately, immediately after a fire, mold prevention is likely to be a low priority. In addition to the damage to wood or other organic materials, mold can also cause health problems or make them worse. For health reasons alone, mold remediation is something to take seriously.
Once mold takes root in part of a fire-damaged home, it can be difficult to get rid of without the right training and equipment. Simply bleaching the moly spot or spraying a bleach-based disinfectant will not work. You may create more spores and create a new problem. Mold spores can land and start growing anywhere they have water and oxygen. Attempting to remove mold and tear out damaged materials can spread mold.
Some fire damage restoration specialists will try to prevent mold by taking steps to dry out the area so any spores fail to take root and multiply. These damage restoration specialists would remove carpeting, waterlogged carpets, and wall coverings, furniture, area rugs, and other things that might grow mold.
If signs of mold appear after a fire, call in mold remediation experts to evaluate the affected areas and work on removing mold from any affected surfaces. In the wake of a fire, damage restoration specialists may try to prevent mold
Contact Your Local Mold Removal Specialists
Mold remediation is not a good do-it-yourself project. If you detect mold in your home or business, contact our damage restoration experts to evaluate your mold problem and take the necessary steps to prevent further damage.