Dealing with mold after a flood or sprinkler disaster

How do you identify mold or potential for mold when coming back to your office after a disaster?

Things that stayed wet for 2 days have mold growing on them even if you can’t see it.

Sight – are the walls or ceiling discolored or do they show signs of mold growth or water damage?
Smell – Do you smell a bad odor, such as musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?
If yes to either it’s mold!

More tips:

  • Mold can look grey, black or even brown. Mold colonies may appear cottony, velvety, granular, leathery or glassy.
  • Mold will begin to grow on most surfaces after just 24 hours in a damp environment.
  • Certified/licensed mold inspectors are available in most communities.
  • The color of mold does not impact the choice of mold cleaner, the cleaning methods are the same.

Does bleach help kill mold?

Yes. Use bleach to clean mold off hard things, like floors,desktops,  sinks, countertops, flatware, plates and tools. Items soaked with water such as fabric, window treatments, carpet, etc. have to be discarded.

More tips:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
  • Mix no more then 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
  • If the surface is rough, scrub with a stiff brush.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Dry the item or leave it out to dry
  • Take out items that have soaked up water and that cannot be cleaned and dried, carpet, clothing, mattresses, furniture, all other items that cannot be disinfected. Flood waters generally have sewage so take protective precautions.

How do you dispose of ruined furniture, carpet, clothing, etc. safely?

Generally, in an area where many homes have been affected, by taking the contaminated items to the curb for a solid waste pick-up. Disposal at the local landfill or local solid waste facility is the safest method. Even calling the local solid waste office for information on having the items safely removed if the damage only affects a single home.

Wear protective boots, gloves, mask, and eye protection during this phase and all phases of cleanup to removal.

Author: Victor Janulaitis

M. Victor Janulaitis is the CEO of Janco Associates. He has taught at the USC Graduate School of Business, been a guest lecturer at the UCLA's Anderson School of Business, a Graduate School at Harvard University, and several other universities in various programs.