There are many people who are living in water-damaged and moldy properties who do not have the capability to move from their current residence. They simply do not have the financial, mental, or physical resources to do so.
The main reason I have found this happens is that they do not have enough money to remediate properly or to move. I have seen many people in the past and every day in Facebook groups who are stuck in these toxic situations with no cash to hire professional help.
After realizing their dire straits, they quickly went from somewhat hopeful asking for assistance to complete hopelessness. As if there is no escape from their current situation and they are eternally screwed because they have to breathe mold all day.
But the facts are, many of these people do not have to be hopeless.
The reason is that most of the properties I visit that have water damage and or microbial growth, normally, the entire property is not 100% contaminated. Meaning their home is not completely uninhabitable and if they cannot remediate, they can adjust their living situation to find ways to remain safe even in a toxic home.
There are often other areas and rooms that you can designate as clean rooms (mold safe zones) and use them as your main living spaces.
You will do this by simply controlling a small area of your home by keeping this room and the air in it super clean. In other words, you will maintain a minimum level of air particulates and other contaminants in a 100% controlled area, somewhat like they do in many commercial industries, such as pharmaceuticals and electronics manufacturing.
As I mentioned above, these clean rooms must be separated from the moldy zones by erecting plastic containments (6 Mil Plastic) and sealing the areas (with painters tape and duct tape) all around the mold. You will need to also do some extra cleaning and filtering of the air in the clean room/safe zones on a daily basis.
Please keep in mind that not every home can have clean rooms or be lived in safely.
For example, a property that has massive water damage and mold in numerous locations or all over the crawl space and or attic.
Also, homes with one kitchen and or bathroom that has massive water damage and mold will most likely be unsafe. In addition, some properties are so hopelessly contaminated that they either need major remediation completed, or simply need to be condemned – torn down.
But if you have 1 or 2 rooms with mold growth such as a bathroom or bedroom, and you have another one that you can utilize, you can probably seal these areas and safely set up a clean room. It takes some work and time, but once you are done, you can have some peace of mind and clean air to plan your next move.
How Do I Set Up a Clean Room at Home?
1. Choose a clean room or several clean rooms
It should be large enough to fit everyone in your home and somewhat comfortable. A master bedroom with a bathroom or a living room near a safe bathroom is a great choice.
2. HEPA Purifiers filter the air in the clean room, danger areas and house
Use a portable HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air purifier that can properly filter harmful spores and particles as small as 0.3 microns with a 99.97% efficiency. You will put them in all rooms and operate them 24/7 to remove airborne contaminants and keep the air safe for the room’s occupants.
3. Seal off the mold-contaminated rooms from the rest of the home
Prevent toxins and contaminated air from exiting the danger areas by sealing them off from the rest of the property. Cover all openings in the room such as vents, windows, cabinets, floors, and even drains, etc., if need be.
You will also close doors in the room and place a plastic containment all around the door frame to the floor and seal it with painters tape and some staples if needed me. If there is an exhaust fan or range hood in the clean room space, try not to utilize it or only use it for very short periods of time.
4. Kill the mold!
You might not be able to remove it 100% just yet, but by all means, kill the darn mold but do it right and safely.
First, you will need to keep safe so purchase the right personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a Tyvek XL Coverall with Hood and Boots, thick rubber gloves and a full face-piece respirator that is used with NIOSH-certified N100, R100, P100 particulate filters to do this work. Next, you will need a great eco-friendly mold removal spray and a spray bottle.
5. Ventilate the Clean Room
Ventilation of the clean room is required to get the necessary oxygen and maintain indoor air quality. A window is a simple way to do this. If you do not have one, you will need to create some type of air exchange to bring fresh air in that replaces the air that is exhausted from the room during ventilation.
6. Temperature and humidity – Temperature and humidity control is required to ensure a comfortable environment.
If you have central HVAC, you should install a high-efficiency filter (MERV 13 or higher) in the system. Run the system’s fan as often as possible to get the most out of the filter.
7. Keep the clean room clean – Maintain a clean room by using a HEPA vacuum and also dust or mop surfaces in the clean room with a damp cloth as needed to keep settled particles from getting back into the air.
That’s about it. Sure, there are some little details and tweaks you can add to the above plan but this guide will definitely give you a head start on making your home somewhat safe and livable while living in a mold.
Moe Bedard is the founder of Mold Safe Inspections and manager at Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation.
If you need help with a project, please call 760-818-6830.