Steps for Inspecting & Remediating Your Home For Mold & Water Damage

Reevaluate how you feel in the home and consider working with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner if health symptoms and concerns persist. Implement preventive measures, regular maintenance, and a cleaning schedule.

Why evaluate how you feel?

If someone in the home was experiencing symptoms caused or made worse by exposure to mold and other microbial growth, effective remediation of the home should greatly reduce or eliminate the particles and toxins that are causing problems. Many will experience symptom improvement or elimination once the environment is healthier and may not need further medical intervention. 

However, even after remediation, some individuals may experience continuing symptoms. If symptoms persist:

Evaluate the effectiveness of previous remediation attempts. Remember, the remediation industry is not very regulated and many practices that pass as “remediation” are ineffective, insufficient, and even unsafe! Review steps #1-4 of “Steps for Inspecting & Remediating Your Home for Mold & Water Damage” and download your free copy of “Mold Remediation at a Glance.”

Determine if other areas of microbial growth and water damage were overlooked and could be contributing to symptoms. 

Rule out other environmental factors like low level carbon monoxide exposure, natural gas leaks, radon, lead, EMFs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc.

Work with a knowledgeable healthcare professional who can provide the appropriate medical interventions.

How do you find a healthcare practitioner?

Despite the ample evidence that living in a home with water damage creates a complex ecosystem of mold and other microbial growth that can make people sick, mainstream medicine has yet to fully accept or understand how to diagnose and treat those with mold related illnesses. If it is recognized, the effects are often minimized as nothing more than allergic symptoms.

While Change the Air Foundation is actively working to broaden the medical community’s understanding of how our homes and buildings can make us sick, many people have found that working with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner often means finding an integrative, functional, naturopathic, or other holistic type practitioner who understands conditions like mold-related illnesses, environmentally acquired illnesses, or chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). Unfortunately, many of these practitioners are currently not accepting insurance, so accessibility can be a challenge for many.

Bottom line: Continuing to live in a mold-and water-damaged environment is going to greatly reduce the effectiveness of any medical intervention. The first step is always to ensure you are in the healthiest environment possible. This may mean attempting effective remediation or moving to a better location.

Focus on prevention, maintenance, and effective cleaning

A focus on preventing future problems and reducing exposure to indoor pollutants is critical and should not be overlooked.

Determine lifespan of appliances and materials

Determine the lifespan of various appliances and materials in your home such as refrigerators, dishwashers, sump pumps, windows, roofs, etc. Maintain and replace appliances and building materials before they become problematic. 

Consider periodic inspections

Consider periodic inspections of your roof, HVAC system, and home using the appropriate, licensed professional. 

Utilize prevention tools

Utilize leak alarms, under-sink trays, and other methods that will buy you time in the event of a water event and alert you quickly to any new problems. Monitor relative humidity using a tool like a hygrometer. (You can learn more here.)

Improve filtration

Take steps to improve the filtration in your home by upgrading and changing filters regularly in the HVAC system or other heating and cooling equipment. If desired, consider adding air purifiers and cleaners to the home. (You can learn more here.)

Improve ventilation

Improve the ventilation in your home. Always use exterior-vented kitchen range hoods and bathroom fans when cooking and bathing. Open windows regularly as weather and climate allow and/or consider using mechanical interventions such as an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) or heat recovery ventilator (HRV). (You can learn more here.)

Reduce VOCs

Reduce exposure to volatile organic compounds by making intentional choices about furniture, paints, flooring, cleaning materials, and other products and materials that off-gas and release VOCs into the air. (You can learn more here and here.)

Implement effective cleaning practices

Implement effective and regular cleaning practices. Ideally, use a HEPA filtered vacuum that has a sealed system. Vacuums with bags are preferable to those with canisters because they are easier to remove and reduce the chances of cross-contamination. Always change your vacuum cleaner bag or empty your canister outside. For dusting, use microfiber cloths and your chosen cleaning solution (eg: one quart of water to five drops of dish soap). (Learn more here and here)