Reuben Saltzman

Podcast: The most common place to find mold in homes, and mold talk with Vickie Swenson Part II

Moldy carpet

One podcast just wasn’t enough. For part II, we open the show with Reuben discussing whether or not it’s possible to identify mold in attics just by looking at it. We also discuss mold remediation strategies for attics. Tessa asks about the top five places to find mold in homes, then we discuss mold testing procedures, along with conditions in a home that might prevent mold from being found even by someone like Vickie.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

 

Tessa Murry: I was just gonna ask, Vickie, where do you see most commonly mold? You said carpet… Basement carpet, was number one.

 

Vickie Swenson: Yup.

 

Tessa: Where are the top five places you typically see it?

 

Bill Oelrich: Welcome everybody. You’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside my co-host as always, Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. We are in part two of our mold conversation with Vickie Swenson, the owner of Minnesota Molds Inspections LLC. Please remember the LLC when you’re Googling Vickie’s company. And we spent the whole first episode talking about mold and how Vickie got into the business, and we identified some types of mold and we said that we were gonna come back and get into… Part two is gonna be all about testing and remediation and those kinds of things. So, I know Reuben, you’ve got some questions, I’m gonna throw it over to you and let you go run with it.

 

Reuben: Yeah, sure. One of the biggest things that people seem to freak out about is when you have stains in the attic. And it seems to be one of the most contentious ones too, where sometimes we’ll see a little bit of rusty discoloration in nail tips and maybe a little bit of staining on the sheathing, and we’ll call it out as such, we’ll say, “What’s going on? You had condensation up here.” And then, I remember one transaction specifically where we had said that, and then a contractor came out later and said, “This attic is covered in mold. Your home inspector should have told you there’s mold everywhere.” And this is a big deal and you need to have all the sheathing torn off and all that jazz. Well, we’ll get to that extreme and then we’ll get to the other extreme where it’s like, “You’ve got clear growth.” I’m sorry, but…

 

Tessa: Fuzzy stuff on trusses, yeah.

 

Reuben: Yeah, I know… There’s a lot of home… Oh, this whole topic, I could go so many levels deep with this question right now and I know I am. But there are a lot of home inspectors who completely insist, you can never identify mold by looking at it. And I feel like there are some materials that are clearly mold where I know it by looking at it. But when it’s fuzzy and it’s something that’s growing, I don’t need to test this, I know what this is. Let me ask you, do you have the ability… I’m changing my question. Do you have the ability to look at something sometimes and just know that this is mold growth? Is that possible?

 

Vickie: On sheetrock, if I see green spots or white spots next to a water heater, yes. In a attic, even I can’t tell one after 15 years.

 

Reuben: Okay.

 

Vickie: So attic mold is so common. I probably work on one a week in the summer. And it’s interesting, I’ll say, a lot of home inspectors walk past all other sorts of mold and for whatever reason they call it in the attic. And so, when people call about that and there was one that I actually followed up, Structure Tech did about two months ago in Minnetonka… Well, Structure Tech found mold in the attic. I’m like, “Well, do I need a test it?” As soon as they showed me a picture, “Nope, don’t need to test it.” And how could I tell? There had been a problem, attic painted white, now, the molds growing on the white. So I could tell. It had been a problem, someone remediated it, they didn’t take care of the moisture source and now it’s back that we don’t need to test that.

 

So you’re right, most attic mold, people will think, “Well, I didn’t… I never had a roof leak.” Most attic mold comes from condensation, it gets up there during the winter. If you… Warm air rises, stack effect, chimney effect, warm air rises, it goes up there, it condenses. Sometimes, you get a raining attic. So what I tell people is, when they call, I say, “What’s the approximate age of the house?” If they say, “100 years old.”, then I definitely have to test it because it could be tannin, it could be the color the wood, it could be who knows what. It could have been mold 60 years ago, because the first mold class said, “Old mold can lay dormant for hundreds of years.” I found that if you test an attic that’s had mold 60 years ago and it’s been dry for 60 years, you might not get any spores. So the newer the house, if I hear it’s 20 years, 30 years, 40 years old and it’s dark, probably mold. But then the next question is… There are different methods to clean it. And the big question is, “Can we save our insulation?” 90% of the people just clean the sheeting, they don’t get rid of the insulation.

 

The biggest question is, “Okay, so we’re gonna spend all this money cleaning. It will probably be either dry ice blast, there are some chemicals now, Armor 86 is showing some promise. But I haven’t been able to go back 10 years later to see, it looks good after the cleaning, is it really good 10 years down the road. So, it’s still really an abrasive whenever you’re removing mold from wood, vacuum, sand treat and maybe seal.

 

Reuben: Wow.

 

Vickie: But the thing is, how do you know that it’s not gonna come back? There was a really good group called the “Minnesota Building Performance Association”, MBPA.us. Those guys, building scientists from the U, the… Are you in that group, Tess?

 

Tessa: Well, I used to be for a while and Structure Tech is…

 

Reuben: Structure Tech is a member of that group. We’re the only home inspection company who is a member of that group.

 

Vickie: Really? It’s an amazing group and those are the people that I trust. Ross Anderson is the current president going out, and I said, “You need to have these guys at the house.” It’s not an insulator because I just saw one by Fiftieth in France. “Oh, spray foam. A spray foam contractor, spray foam is the answer to everything.” So he spray foamed these whole attic alcoves and you could smell the moisture behind. And I saw it and I felt so bad for them. Like, “You need to call Pat Huelman at the University of Minnesota and ask him if this is really a good idea.” It’s really that group because… There was a client I worked for, a really nice gentleman, he noticed the mold in his attic so he put in more insulation, got more mold. So, I always say that insulation and ventilation has to work together. It’s not necessarily the insulators or the roofers or contractor, it’s those guys that can tell you what you have to do to make sure it doesn’t come back.

 

Tessa: Yeah, air sealing attic bypasses, that’s the key, is to stopping that warm air from getting into the attic so it doesn’t create all that moisture. So I have a couple of questions then. So you’ve mentioned some different types of tests that you do to test for mold, how reliable are they? Does it depend on the season and how wet the house is?

 

Vickie: So a surface tests, the two types of tests I run are testing for airborne spores, that’s pretty consistent. Of course, the spores can go up and down with the season. There are people who say, “They change in 10 minutes.” I have had really good luck with predictability. As far as when testing the attic, I would never do an air test in an attic. I would always test that with a swab. It’s a Q-tip-like device, you collect some of that darkness, you send it to the lab. It’s very reliable. I tested a crawl space recently, early in the summer and got low spores, I re-tested it, after the hot humid summer and got a whole different situation. So yes, there are all sorts of variables that can make the spores change. However, I still say if I’m in a basement with white and green mold, my nose is running, time and time again, I run it, I get high spores. When Wills Fargo had a lot of foreclosures I tested probably 60 that were cleaned by a really good remediator. He got the spores to 350 every time. So, when I’m testing in an extremely moldy place or an extremely clean place, time and time again, they come back as predicted. So, in a great area where I can’t tell, I trust him.

 

Reuben: What do you have to say about mold in a bathroom? You’ve got black stuff growing on the ground, on the clock lines, ceiling, they’re one of the most common places we see this.

 

Vickie: Yeah, when people call me about the ceiling they say one big spot or a lot of little spots, one big spot, something’s leaking from above, you’re gonna have to cut that out, a lot of little spots, that’s just humidity, I believe you can clean that. Now in the tile and grout as I said, that was the first thing they taught us in mold class. That is not a big deal. I like, there’s some really good tile, and grout cleaning companies. Maybe you should have if you can’t keep it away, hire a professional grout cleaner, they can clean it and seal it. Now, if you can push the tiles, I was in one, I could put my finger through the tile, different story. So that’s how it is, it’s really common sense, it’s like, if your walls are really sound and that’s really just on the grout that’s not a big deal, but if your sheetrock’s getting soft that’s a huge deal.

 

Reuben: Yeah, and I’ll jump in there with just a little tip for anybody wanting to check their own house or you wanna inspect your own houses when you’re going through them, as our little trick is to go around and just knock on tiles just a little. It’s just gonna pick it up in the microphone, a little snap, tap, tap, tap with your knuckle. All around any suspected areas. And when you hear that tone change, you know that something’s going on in the wall, especially in your tiles, it sound hollow that’s our little trick. It’s just a dead giveaway that you’ve got a problem, with that wall.

 

Bill: You’re listening to Structure Talk a Structure Tech presentation. I’m Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murray and Reuben Saltzman, and we’ve been talking with Vickie Swenson, from Minnesota Mold Inspections LLC. So Tessa I’m gonna throw it right back to you, you’ve got questions.

 

Tessa: Well, yeah, I was just gonna ask, Vickie, where do you see most commonly mold? You said carpet, basement carpet was number one.

 

Vickie: Yep.

 

Tessa: Where are the top five places do you typically see it?

 

Reuben: And full disclosure, I’m gonna write a blog post with your answer.

 

Vickie: Okay, so yeah, basement carpet, like I said, you don’t always… When you start to see it on the carpet, it’s really bad, you have to lift it in the corners and you’re looking for moisture on the tack-strips, rust on a tack-strips, if the tack-strips are rusty and that rust is transferred to the carpet, and you smell it up close.

 

Tessa: That’s like every basement though. Every basement has a rusty tac-strips.

 

Vickie: Not every. That’s right. If you have sandy soil, you’re on a hill your gutters are great, and you run a dehumidifier, you might see a basement. And sometimes the newer basements they’re really well-insulated water proof, they don’t suffer as much, but you’re right, every basement and that’s why. Then probably the next most common is… And I just read Reuben’s post on this, sub-slab heat ducts.

 

I have seen snakes one, of my clients, most died from bacteria, because she lived near Lake and water got in there, caused a bacteria that went through her HVAC that caused a lung infection that went sepsis, because the water was standing in there. That’s probably, if you have those, you probably have mold. And I struggled with that for a long time, because a guy told me, “I just had my decks clean”. And I was like, “Well I can still scrape the mold out.” And so one summer I searched for everybody asking for a company that could clean them and now I do know two companies that clean them very well.

 

Reuben: Who are they? Throw them up there if you know them off the top of your head.

 

Vickie: Well, AdvantaClean and Ductz, D-U-C-T-Z, adding even more, Terry Helinsky of Ductz has been a referral partner of mine for years. I didn’t know he was doing sub-slab and he told me that other companies, other HVAC companies, or duct cleaning companies go to Terry for the transite. They choose two slightly different approaches, I always felt like it needs to be something wet and scrubby, that abrasion and not with brushes is not enough to get this mold out of there. So, AdvantaClean actually puts moisture down there and just puts a rag on their brushes and they can get them really clean.

 

Tessa: On transite too, which we talked about this in a previous podcast, right? Asbestos ductwork.

 

Vickie: And right after I read Reuben’s post. I think I actually saw my first transite duct, it was someone bought. Bring up this post and she looked it up and she goes, “Yeah, it looks just like it.” And she looked up your blog on site and she goes, “I think this is Transite.” And I don’t see them because most of my are PVC. I don’t see that much Transite, but I did see one. So okay, so we got the attics, the transite.

 

Tessa: Oh wait, you said basement carpet.

 

Vickie: Basement carpet…

 

Tessa: Sub-slab and attics.

 

Vickie: Yep, carpet, sub-slab and attics. Another really common one is newer homes, fiberglass installation above grade. Those little spots Yes.

 

Tessa: Like if it’s an unfinished basement and they put poly over the fiberglass, you see it behind the polly.

 

Vickie: Yep. And those little spots they’re not… They are mold.

 

Tessa: You know what, Pat Huelman calls that type of insulation method in an unfinished basement?

 

Vickie: What?

 

Tessa: The diaper method.

 

Vickie: Well I thought the diaper was kind of a cement wall, when you put polly then installation in polly?

 

Tessa: Are you talking about above grade or below grade walls?

 

Vickie: Yeah. I was mainly first talking about above grade, they’re both problems, they’re both huge problems. That’s probably a huge… And I tell everybody to take off the diaper system. But let’s say you don’t have it. Some basements you’ll see the…

 

Bill: Thought you got rid of those at like age two.

 

Vickie: Yeah. There was such a bad idea. So yeah. On above grade walkout or lookout wall, when you see the fiberglass insulation and the vapor barrier over it and there’s a lot of little spots, that’s mold.

 

Tessa: I just had that this morning.

 

Vickie: It’s never the toxic black mold, there’s not enough moisture in there, back to Stachybotrys being a water indicator, that needs a direct leak. So this kind of mold put people’s… In fact, I wrote a document and I had Pat [Huelman] review it because I said, “I just give this to everybody.” I email it to people I’ve never met because then I tell them, “It’s not… Nothing’s wrong with your house. It’s not a building defect, it’s a building science phenomenon. It is gonna happen.” And so…

 

Bill: That’s why Tessa is sittin’ here. She is our conduit to the building science world.

 

Vickie: I agree with you, Vickie, on that. I’d say the same thing to them. They freak out when they see it and I say, “Well, if you’ve got poly and you’ve got rips and tears in it, unsealed areas, that warm moist air is gonna get behind there and cause condensation.”

 

Vickie: It does. The first time I saw it, slush behind the insulation. I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” So then I had someone call a building scientist and he’s like, “Well…” Didn’t seem that concerned. I went home to my same age house, same type of wall, went behind the insulation, I get ice crystals back there in the winter. Yep.

 

Bill: Okay. So Tessa, let’s do this. Let’s give Pat proper props, and let’s… We’ve mentioned his name 17 times.

 

Vickie: We need Pat to come on this podcast.

 

Tessa: Yes. We do need Pat to come on here, yes.

 

Bill: Well, but tell everybody who’s listening who he is, because…

 

Tessa: Pat Huelman. Yeah. He’s an extension professor for the Cold Climate Housing Department at University of Minnesota, and his life has been building science, residential building science. And he teaches classes to students at the U in the bio-products… I think they call it SSM now, Sustainable Systems Management degrees, that study building science and all of this phenomena. But he got into… Well, we’ll let him talk about it. But…

 

Bill: Yeah. Someday we’re gonna get Pat in here.

 

Tessa: He’s a building science guru. He is the building science guru.

 

Reuben: Well, wait. We got four on this list. Hold on. Where’s five before you…

 

Vickie: Okay. So the fifth most common. Well, probably then you’re gonna just, water heater leaks, water softener leaks.

 

Tessa: Well, bathrooms too I guess. We didn’t even… Bathrooms are on the list, you’d say? As I guess surface…

 

Vickie: Bathrooms. Well, when we talked about bathrooms on the… If it’s a grout, no. But when you’re next to the shower, when the shower water leaks out and all of a sudden your baseboards are swelling and there’s… That’s a very common place. Or wax wring leaks.

 

Bill: Welcome back. You’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. I’m Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. And we have Vickie Swenson here with Minnesota Mold Inspections, LLC. Okay, Vickie, it’s been a big build-up. Let’s talk about testing. How do you go out to a house? And tell us about the testing procedure.

 

Vickie: Well, as I mentioned earlier no test tells you where it is. So a mold inspection, for the first hour I’m really just looking for mold. I’m lifting that carpet, I’m using my moisture meter, I’m smelling windows, I am looking for it, looking and smelling. Looking in these places that we talked about, looking in the ducts, looking at the insulation, looking at the attic. I do a lot of air testing, but I really only feel like it answers three questions well. If I see a big mold problem in one room I won’t even test that room, I know automatically what has to happen. That mold has to be removed, run an air cleaner or HEPA vacuum everything. I’ll test the room next door or above to see if spores have spread, and are there other areas that need to be cleaned other than the obvious. So that’s one valid use of air testing. One is to figure out if it’s in basement carpet. That type of mold is a spore factory. It’s usually Aspergillus-Penicillium, it puts a lot of spores in. And just the lifting of the carpet, it’ll come into the air on its own.

 

But I do use it to see if there is mold in basement carpet, and I use it to clear a property after the mold is gone. I don’t see any benefit to just run it, go in and run a test, because… And this is what’s happening with some other home inspectors, and I see these reports come to me all the time. Home inspector, because they figure they can make more money by running mold testing. They’re not mold experts, they run a test, and then they’re either looking for answers or it kills the deal, because just running an air test by itself doesn’t really give you any information. It lets you know if there’s spores in the air, but it doesn’t tell you where it is. So I agree. And then you get to the situation where there are five conditions in which you can get a false negative air test. Meaning you have mold all around you. This happened when I worked for the federal prison up north. I was in the moldiest house I’ve ever been in, but it had been dormant for 20 years. So, mold doesn’t just grow on release spores, like a little… At a constant rate. There are so many factors that can affect it. So I’m in this huge moldy room, no spores, because it’s been dormant for 20 years. It’s not gonna try to release spores. So I have come to the conclusion, if it’s too old, too cold, if it’s a foreclosure, it’s not gonna release spores at 30 degrees. Too wet, it’s still a new colony, it’s not ready to feel threatened to release spores, or it’s too sealed in the wall. And this is where it gets real dicey. If that vapor barrier… You can have… I’ve seen where windows, the framing studs are rotten, the insulation you can ring, but that vapor barrier protects the sheetrock and there is very little indication that there’s a problem. Or Cladosporium, the most common attic type mold. Cladosporium… I finally asked my lab, “What’s the deal? I’m reacting, I test it, you tell me it’s Cladosporium. I take a test, it’s not in the air.” Cladosporium has to be disturbed to release its spores. So, too old, too cold, too wet, too sealed, or Clado. You can have this mold around here, it’s not gonna be in an air test.

 

Reuben: I gotta just repeat what you just said about mold in the walls, because that’s… It seems like it’s everybody’s biggest fear, is we want to do intrusive testing, we wanna know if there’s mold in the walls. And it’s like, “Alright, there’s two very different things here.” Alright, why are you concerned that there’s mold in the walls? “Well, because we heard that stucco homes this age have a problem.” Ah, okay. So you wanna know if your walls are rotted. And you’re assuming that to test for rotted walls you need to test for mold. And there’s this big jump in logic there, and the whole point is that you can’t see that.

 

Vickie: Oh no, and as soon as I hear stucco I send that to Structure Tech. Because I’m not a stucco expert, that is a whole discipline on it’s own.

 

Bill: Yeah, and invasive moisture testing is what we’re talking about there. Where somebody’s gonna come out and drill some small holes in the stucco and see if the sheathing is wet, and/or maybe gone ’cause it’s rotted away.

 

Tessa: Yep, piggybacking on that too, when we have clients, when we’re working with buyers and they say, “Well, one of our main concerns is mold. We really want you to inspect this house and find any mold.” And how do you do that? Because like you said there’s so many scenarios where even if you’re testing for mold you can’t find it. And as a home inspector when we’re, if someone thinks that there’s mold in the basement and it’s completely finished that sheetrock isn’t wet a lot of time. But does it mean that there isn’t mold back there? No, and how do we inspect for that? Well, you really can’t, especially our SOP, right Rueben, we follow the ASHI Standards of Practice?

 

Reuben: You know it.

 

Tessa: It says that we do not have to identify mold.

 

Reuben: Yeah, that’s almost specifically excluded from home inspection standards of practice is the identification of mold, yes.

 

Vickie: Interesting. Yeah, you’re right it’s a huge, I’m surprised I’ve made it 15 years because it is hard to know if it’s in the walls. But in basements if you have, I don’t know what years they were doing this, putting fiber glass right on the cement with vapor barrier over it, that can generate a lot of odors and a lot of mold.

 

Tessa: For a long, long time. People still do it.

 

Vickie: Okay, I don’t like it when I see that because that’s just absorbing that.

 

Tessa: Until 2015 you could do that by code.

 

Vickie: Oh really?

 

Tessa: Yes, so in the last few years they’ve been…

 

Bill: Trial and error.

 

Vici: Yeah, right. My favorite are the styrofoam panels wedged between the 2×4’s pulled a little bit towards the front, so there’s a tiny air gap back there. Spray foam, I don’t know a thing about that, but I’m not sure.

 

Bill: Oh that just feels like a situation that’s too permanent for my liking.

 

Vickie: I say I have a unfounded mistrust of it. There’s no reason I don’t trust it. The moss guy I had my client take it out, the fire guy said it’s too flammable. I mean I just hear all the bad things about it. So I’m not an expert in that, but I just like the styrofoam panels in the basement.

 

Tessa: That’ll be a another question we ask when we get Pat Huelman on here is what’s the best way to insulate a basement, or to finish a basement? And I’ll tell you this he’s gonna say, “Don’t do it.”

 

Reuben: Do you remember we had him out on a seminar and I tried to corner him I was like, “I want you to present on this topic.”

 

Tessa: He can’t.

 

Reuben: And he would not answer that question.

 

Bill: Well, I get his point. I mean these are subterranean spaces that could be used for something. And when you build a house and you build space it’s hard to look at square foot footage that could be finished and walk away from it. Right, I mean that’s a pretty tempting thing because building the porch addition onto your house is way more expensive than putting some dry wall up in your basement and getting a few more square feet down there. So I get it from an economics perspective, I totally get it.

 

Vickie: But I think that’s what we have more mold ’cause mold is written about in the Bible, every mold class starts with the reference, “Leviticus chapters 13 and 14.” And when I say they called mold, “Leprosy of homes,” they would burn tents and clean stones. So I say somewhere between Bible days and 30 years ago mold just became considered a household nuisance. But possibly when walls re-plaster and had lead and mercury in the paint, that was a natural mold inhibitor, the walls weren’t stuffed with fiberglass they could dry out easier, we weren’t finishing basements, we do have more mold today than we did.

 

Tessa: Definitely.

 

Bill: So you gotta manage the water, number one.

 

Vickie: It’s all about the water, yup.

 

Tessa: Managing heat, air, and moisture, Pat would call that a HAM sandwich. How do you recommend cleaning this up? I mean every mold has a different recommendation. Like the attic, if it’s in the attic, celiac bypasses. If it’s in the basement in the carpet, rip it up, but if you rip up the carpet, how do you prevent it from coming back? And are there certain molds where you really just you don’t have a good solution to remediation? Or to prevent it from coming back?

 

Vici: That mold cleaning standard the S520, and that is the name of the standard 520. It’s published by a group called the IICRC, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration. So they call for removing mold and not killing it ’cause people always ask, ” Well does bleach kill mold?” Well technically, yes, it would. But in reality, no, because it evaporates it, bleach makes it look like it’s gone, but it evaporates so quickly, it doesn’t stay on the surface long enough in those little ruts and the pores can make the mold grow right back. So, I say we’re not trying to kill mold, we’re trying to remove it. And that’s really what the S520 calls for getting it out of the house. So then it’s depending on if it’s growing on a surface that’s porous, or non-porous, or semi-porous, if it’s growing on a semi-porous you can’t get, carpet…

 

Tessa: You have to remove it.

 

Vickie: Yup, you get it out.

 

Tessa: Okay, like sheetrock? Sheetrock is porous. You can’t clean it.

 

Vickie: Sheetrock, carpet, insulation you get out. So if it’s on wood or concrete, on wood you vacuum it, sand it, treat it and seal it. And on concrete you’re basically vacuuming and scrubbing it off. In attic, I still believe in the abrasive methods, vacuum, sand, and treat. But because it’s such a big space and it’s hard to sand with all those nails people are trying to look at chemicals that supposedly boil it out and you vacuum it up. The Indoor Air Quality Association, I think, is gonna address that, removing mold with chemicals at their upcoming session this Winter.

 

Bill: Where’s that at? And can the general public attend?

 

Vickie: Yeah, so go to iaqa.org, and I think it’s in Florida, and it’s in January.

 

Bill: Sounds good already. I like that. January in Florida. We’ll go and learn about mold, yes.

 

Vickie: Everything air quality, the IAQA, when people call me from other states and they want a mold inspector in Chicago or wherever the websites I trust are iicrc.org, iaqa.org (Indoor Air Quality Association), or the American Council of Accredited Certification, those three websites if you find someone on those they’re probably at least gonna try to do a good job.

 

Bill: Okay, we’ll link all of those up in the show notes and the S5?

 

Vickie: S520.

 

Bill: Okay, is that something that the ordinary Joe would read and…

 

Vickie: You have to buy a copy. Some people told me that if you go to their website there’s some information for free, but generally most people in the mold business end up buying a copy of it.

 

Tessa: I think the EPA actually has some information about how to clean it up, like what you just said, and depending on the type of surface if it’s porous, you have to get rid of it. If it’s a hard surface you can scrub it. But do they recommend using some sort of soap solution and water? Or…

 

Vickie: There are a lot of people using Dawn dish soap out there. I am skeptical of that, I think it’s okay. So basically, I’m just gonna summarize the mold remediation, again if it’s a porous surface you take it out. You sand or remove it. While you’re doing that you have to run a big HEPA Air Cleaner, you have to do something with the air. So you either have to put, it’s helped a woman get her spores from 10,000 down to 300 by putting a fan in the window and just sucking the air out of the room creating, if it’s only one room that works okay, you can create negative pressure and take the air out. But otherwise you need these big HEPA Air Cleaners. And the final step is to use a HEPA Vacuum, and HEPA just means tighter filters, traps smaller particles, you want a HEPA Air Cleaner for the air and a HEPA Vacuum. So when you’re done getting the mold out you vacuum every inch, every vertical and horizontal surface, then you damp wipe it and then you vacuum it again.

 

Tessa: Wow.

 

Vickie: And that’s how you…

 

Bill: That would test my patience of that…

 

Vickie: So it’s very green, it’s a very green process. There aren’t a lot of chemicals.

 

Tessa: So just scrubbing a wall with bleach and water isn’t gonna do it? If it’s growing on a basement wall.

 

Vickie: If it’s plaster you’re probably going to scrub it, but you should go to Menards. Some of the actual mold products have bleach or hydrogen peroxide in them. But they have something called surfactants it’s been explained to me, it makes it go further into the surface. I always thought it might dwell longer, but it’s just stays there.

 

Reuben: How about concrete?

 

Vickie: Concrete, you have to use something like Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser. The guys that have the hard surface tile cleaner, a little mini-power washer, but that can be effective on concrete.

 

Tessa: Not just hand-scrubbing. That’s not going to do it.

 

Vickie: You can do that, it just depends on how thorough you want to me and how big your… If it’s just a little area you’re not going to hire the hard surface tool guy. You can just HEPA Vacuum it, scrub it with Concrobium or a similar product, vacuum it again, scrub it again, and then you’re probably gonna, I don’t like to say paint over it ’cause now you’ve tried to remove as much as you can, but you will seal it or paint it. And this is, always know like if the wall has never been painted you can put on a water-proofing paint, but if it has been painted you can’t put on a water proofing paint. And I saw right here in Northeast Minneapolis once why you can’t do that because someone just put the waterproofing paint over the old blue paint and now it’s peeling off in sheets. But if it’s been painted and you’re getting it painted well there’s a paint called Zinsser Perma-White that works really well.

 

Bill: I think we’re gonna have to put a wrap on this, but this has been fantastic. Again, I’ve learned, leave it to the professionals don’t do it yourself. DIY in my world is not a good acronym. Sorry, for anybody who thinks that. But Vickie, thank you very much for coming in and talking about this. It’s amazing information, and we’re just scratching the surface. I mean we could probably do 15 straight hours of this conversation and still not get really too far into it.

 

Vickie: I agree.

 

Bill: Thank you Vickie, very much for taking the time to spend with us this afternoon. Again, it’s Minnesota Mold Inspections, llc mnmold.com if you wanna look her up just on the web. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk a Structure Tech presentation. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll catch you next time.

 

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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