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You expect allergy season to arrive but you don’t expect it to stay. Your health seems compromised by itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and exceptional tiredness.

It may be more than seasonal allergies. Could your indoor air quality be declining because of uninvited guests such as mold?

Mold is always present outdoors and indoors to some degree. That your allergies are worse may be a good indication that you have two problems. Why two? That’s because mold needs a food source and moisture to grow and multiply. If you’ve got a mold problem then you probably have a water problem too.

Looking for visible signs of water leaks and fungal contamination is a good first step to identifying the source of your problem. If you see darkened areas around your base-boards, discolored places on your walls or ceilings, those are good places to begin. Follow your nose to where it detects a musty smell. Chances are your water problem is nearby.

We know firsthand that water and mold problems can be sneaky. We never heard or saw the gentle drip behind the refrigerator. We had no clue there was a problem until the phone repairman came out from under our house and announced we had water pouring through our walls… and mold. We never knew the air conditioning overflow was clogged until the middle of one night the ceiling in our bedroom released a steady drip. And if those weren’t enough, the first sign we knew the roofers did a poor job of sealing the flashing was when the foot of water in the attic caused the ceiling in our family room to sag then collapse.

Finding a spot on your bathroom wall may seem like nothing. What if that spot is the first sign that an army of itsy-bitsy green, black, brown or white organisms is invading your space. Like a scene from a Lilliputian Sci-Fi-movie, there could be tens of thousands of invisible “Spore-aliens” hitchhiking the currents of your HVAC looking for the perfect place to colonize. When these microscopic intruders set up camp inside your walls, behind your cabinets or under your floors, you may need to call in reinforcements from your local restoration company.

Restoration professionals have a protocol they follow: contain, remediate and restore – in that order. More importantly, they have diagnostic tools and methods that go far beyond the typical “mold test” available at The Home Depot.

One diagnostic tool, FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer), would make Superman proud with its x-ray type ability to see into your walls. Remediators and industrial hygienists use FLIR to detect moisture content and heat signatures which can indicate moisture and mold growth. Once they locate the source of the water problem and extent of the growth, a plan of action is prepared. What’s next?

If you or your restoration partner follows standard protocol, then you’ll set up containment. Mold is hyper-sensitive. It has a survival instinct that will ramp up the number of spores it spews into the air if disturbed by direct contact, vibrations or airflows. Beginning with source containment, each area of visible fungal contamination is covered-over with a barrier that prevents more spores from getting into the air. The product MoldHold works extremely well for this job as it sticks to wet surfaces and can be rolled directly over the affected surface – instantly stopping more airborne spores. Workers brushing against moldy walls, vibrations from activity in the area, and airflow from drying equipment are all negated by source containment.

As soon as source containment is done, area containment follows. This prevents mold from migrating and cross-contaminating adjacent rooms.

The purpose of containment is to prevent more mold from becoming airborne and spreading throughout the site. It can stop indoor air quality from declining further and actually make restoration to normal happen sooner.

The benefits of effective containment include lower drying and remediation times, protecting health and property, and lowering costs. With most property insurance policies having caps from mold problems, containment’s ability to reduce costs can be huge. Insurers know adjusted living expenses for displaced families or workforces can be staggering. Consider the cost one university had to pay for housing and entire dormitory of students at nearby hotels while remediating mold. Effective containment could conceivably eliminate the need for occupants to evacuate – reducing to zero those displacement costs.

It can happen fast. It can happen slowly. When your health or the health of your family declines, it is worth pausing and considering if you have uninvited guests. Know they can be contained and your home reclaimed.

By Scot K LaVelle