An example of mold inside a wall cavity. If left alone, mold inside walls can do permanent damage to structure over time. Photo courtesy www.epa.gov
Removing the mold
The fact that the growth was behind a wall reduced the direct-health risk to the homeowners, but if left untouched, mold poses another risk to the structural elements of their bathroom, says Jones.
“Mold that continues to grow for years can actually eat through the wood, causing structural problems,” he says.
After the discovery, Jones called in mold remediation experts to clear the area before work could continue. If not properly removed, mold can re-emerge.
Luckily for Jones, remediation is a fairly simple process. “A plastic barrier contains the area with the mold, so that it doesn’t spread into other parts of the home. As it is being removed, a fan drives air to the outside through a window, and HEPA vacuums remove leftover mold particles from the area,” he says. Once the area is completely cleared of mold and dried, it is sealed with a mold-inhibiting paint to help prevent future outbreaks.
Following the remediation, Jones recommended using a polyurethane spray-foam insulation instead of the fiberglass batt insulation that was originally used.
"The polyurethane foam insulation is sprayed into the area, so it completely fills every crevice and hole that may be present,” Jones says. Not only does this type of insulation block all moisture, but it is also known for its energy-efficient elements.
Detection and prevention
Do you have moisture issues in your cabin? Jones provides the following tips to ensure early detection of moisture issues and preventative measures for mold growth.
Staining. By the time you notice staining, you can be sure that water either has been or is present. “Drywall and paint is easy and cheap to replace, so when I see staining, I recommend clients cut through the drywall immediately and locate the problem,” Jones says.
Odor. Many times you don’t need to physically see the mold to know that it is present because it will have an odor. If you walk into a room or basement and notice an odor, it’s time to investigate.
Blistering. Paint that is peeled or blistering is another sign of water damage. Also bulging dry wall, and screws or joints that are popping out is evidence that the wood is warping from repeated water exposure.
Ventilate. Areas of the home that have accessible water systems or could face water exposure from the outside are extremely susceptible to mold growth and must have proper ventilation. “I suggest a bathroom fan with a wired timer, that will continue to run 30 to 60 minutes following shower use to keep the moisture level down,” Jones says.