Whether you are a snowbird, or a vacationer returning to your Florida home, and you notice a musty, earthy type smell, you have likely returned to find a mold problem. Mold is very common in Florida’s warm, humid climate. Mold can grow in as little as 48 hours.
Remember when you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time water intrusion can provide breeding grounds for mold. If you were home you would most likely recognize the problem right away. Simple things like stained drywall or ceiling tiles are a sure sign of moisture coming from somewhere. Even if you put all efforts forward prior to departing, you might still walk into a mold problem upon your return. Typically you will smell an odor as described earlier in this post. Most common are black growths, but mold can also be white, gray, brown, yellow and green.
What is a reasonable and safe response?
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from happening. If the drying of wet building materials are commenced within 24 hours (assuming clean water), the chances of preventing mold growth are excellent. If building materials remain wet, it is inevitable that mold can start to grow. Therefore, addressing and eliminating moisture problems are critical first step. Simply put, “Got Moisture? Got Mold!”.
However, once mold is present, drying is not enough. Moldy materials must either be removed or decontaminated. The process is called remediation, which means “to remedy” or “ to cure”. Proper remediation procedures will be determined by the size, scope and nature of mold contamination.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a helpful guidebook for homeowners about the cleanup and prevention of mold problems in homes. This booklet, entitled A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home, can help you decide when you can handle mold cleanup yourself and when you should call a professional. The booklet is available on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html.