by Dana Belletete on April 11, 2012

DIY – How To Remove Affected Materials

So you’ve already determined that you have a mold issue and you feel it is a small enough mold issue that you can remediate it yourself.  In most cases this means you have 32 square feet (sqft) or less of visible mold damaged area(s).  (32 sqft is the size of one sheet of 4×8 sheetrock or 4×8 plywood or 4×8 paneling).  If you have more than 32 sqft of affected ares(s), you really should call a professional and save your health and possibly some time and money in the process.  If you get in over your head and have done things wrong prior to calling an expert, it can be more costly than calling the expert in the first place.  Penny wise dollar foolish!

If your going to Do It Yourself (DIY), remember, preparation is 90% of the job.  The first thing you have to do is create an air tight barrier around the affected area.  This can be done using common plastic sheathing, plastic tarps, or plastic painters tarps, but make sure any plastic materials you use are at least 3-mil or thicker.  Cheap 1-mil painters tarps simply won’t hold up, they puncture, rip, and tear way to easily to provide a real barrier to mold spore migration.

You must create a space large enough that you can safely work without hitting the barrier, yet small enough to limit the mold spore distribution.  If your removing a piece of affected wall material, you’ll need a space at least 4×4 feet preferably 6×6 feet.  That will give you enough room to slowly remove small pieces of the affected materials at one time and place them in a 3-mil construction debris bag for removal. The key here is to remove small manageable pieces of sheetrock or insulation very slowly so as to create the minimal amount of dust as you place them gently into the bag without ripping it with nails, screws, staples, sharp edges,  and etc.  Watch what your doing at all times, slow and steady is the goal.  If you rip a bag, double bag it!

When creating your barrier, keep in mind that it should be sealed air tight to the flooring, adjacent walls, and to the ceiling.  Painters masking tape works well for delicate surfaces, but will not hold up long term.  If your planning on taking more than an hour or two to do the work, the job is probably out of the DIY range in the first place.  If you insist on continuing, professional grade duct tape such as “Gorilla Brand Duct Tape” will hold the plastic in place long term, and will also seal the plastic seams much better, but keep in mind it may also rip the paint off the walls and ceiling and may damage the finish on the trim and flooring when removed.

You also need to create a way to get into and out of the sealed area.  The simplest way is to create a double door way by cutting a vertical slot (floor to 6.5  foot above the floor towards the ceiling) after the chamber has been constructed.  Cut the vertical slot to the left of where you want to enter and then place a second sheet of plastic over the same area taping all seams beyond the first slot, except the floor, and cut a similar slot on the right side.  This will allow you and your bags to pass through the first slot, step to one side and pass through the other slot thereby limiting the spread of contaminates in the process.

An easier and inexpensive way to make an access slot in your chamber is to purchase a plastic zipper wall kit at any big box or local hardware store.  Basically its a sheet of plastic in a small box with a full length zipper already attached and is called “ZIP-LOC” or something similar and usually costs about $8.   Just make this your chambers front wall and you can enter and exit through the zippered opening. Make sure you close the zipper before starting to work and each and every time you exit.

Now that you have a sealed chamber to work in, you should mask off a walking path across the floors to the nearest exit or window.  You’ll want to minimize the distance you are carrying the bags, so you’ll minimize the possible spread of the mold spores through the rest of your property.  Unless absolutely necessary you should never ever carry your bags through kitchens, other bedrooms, or other living spaces if it can possibly be helped.  I usually try to include the closest window or door inside my chamber if possible so I can throw the bags directly outside.  Otherwise I take the shortest path to a window or door.  When done, all plastic materials should be bagged and all areas thoroughly HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air filter) vacuumed.

One other thing to keep in mind while working inside your chamber is to assure there is no wind inside and preferably negative air pressure.  What this means is if your chamber contains no windows or doors the plastic should hang straight and not move around by itself.  This would represent stable equalized air pressure and mold spores should remain inside.

If you have a window or door inside your chamber, you can place a fan blowing out the window or out the door to create a vacuum effect inside.  Another easy way to obtain a negative air flow such that the air inside your property only flows into the sealed chamber (no windows or doors) is to put a HEPA filter on a shop vacuum and place the suction hose inside the chamber with the vacuum outside the chamber.  Tape it all up air tight making sure the hose input remains free and clear of loose plastic and large debris inside the chamber, and then turn the vacuum on while working.  This will suck your inside air into the chamber along with sucking up most of the dust and loosened mold spores, preventing any chamber air and mold spores from blowing outside the chamber.

Last but certainly not least, make sure you are well protected while working inside the chamber.  At minimum you should be wearing a mask with an N95 rating (I prefer a P100 filter) eye protection, and long sleeves and long pants.  You can buy cheap disposable cover-all plastic/tyvek like suits at any hardware store and I highly recommend you do.  These suits should come with attached booties and attached hood, giving you full body protection from the mold spores and you just throw them away when done.  Washing your affected clothes and drying them in a dryer should remove the molds spores and dust and this should be done as soon as you are done! Strip right in front of the washer and put them in, then take a shower and wash your hair thoroughly.  (Make sure you do not contaminate other clothing, wash your mold spore covered clothes by themselves.)

Keep in mind professionals use air scrubbers and industrial fans and other related industrial sized equipment to do their job, and although you could rent some of that type of equipment it may simply be more cost effective to hire a professional to do the work in the first place.



by Dana Belletete on March 11, 2012

Cleaning Your Heating/Cooling System

There is no better way to evenly distribute mold spores throughout your property than having mold present and/or growing in your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning system(s) or FHA (Forced Hot Air system).

Every time your FHA or HVAC blower turns on, it can send millions of air borne particles, dust, and mold spores into your indoor environment causing you to breath them, eat them, wear them on your clothes and spread them around some more.  If any of the mold spores find a damp environment, especially your mucus membranes (eyes, ears, nose, throat, lungs) the mold will begin to grow and wreak havoc with your health.  The longer this continues the worse your health will get, and if the mold species is toxic and/or your highly allergic to the particular variety present, you could eventually go into shock and/or die.

No amount of prescription drugs can solve your mold related health issues.  You may mask some of the mild symptoms for a while, but you will be taxing your immune system and possibly building up an antigen in your blood to the offending mold spore(s) causing a permanent allergic reaction each and every time you encounter a molecule of that particular species anywhere in life.

In order to prevent the growth and spreading of mold spores throughout your property, you must keep the HVAC System(s); Coils, Blowers, Plenums, Duct Work, Vents and/or Radiators, and especially any Filters, CLEAN & DRY!  This includes window mounted AC units and self contained wall units like a Rinnai space heater.

Most people will eventually have the mechanical parts maintained, but usually not until the unit ceases to run.  It’s human nature to avoid fixing anything that isn’t broken, and with heating and cooling systems its kind of an out of site out of mind mentality.

You must make it a habit to clean and inspect your entire FHA system at least once a year, preferably just before the start of the heating season.  With HVAC systems, you should clean and inspect the entire system twice a year, before the start of either the heating or cooling season. You simply can’t keep mold spores, dust, pollen, smoke, pollutants, dander, and etc. out of your breathing air if you don’t keep your system clean.

For FHA or HVAC systems, you should hire a professional once a year to thoroughly clean your units heating and/or cooling coil(s), the related blowers/fans, the plenum(s), all related ductwork, all related air intake and air output vents and louvers, and most importantly the filter should be a disposable HEPA type, it should be sealed air tight into the plenum (absolutely all intake air must be filtered with no bypassing of the filter occurring), and the HEPA filter must be changed about once a month in a normal household with pets and smokers, perhaps every two months if you don’t smoke and have no pets.  Look at the filter every week, and have sealed spares on hand.

Regardless of how much you think it will cost in your time or a hired professionals services, you’ll find you easily save that amount of money and most likely much more per year by eliminating the environmental pollutants and mold spores from your breathing environment.   You’ll also be eliminating doctor and hospital visits and throwing away your over the counter and prescription allergy medications along with their nasty health destroying side effects.

You can’t put a price on quality of life and good health.  Imagine no more cold or flu like symptoms, no more daily fatigue, no more recurring headaches and earaches, no more coughing and sneezing on a daily basis, elimination of your asthma like and COPD symptoms, and a much better deeper nights sleep.  Then imagine needing to dust your property just once a week or less instead of twice a day or more, which no ones does.  A clean indoor environment is a healthy one!

If your in the New England Area, I recommend you contact A-1 Mold Pro at for all your FHA or HVAC CLEANING, mold consultation, mold removal, mold testing, fungicide fogging, Lead Paint Testing and Removal, and Concrete Sealing and Basement Waterproofing needs!  When in doubt, hire a professional, you’ll be glad you did!



February 20, 2012

CLEANING YOUR ATTIC Attics are notorious places for collecting junk as well as for harboring mold growth that can affect your entire property and it occupants health. It’s imperative that your attic spaces remain as dry and cool as possible year round.  Any attic regardless of how it is constructed, angle of roof pitch, accessible […]

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December 17, 2011

Cleaning Your Kitchen/Bathroom Take a look under you kitchen sink and bathroom vanities.  They are probably filled with a multitude of cleaners, chemicals, old sponges and dish cloths, rusty stainless steel pads, detergents in leaking containers or no longer used condition, moldy rags and sponges, toilet paper, paper towels, and heaven knows what else packed […]

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December 16, 2011

Cleaning Your Basement/Garage The best way to prevent mold is to keep your entire indoor environment clean.  A clean environment is a mold resistant environment and if done right, pretty close to a mold free environment. The first areas you should concentrate on in your home are the garage and the basement.  Both of these […]

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When To Hire A Professional

September 11, 2011

WHEN TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL ? Unless you have a solid background in chemistry, micro-biology, physics, and construction, the average mold infestation is well beyond the Do-It-Yourself level. A good rule of thumb is if your mold removal and/or remediation project will involve filling more than one trash bag with debris or use more than […]

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September 9, 2011

DO IT YOURSELF MOLD REMOVAL How large an area is feasible for do-it-yourself? For very small areas of mold infestation, (less than 4 square feet) a well protected properly prepared and manually skilled homeowner can remove, bag, and dispose of the effected sheetrock, insulation, and rotted wood, etc., then HEPA vacuum, and disinfect the area […]

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September 7, 2011

WHAT GETS RID OF MOLD ? I get this question everyday and the answer is always the same. Only a Certified Mold Professional using EPA and FDA approved Fungicides in multiple chemical steps combined with proper removal techniques can actually permanently remove your mold. There is no scientific proof nor any real world experience that […]

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August 11, 2011

BLEACH WON’T KILL MOLD ! So you’ve got a mold problem, you can see the black mold growing on your basement walls, basement ceilings, sheetrock, underside of your attic sheathing, and etc.  So what do you do?  Various quacks on the internet say to remove mold with Bleach. The EPA and the FEMA websites also […]

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August 5, 2011

LET THERE BE LIGHT ! OK, so now you have your foundation and surrounding landscaped areas virtually mold free by using crushed stone, pervious pavers, and etc. which will eliminate standing water, erosion, puddling, and toxic mold spores from decaying mulch.  The next thing you need to do to help control mold both indoors and […]

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