How to Clean Attic Mold, Kill It, Or Maybe Forget Attic Mold Remediation – It Could Be Cheaper

House attic mold is one of the most “popular” items in my property inspection reports. And now is time for an explanation of how to kill mold and / or how to clean mold in the attic. But before I do that, let me give you a little advice, something to consider before you sign a few (if you’re lucky) thousand dollars contract agreement with a mold remediation company.

Attic mold remediation TIP – an alternative (to consider):

Let us assume that you are in the middle of a real-estate transaction, and the home inspector just revealed to you, that your entire house attic is contaminated with mold.

If you have a brand new roof, you can only blame yourself or try to blame the roofing contractor for not checking the attic before replacing the roof (he will laugh at you unless you’ve actually asked the guy to check the attic before the roof replacement). If you have an older roof, the importance of this advice is even greater.

Call at least 2-3 mold remediation companies for an estimate – specify to the representatives, that you not only want to have the mold removed, but also attic ventilation system corrected / installed if necessary / ask if the attic insulation requires replacement.

With the numbers from the mold remediation contractors, call 2-3 roofing contractors, and ask them for a quote on the roof replacement cost including decking boards / plywood (ask the roofer to check the attic area), attic ventilation improvement, and insulation if necessary.

Be cautious if they only suggest humidistat controlled power vent installation – without properly functioning soffit vents or any type of vents along the lower portion of the roof this might not be an adequate solution.

If the attic insulation replacement is not required (it most cases it will not be possible to tell without laboratory testing), make sure it’s sealed with plastic foil before the roof and its decking replacement. Fold the foil sealing its contents after the contaminated decking has been removed, and dispose of as a regular waste (EPA recommendation).

If you only have a small area of attic contaminated with mold, the roof replacement option would be more expensive. But with an entire attic that needs mold remediation, it might be cheaper (or even much cheaper) to remove all contaminated decking, install completely new roof and correct ventilation issues.

I have seen $3,000.00 – $10,000.00 invoices for the attic mold remediation process in approximately 1000 square feet of attic area.

Benefits of the roof / decking replacement over the mold removal:

  • roof and decking replacement might be cheaper than cleaning of an entire attic contaminated with mold
  • the real-estate transaction killing mold is gone
  • attic ventilation improvement is much easier during the roof replacement and often handled with no significant / additional cost
  • the buyer gets a brand new roof

Even if the roof replacement price is slightly higher than the mold remediation process, it is still worth to take it under the consideration because you are gaining a valuable house update (new roof), that will be disclosed on a real-estate listing.

In some cases, the roof decking and framing are contaminated, and replacement of the decking only would not entirely solve the problem. In such case, you’d have to clean contaminated joist or trusses.

How to kill mold and how to clean mold in the attic.

This is not a mold killing or mold cleaning case study, it is just an explanation based on my observations and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommendations.

Even if you are dealing with a small contaminated attic area – 10′ x 10′ is the maximum area recommended by the EPA to be treated by non-professionals, forget about killing mold with spraying it with bleach or other disinfectants. It ‘s been confirmed by laboratory testing that it does not kill all of the spores and in most cases you’ll be just making a mess.

The best way to kill the attic mold (just like any other mold) is to remove it from the surface it’s growing on, or remove the contaminated surface!

EPA recommends four mold cleanup methods and all of them can be applied in the attic, assuming that it is a small area (up to 10 sq. feet).

  1. You can clean the surface by using a wet vacuum – the type you can fill its tank partially with water to contain mold residue from the contaminated surface
  2. Wipe the surface with a damp sponge or rag – use clean water or wood cleaner
  3. Use high efficiency HEPA vacuum cleaner on thoroughly dried surfaces, and dispose of the picked-up contents in well-sealed plastic bags
  4. Remove all contaminated material, seal it in plastic and dispose of as a regular waste. They recommend using HEPA vacuum after this, but in the attic you’d most likely have to remove the floor insulation (if contaminated). You can also cover the insulation with plastic foil, and fold the foil sealing its contents after the cleaning process.

You may or may not have any allergic reactions to mold. However, always use protective equipment, especially in the attic area where you are exposed to the insulation fibers and dust.

As a minimum protection during the mold removing procedure EPA recommends: Gloves, N-95 respirator and eye protection (preferably fully enclosed goggles). As an additional protection you can add half face respirator or full face respirator with HEPA filter, disposable full body clothing, head gear, and foot coverings.

How to clean mold if large section or an entire attic is contaminated

I personally wouldn’t even attempt to do it myself, so my suggestion is:

Use a professional mold remediation company:

  • check their background and check it manually by calling their clients
  • ask for clients who had their attic mold remediated approximately 1 year ago – it usually takes a winter for the mold to start growing again if the job wasn’t fully completed
  • Insist on removing the mold completely instead of encapsulating it (Media Blasting methods give the best results).
  • Encapsulation is simply a process of covering the mold contaminated surface with paint (paint like product) that contains (or at least some of them do) mold killing chemicals

If your attic mold is properly removed and all of the issues responsible for its growth corrected, which is even more important than mold removing, it will not re-grow / no need for encapsulating.

  • Hire a different contractor for mold testing and mold remediation to eliminate conflict of interest.
  • Make sure that you perform an independent clearance test after the mold remediation process completion.
  • Clearance test is to determine if there are any mold spores remaining in the previously contaminated area

Extremely important – examine the attic (or have somebody do it for you) after the mold cleaning procedure is finished.

All wood (framing and decking) surfaces should be perfectly clean (like brand new), unless there was some rotting that resulted from leaking roof or extremely humid conditions in the attic – those sections of wood should be either replaced or reinforced from underneath. You don’t want anyone to fall through the roof while servicing it or just inspecting.

Baffles – An Attics’ Money Saving Device

Are attics supposed to be hot? What about the air movement? Mold in your attics? All three questions have one thing in common. The answer to all three is to improve the ventilation in the attic. Proper installation of baffles in the attic can improve ventilation, increase air movement and eliminate or greatly reduce the chances of mold in your area above the top floor.

Baffles are inserts that improve the air flow from the soffits, or lower vents. Sometimes called overhang vents. They are constructed of plastic, a Styrofoam type of material or cardboard. The design of the baffle can be in a “U” shape with “ears” or square. Square ones are normally constructed of cardboard.

How do they work? As stated earlier, baffles are inserted at the soffits vent to increase air movement from the bottom of the attic to the venting system at the top of the roof. Baffles can also save money in the long run by:

• Decreasing utility bills.

• Extend the life cycle of your roof

• Reduce the chances of ice damming or mold formation.

• Keep the area below the attic in a more comfortable temperature.

Installation of baffles is relatively cheap and can be handled by the homeowner. It is rather labor intensive, plus you must use all safety precautions when installing these. Safety measures include long sleeve shirts, long pants, hard hat, eye protection, and a respiratory mask. Utilizing some sort of board system to use for flooring is also a good idea. You don’t want to put your foot through the ceiling below. I suggest this be done in the early spring or mid to late fall as it does get pretty warm in the attic. Even during that time frame, hydrate often!

On installation, the first thing you need to do, after getting all of your supplies in the attic, is to bring back the insulation above the soffits vent about six inches. Insert the baffle as far down as it goes, push the insulation against the baffle, then tack the top of the baffle to the roof decking. Use staples not nails. Insert the baffles at each section between rafters or at a minimum at every other section. Whether the baffle is constructed of cardboard, Styrofoam or plastic, they all contribute to a better ventilated attic.

The use of baffles can and does save the homeowner money over the long haul. Sure, installation can be a bit tedious, but you will be glad you spent the weekend or a couple of days in the attic with the payback in costs. While you may feel the cost of the baffle is a bit more than you thought, utilizing baffles will pay themselves back multiple times.

Breathe Easy At Home: Four Tips To Improve Indoor Air Quality

The quality of the air inside your home is very important to the health of you and your family. Poor quality indoor air can result in many negative health effects, including breathing disorders, respiratory ailments and more. Improving the indoor air quality in the home can help all of the members of the family breathe a little easier.

1. Control Sources Of Air Pollution

One of the most efficient ways to improve the quality of the air inside the home is to maintain control of any air pollution sources that could contaminate the interior air. Control methods include the elimination of harmful contaminants (such as asbestos), reducing emission levels by reducing the usage of combustion sources (such as wood burning fireplaces, gas-fueled stoves, or smoking tobacco products) within the home, and using high quality air filters near emission sources to quickly remove pollutants from the air. Controlling sources of air pollution is viewed as one of the most cost effective ways to maintain good indoor air quality because it rarely increases energy costs.

2. Improve Ventilation in the Home

Another method used to improve indoor air quality is improving the ventilation of the home so that contaminated air is removed and replaced with fresh air on a routine basis. Many types of home heating and cooling systems simply recycle the air that is inside the home without adding fresh air from outside the home, allowing levels of contaminants to build up until they reach levels that can be harmful to your health. Opening windows in the home during nice weather and operating window or attic fans can improve ventilation in the home by a significant amount.

3. Make Use Of Exhaust Portals

Many of the areas in the home that routinely create indoor air contaminants are equipped with exhaust portals that remove them from the room where the portal is located. For example, kitchen exhaust portals can typically be found above the stove to remove smoke and cooking odors from the kitchen before they can spread to the rest of the home. Most bathrooms are equipped with exhaust portals and fans to remove smells and other contaminants. Using these exhaust portals can also increase ventilation in the home by replacing the air removed from the home with fresh air from outdoors.

4. Choose High Quality Air Filters

A wide variety of air conditioner filters are available on the market, ranging from inexpensive flat panel models to high performance pleated air filters. Many of the high quality varieties of these air filter models are capable of removing numerous types of contaminants and particulates from indoor air, with high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value), indicating high particle removal effectiveness. Certain models of high quality air filters contain activated carbon to aid in the removal of gaseous pollutants from the air. Choosing a high quality air filter to filter the air in your home will improve the quality of the air inside your home considerably and will reduce the risk of health complications arising due to the inhalation of harmful contaminants.