Find a property restoration professional near Sunnyvale, CA

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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How is a mold test done?

Mold testing can help identify a mold infestation in your home or business. The EPA explains that if you have a visible mold problem, in most cases sampling and testing is unnecessary. However, if you have unexplained and potential mold-related illness or can smell mold in your house, mold inspection costs may be a good investment.

To avoid unscrupulous testers, the EPA recommends working with a testing agency that adheres to the analytical methods laid out by professional organizations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association or the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists

If you suspect there's mold growing in your home, contact the best mold removal experts to get it tested.

What is mold remediation and how does it work?

Mold remediation is the process of identifying and removing unhealthy levels of mold that have colonized in a home, office, school or other building. Over time, if untreated, mold can destroy a home by breaking down cellulose-based materials (like wood or ceiling tiles) and causing a slow and messy decay. In the shorter term, a mold infestation can cause severe health problems.

If mold has been positively identified in your house, either by visual examination or through mold testing, remediation can safely remove it. Properly trained and equipped professionals use specialized equipment (like vacuums and air scrubbers with HEPA filters) to keep mold spores contained while they remove contaminated materials and treat infested areas with antimicrobial spray. 

Here's an example of the steps involved in professional mold remediation:

  • Contain work area and apply negative air pressure HEPA air purifiers to prevent cross-contamination. If spores spread, the colonies can easily regrow elsewhere in your home.
  • Mist an EPA-registered antimicrobial to suspend and kill mold spores.
  • Remove affected building surfaces.
  • Bag and dispose of contaminated materials properly.
  • Treat cavities/underlayment and dehumidify.
  • Abrasively remove dead loose mold.
  • Apply EPA-registered protective sealer.
  • Perform clearance testing.
  • Remove containment materials.

A key component to a successful mold remediation after eliminating the mold is ensuring that the water source that caused the mold infestation is also resolved.

If you think there's mold in your home, contact the best mold remediation experts immediately.

How often should you get your air ducts cleaned?

How often you should clean your air ducts depends on your situation. If you or someone in the home has asthma or is acutely allergic to certain airborne materials or pollen, regular duct cleaning may be helpful. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have an official position on the necessity of air duct cleaning unless the ducts have been contaminated by rodents, insects or mold, or you are aware of particles blowing out through the vents. The EPA recommends you have your air ducts cleaned on an as-needed basis. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests having air ducts cleaned every three to five years.

Be cautious with companies that offer “whole house air duct cleaning,” urges the NADCA. The company may be using unscrupulous tactics to upsell you once they get started. Before any work begins, always clarify in writing what the job entails and what the cost will be. To protect yourself against fraud, read customer reviews and verify that your HVAC cleaning service has applicable licenses and certifications.

How do you get rid of mold?

Hiring a mold remediation professional is usually the best strategy to get rid of unhealthy levels of mold in your home or office. If you’re not comfortable working with mold or the area is larger than 10 square feet (3 feet by 3 feet), it is highly recommended to hire a mold remediation professional to resolve the problem.

However, if you’re DIY-savvy, don’t have any health risks, and are not freaked out by mold, the EPA gives homeowners the greenlight to clean mold areas that are less than 10 square feet. Here are some EPA-recommended DIY cleaning tips:

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Throw away absorbent or porous materials (like ceiling tiles and carpet) if they become moldy.
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
  • If you are unsure about how to clean an item (art, fine furniture, etc.) consult a reputable specialist affiliated with a professional organization in their field.

How much does it cost to get rid of mold?

Mold inspection and remediation costs will vary based on the severity of your mold infestation. But typically, the cost can range from as low as $135 to $1,592.

The total square footage of your mold damage and mold colonization, the accessibility of the areas to be treated, and any demolition and repair work required will all affect how much it costs to get rid of mold. Mold remediation crews may also have a minimum fee for services to ensure their business expenses are met even when they take on small mold jobs.

To find out how much it will cost to remove mold from your home, contact the best mold remediation experts near you.

Can mold grow behind drywall?

Mold can grow behind drywall, in your attic, in the basement, under floors — mold can grow anywhere.

If your home has been exposed to excessive water due to flooding or heavy rains, if you have an old home with leaky pipes, or if you live in an area with high humidity, you need to be vigilant about mold. Mold is most easily identified by sight. You may see blooms of mold on furniture, on walls, or along the floor.

If you can spot mold, you probably don’t need to test for it and can save on mold inspection costs and direct your energies towards mold remediation. But if you’re not certain, you may need to contact a pro who can help you determine whether you have hidden mold. 

How long does it take to get rid of mold in a house?

You can never completely remove mold from your house; a small number of mold spores will always exist indoors and are a natural and helpful part of our world. However, if water or moisture is left unchecked inside your home and mold begins to colonize, it can pose a serious health risk. Mold remediation can quickly and safely remove a mold infestation from your home or office. Depending on the size of your problem, mold remediation might take anywhere from one to seven days (or more) to wipe out the major sources of mold in your home.

Mold growths (colonies) can establish within 24-48 hours, so it is important to act immediately if you have a water spill or leak — especially if you live in a hot or humid climate. If you are past the point of DIY and need professional help, mold remediation teams will come to your location, assess the extent of the mold problem, identify and rectify all water leaks and sources of dampness, identify all mold sources (both visible and hidden), use specialized equipment to contain and prevent migration of mold spores, safely remove contaminated materials, treat infested areas with approved antimicrobial sprays, dehumidify and dry the appropriate areas, and seal areas as needed.

What are the signs there's mold in your house?

First, mold tends to grow in places with high moisture. Have you had water damage recently or a leak in your home? Check these areas for visible mold growth.

Mold can appear in a variety of colors, including white, gray, brown, black or green. It may have a rough or velvety appearance, and it often grows on walls, ceilings, under floorboards, or on wood or wallpaper. Also, pay attention to the odors in your home. Mold tends to smell earthy or musty.

And lastly, keep track of your health for possible symptoms. Mold may cause asthma attacks (if you have asthma and are allergic to mold), running noses, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, difficulty breathing, skin irritation and more.

If you think you’re experiencing mold symptoms, hire a mold remediation specialist near you and perhaps even consult your doctor.

 

How much does it cost to have your air ducts cleaned?

If you’re concerned about dust, allergens or mold, it may be time to have your air ducts cleaned. The national average cost for air duct cleaning ranges from $190 to $250. Air duct cleaning costs will vary based on a number of factors such as your location in the country, the age and condition of your air ducts, the number of linear feet to be cleaned, and any repairs your ducts may need. HVAC cleaning companies should clearly outline what is included in their services and at what rate, so always make sure you understand and have a written agreement before work begins. Here are some examples of average air duct cleaning costs:

  • Tiered pricing for different levels of service:
    • Standard cleaning: $100, which may include truck-mounted industrial vacuums, high-pressure air wands and air snakes to clean all supply and return vents, branch lines, and main trunk lines.
    • Advanced cleaning: $200, which may include standard cleaning services, plus rotobrush or viper clean sweep in the main trunk lines.
    • Ultimate cleaning: $400, which may include advanced cleaning, plus insertion of a viper microline into all vents to force debris down the branch lines and into the main trunk lines, to be handled by the viper clean sweep. Typically, all ductwork surface is contacted, before-and-after photos are provided, and the furnace is cleaned.
  • A flat rate for unlimited vents: $289.
  • Additional fees for larger houses: $20 for each additional 500 square feet over 2,500.

Is mold damage covered by insurance?

Mold damage may or may not be covered by your homeowner's insurance. It may be covered by insurance when an item already covered under your homeowners insurance breaks accidentally — for example, if your plumbing suddenly ruptures and water floods your house, the homeowners insurance will cover part or all of the costs for the plumbing repair and any mold remediation costs necessary as a direct result of the water damage.

But you may not be able to get insurance to pay for your mold remediation costs if the damage is a result of your neglect — for example, if you’ve had a slow leak under your bathroom sink for years and have ignored the issue. If the insurer can determine that the mold damage is a result of your negligence, they likely won’t cover mold remediation costs.

Also, most homeowners insurance will usually not cover mold remediation costs after a flood unless you have a special insurance rider covering your home in case of a flood.

To help prevent mold damage, always keep humidity levels in your house between 30 percent and 60 percent, clean up water spills and damp areas right away, and ensure you have exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom. And as soon as you suspect there's mold in your home, contact the best mold removal experts near you.

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