March 8, 2010
Nature has a very effective system of balancing the environment. Mold and fungus in the outdoors is natural and necessary in many settings. However, in the “built” environment – our homes and offices – it can lead to destruction of materials and harm human health.
What else do I know about mold? Not much, except to say that if you are not trained and certified in mold remediation, you should pass on jobs where training is required. Fortunately, I do have an understanding of some of the tools used successfully in discovery, treatment and cleaning of mold.
While the following is certainly not a complete list of tools for mold remediation, it should give you a primer on some of the more useful gadgets being used today.
DiscoveryThe borescope is a simple and inexpensive tool for getting a view of what’s going on inside a wall cavity – a favorite place for mold activity. A powerful lamp illuminates dark areas so you can check for mold, wet materials and other problems on the video screen, which can capture a picture or video for your documentation. A ¼-inch hole is all that is needed for entry of the flexible cable. There is also an angled mirror attachment available for viewing around tricky corners.
Now a favorite and oft-used tool for water damage restorers, the infrared camera can be very useful in the discovery of mold. Mold is going to grow most actively where moisture is present. The IR camera is amazingly sensitive, and can help locate moisture that is otherwise not visible with the naked eye. It makes you feel a little bit like Superman with X-ray vision.
The IR camera doesn’t actually “see” deep into materials; it identifies potential wet areas by detecting differences in the temperature on the surface of the materials.
Recent advancements in technology have made the cameras very affordable compared to what they were just a few years ago. IR cameras will vary widely in price, depending on features and components. There are currently cameras available under $2,000 that offer very good performance.
RemovalA particularly useful gadget for removing mold from a surface is the Scravac tool. This is an 8-inch long aluminum tool that you hold in your hand and is connected to a vacuum hose. It should always be used with a HEPA vacuum and other containment and safety gear.
The tool has a narrow profile so it can get in the hard-to-reach places. With its unique design, it ensures the capture of small particles on either horizontal or vertical surfaces. The Scravac uses a universal blade attachment that allows for easy replacement of the scraping tip. It has a built-in adapter so it will fit a variety of vacuum hose sizes. The Scravac is also useful for scraping paint and asbestos removal.
ContainmentKeeping the dangers of mold from unaffected areas is integral to proper remediation. The invention of EZ-ier tape has added to the efficiency and efficacy of containment systems.
The tape allows you to construct containment barriers on finished and unfinished surfaces in no time. It is double-faced: masking tape on one side and high-tack cloth tape on the other. The masking tape attaches to the wall surface, while the cloth surface holds the poly film in place. When I first saw this used I was surprised how well it held up to negative pressure. When the job was finished, removal was the tape was surprisingly quick and easy.
The ZipWall system is an industry favorite and, like most of the tools I’m describing, is available at your local distributor. With the ZipWall, containment is created by using spring-loaded poles topped with jacks that hold the poly sheeting in place. The pole system is available in 10-, 12- or 20-foot heights and is adjustable.
The ZipWall system can be used in conjunction with the EZ-ier tape system to create more durable and resistant structures. There are also accessories, such as foam rails that can be attached to the ZipWall poles to help press the sheeting to the ceiling or walls.
ApplicationThe first time I saw Magnet Spray demonstrated, the guy held up an apple and sprayed white paint, aiming at the front of the apple. To my amazement it did just what he said it would, coating both sides of the apple.
Magnet Spray produces a highly charged, high-speed air stream that applies chemicals. A patented nozzle design uses compressed air and advanced solid-state circuitry to produce a 12-foot plume consisting of very small, like-sized, electrically charged droplets. This perfect cloud of evenly spaced droplets is attracted – like a magnet – to targeted areas, wrapping around the tops, sides and bottoms of surfaces to provide a uniform coating. This remarkable phenomenon is called electrostatic ‘wraparound.’ It can be used in application of antimicrobial coatings, disinfectants, etc.
Mold remediation is a tedious and not always pleasant job. However, having the proper tools can help ensure that the job flows smoothly and is properly executed.