Link to the Blog copied to clipboard.
Homeowners Insurance

How to Prevent Mold Growth After a Hurricane

“Mold and mildew” is a common phrase – but what does it mean, really? How can it be bad if it’s all around us? And, if we’re better off without it in our homes, what’s the best way to get rid of it or prevent mold growth in the first place? If you’ve got questions like these, you’re in luck because we’ve got answers.

What Is Mold & Mildew?

You’ve probably seen mold growing on old leftovers in the fridge, or in bathrooms, around the tub or shower. Mold may look slightly fuzzy or slimy and can appear as specks, stains, or patches with a tendency to get larger over time. It can appear in various colors, such as white, black, brown, gray, green, yellow, or orange. If there’s enough of it, mold can give off a musty smell.

Mold is a type of microscopic, multicellular fungi. It feeds on dead organic material and reproduces using spores. Mildew is a less entrenched, less severe type of mold. Mildew is usually flat, whereas mold may appear more textured. The term “mildew” is also commonly used to describe the growth of mold.

What makes mold and mildew so insidious are their sheer abundance – there are believed to be millions of different fungal species, including more than 1,000 indoor molds – and their ability to spread and worsen quickly, if not stopped.

Conditions Favoring Mold Growth

Mold is found anywhere, inside and outside the home, where moisture and oxygen are present. Mold spores are present in the air, although in very small amounts. They might come into the home via open doors, windows, AC systems – or on your clothes or pets. Once in the home, mold spores require moisture. It’s why mold growth occurs in damp, unaired locations – such as bathrooms or near anything with a crack or leak, which can let water into the home, such as the roof, windows, walls, or pipes.

Why Stop Mold Growth in Its Tracks?

As a mold colony grows and gets larger, more mold spores are released into the air. This can have a negative health impact for anyone in the home. Respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, runny nose) are a common reaction to mold growth, but it can be even more severe for those with asthma or allergies. Mold can also permanently decay or stain the surfaces it grows on. And, the more invasive the mold growth in the house, the more expensive it can be to remove.

Hurricanes & Mold Growth: An Action Plan

Because hurricanes bring a lot of rainwater, high-velocity winds, and potential flooding to homes along its path, it’s no wonder mold growth after a storm is of particular concern to Florida homeowners.

Mold needs moisture to grow – so, the key to controlling mold in the home is moisture control. After a hurricane passes through, this means quickly eliminating any excess water in the home. What you will need to do will depends on whether rising water entered the home, or if water got in through a broken window, roof leak, or similar cause. In the latter case, fixing the leak is imperative. No matter how well you clean, unless you put a stop to the influx of moisture into the home, mold growth will continue.

It is also critically important to dry water-damaged areas of your home as soon as possible. Mold growth can begin within 24-48 hours after water damage occurs. And it will only continue to worsen until it is appropriately addressed.  

Here are some tips to help address mold growth after a hurricane:

Ventilate: Increase ventilation in water-damaged areas, such as using a fan, blow dryer, or dehumidifier – or opening a window or door. The most important thing is to dry any wet/moist areas of your home ASAP. If you can see mold growth already, don’t use a fan or blow dryer in the area until after you’ve cleaned/removed the mold; otherwise, you may just spread mold spores to other areas of the home.

Protect yourself: Wear a mask, goggles, and rubber gloves before you attempt to clean moldy areas. Make sure the area you’re working in is as well-ventilated as possible.

Soap & water works: What you use to remove the mold will depend on the surface it’s on. For example, the CDC recommends using soap and water or a bleach solution for hard, nonporous surfaces, such as ceramic tiles, stainless steel, and glass. Vinegar can also be used on porous and nonporous surfaces, but it may damage some surfaces. If using a disinfectant (such as a bleach solution), it should be applied after the mold is removed. Never mix bleach with ammonia or similar cleaning products – it creates a poisonous gas.

Toss it if you can’t dry it: If you are unable to completely dry a water-damaged object in your home after a hurricane (e.g., upholstered furniture, carpeting, rugs, shoes), remove them from the home and discard.  

For areas prone to mold growth: To prevent mold growth in bathrooms and other high-moisture areas, try increasing ventilation in the area and cleaning it more frequently. Paying attention and looking for the earliest signs of mold or mildew will help you address mold growth problems when they’re small and most manageable.  

If the amount of mold in your home is extensive, or you suspect there may be hidden mold – such as within AC ducts, behind wallpaper, drywall, or walls – contact an experienced mold remediation professional. In the interim, use plastic tarps to seal off moldy rooms until they are professionally cleaned to reduce your exposure to mold.

Florida Homeowners Insurance You Can Trust

At The Windward Insurance Agency, we’ve got you covered. Whether you need home, condo, renter’s, flood, auto, boat, or even commercial property insurance, we can make sure you’ve got the right coverage in place to take care of problems like mold growth after a hurricane.  

We can get you the quotes and coverage options right for you and your family. Get an online quote or call us today at (866) 231-2433 to find out more.