Mold is everywhere. It just is, though I wish that weren’t the case. Even in arid climates, mold can show up and spoil a beautiful home. Luckily, if you catch it before it begins to spread, mold can be a quick-but-annoying nuisance to take care of. If it spreads, though, expect to be in for a big headache. So let’s prevent that headache with a few tips to remediate mold in your investment properties.
To get rid of mold, make sure that you’re wearing the proper safety gear. First, remove the mold’s food source, which can be leaky faucets or damp drywall. Create a solution of bleach, lemon juice, and water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the contaminated area thoroughly and use a disposable scrub brush over the mold.
There’s a little more nuance to it than that, so let’s go a little further in this article. Keep reading for info on how mold gets in your investment properties, what you can do about it, and just how dangerous the situation actually is. Let’s dive in.
Why Should I Worry About Mold?
While every property has some form of mold growing around it, mold is something that should be taken seriously once noticed.
Mold is transmitted through the air via tiny spores. These spores can travel and plant themselves into most things, so long as they have moisture and not a lot of light. That’s why you’ll often find mold in dark, damp places like basements or broken seals around showers.
Small mold infestations aren’t usually a big problem unless you have pre-existing conditions that are irritated by mold, like allergies or asthma. That said, once mold begins to spread, it can become dangerous and sometimes fatal.
There are hundreds of different mold species out there, and I know you probably aren’t interested in reading an encyclopedia-style post dedicated to the types of mold. You’re here to learn how to get rid of it, not the history of it! I’ll drop a link here to the EPA’s website that digs deeper and has lots of mold fun facts if you’d like to head down that rabbit hole.
How Do I Find Mold?
Mold also likes drywall as it’s full of tasty starches that it loves to eat. Check along the seams of your drywall, particularly at the top and bottom, where it meets the floor or ceiling.
Next, check around areas that are prone to having lots of moisture. Bathrooms are hotbeds for mold, especially if they’re not well-ventilated. Leaky kitchen faucets can also create mold breeding grounds inside cabinets, so check to make sure all pipes are properly sealed.
You should look for splotches of discoloration, as mold is rarely camouflaged. You may only find one or two spots or could stumble on a terrifyingly large colony of spores. Regardless of the amount, once you see mold, it needs to be taken care of ASAP.
What Should I Do if I Find Mold?
Whether you’re working on a fix & flip or rental, you must take steps to stop the mold in its tracks as quickly as possible. Mold can spread if left untreated, and the bigger the infestation, the more expensive it will be to treat.
First, always make sure to wear the proper protective gear to ensure your safety. Gloves, eye goggles, and a face mask are a bare minimum as you don’t want spores getting into your lungs or eyes. If you’re dealing with a large mold population and will have to do lots of scrubbing, it’s worth the extra cost to invest in disposable HAZMAT-style suits that go over your clothing.
Next, correct whatever is causing the mold to thrive. This may involve fixing leaks, caulking seams, and installing better ventilation. Do this before attempting to clear out the mold, as you don’t want to give any spores you’ve missed a chance to reproduce.
Finally, start cleaning. I like to use a combination of bleach, lemon juice, and water as the antibacterial properties in the bleach and lemon juice are typically able to kill off most colonies. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and saturate the area. Then take a dedicated scrub brush and work the solution into the mold spores. Make sure to dispose of the scrub brush after use.
If you have a small colony, then you could get away with just cleaning up the mold and calling it a day. However, if it’s a massive infestation, you might need to replace drywall, cabinets, or anything else the mold has called home.
If you have a colony that has completely taken over a room, it might be in your best interest to bring in specialists to help remove the mold. Removing mold takes a lot of manual labor so consider how much your time is worth and if it might just be easier to get a pro to do it instead.
Can my Tenants Stay While I Remediate Mold?
Generally speaking, yes, most tenants should be able to stay while the mold is being cleaned up. However, I’m not a doctor, and your tenants may have underlying conditions which make them more susceptible to lung irritation caused by mold. Pregnant women should also be particularly cautious. If your tenants prefer to leave while the mold is being cleaned up, I’d respect that and help make arrangements if possible. Don’t play around when it comes to the health and well-being of everyone involved; it could end up being way more costly than a night at a hotel.
Things You Should NOT Do if You Find Mold
If you find mold in your properties, it’s critical that you address it as quickly as possible. What you don’t want to do is paint over it or try to conceal the mold in any way. Painting over mold spots before they’re corrected will let the mold fester and spread, except this time it’s behind the scenes.
While mold isn’t my favorite thing to find in my properties, it’s just part of the industry. When you come across mold spots, don’t panic; remember that it’s very common and can show up no matter how hard you try. Remove it as quickly as you can, and make sure to take the proper steps to ensure your safety and the safety of those who will be living in the home.