Getting Rid of Mold in Your Attic
Getting rid of mold in the attic used to be one of the most “popular” concerns addressed by my clients after the home inspection. I’ve already covered why is black mold growing under the roof, and how to prevent or stop attic black mold from growing in my previous posts.
Now is time for getting rid of mold in your attic
But before I explain the “typical” way of getting rid of mold, let me give you a little advice, something to consider before you sign a few (if you lucky) thousand dollars contract agreement with a mold remediation company.
Getting rid of mold in the attic TIP (to consider):
- Let’s 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 black 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’ll 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 getting rid of mold 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), and your attic ventilation improvement.
Be cautious if they only suggest humidistat controlled power vent installation – without properly functioning soffit vents, any type of vents along the lower portion of the roof, or gable vents, 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 black mold, the roof replacement option would be more expensive. But instead of getting rid of mold from an entire attic by performing black mold remediation procedures, it might be cheaper (or even much cheaper) to remove all contaminated decking, install completely new roof and correct ventilation issues. I’ve seen $3,000.00 – $10,000.00 invoices for the attic black mold remediation process in approximately 1000 – 1200 square feet of attic area.
Benefits of getting rid of mold in your attic by replacing the roof
- A few befits of the roof / decking replacement over the other types of getting rid of mold procedures:
- roof and decking replacement might be cheaper than getting rid of mold be cleaning an entire black mold contaminated attic
- the house attic black mold that was killing your real-estate transaction is gone
- attic ventilation improvement is much easier during the roof replacement and often handled with no additional or insignificant cost
- after getting rid of mold using this method the buyer gets a brand new roof
Even if the roof replacement price is slightly higher than getting rid of mold with a traditional mold remediation process, it is still worth to take it under the consideration because you’re 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 decking replacement only would not entirely solve the problem. In such case, you’d have to clean mold contaminated joists and / or trusses.
Killing attic black mold and getting rid of mold the typical way
This isn’t a black 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’re dealing with a small mold contaminated attic area – 10′ x 10′ is the maximum area recommended by the EPA to be treated by non-professionals, forget about getting rid of mold / killing mold by spraying it with bleach or other disinfectants. It ‘s been confirmed by laboratory testing that they don’t kill all of the spores and in most cases you’ll be just making a mess.
The best way for getting rid of mold in the attic (black mold and any other mold) is to remove it from the surface it’s growing on, or remove the contaminated surface!
The following “getting rid of mold” / cleanup methods are recommended by EPA and all of them can be applied in the attic, assuming that it is a small area (up to 10 sq. feet).
- Getting rid of mold contaminated surface by using a wet vacuum – the type you can fill its tank partially with water to contain mold residue from the contaminated surface
- Wipe the surface with a damp sponge or rag – use clean water or wood cleaner
- Use high efficiency HEPA vacuum cleaner on thoroughly dried surfaces, and dispose of the picked-up contents in well-sealed plastic bags
- 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 the attic black mold. However, while getting rid of mold always use protective equipment, especially while working in the attic area where you are exposed to the insulation fibers and dust.
Also, as a minimum protection while getting rid of mold 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.
Getting rid of mold in the attic if large section or an entire attic is contaminated
I personally wouldn’t even attempt to do it myself, so my suggestion is:
- For getting rid of mold in a heavily contaminated attic 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 1-2 years ago – it usually takes a winter for the mold to start growing again if the job wasn’t fully completed.
Insist on removing the attic black 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.
The video below explains getting rid of mold in the attic with soda blast mold remediation process, and you can immediately see the results of this procedure.
After properly getting rid of mold in your attic and having all of the issues responsible for black mold 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! – personally examine the attic (or have somebody you can trust do it for you) after getting rid of mold / performing mold cleaning procedures. I’m not exaggerating – I’ve seen several attics after “professionally performed remediation”, they either didn’t know the correct way of getting rid of mold in the attic or they didn’t care (close to $10000 price tag!).
After getting rid of mold the wood 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.
This concludes getting rid of mold in the attic & killing mold in contaminated attic but I highly recommend to go a little deeper into the “attic” subject by reading my other posts in “attic” category.
Search existing Q&A at: Attic Area Questions