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42 Brinker Rd. Barrington, IL 60010  
(847) 842-2525

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Abate Blog



What is mold? Mold is neither plant nor animal, it’s a FUNGUS. Fungi are in a kingdom all by themselves. It is also EVERYWHERE. Mold spores are in the air you breath, they’re on your clothes right now and they enter your home every time you open a door or window. They even hitch a ride into your house on the bottom of your shoes. It is ubiquitous. And believe it or not, that’s OK.

Mold is an incredibly important part of our ecosystem, so long as the ecosystem we’re talking about is outside. The problems occur when those mold spores start growing in the ecosystem that is the inside of our homes. In order for that to happen it needs food, water and heat.

Like all living organisms Mold needs food in order to survive. One of the most common sources of nutrients is cellulose. Two of the main sources of cellulose in a home are wood and the paper on drywall. Mold digests it’s food by secreting enzymes to break down cellulose and then absorbs the nutrients through their cell walls. The spots and splotches that you associate with mold growth may be black, green, blue, yellow or even red. These colors are not only a result of the species of mold that is growing but staining from the enzymes breaking down its food source.

One of the challenges in killing mold has to do with its cellular structure. Mold is made up of filaments called hyphae. These filamentous branches attach themselves to porous surfaces such as wood or the paper on drywall. In many species of molds, the hyphae contain a chemical called chitin. Chitin is the hard substance that makes up the shells of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs. Chitin protects mold by making their cell walls strong and rigid.

Enter our good friend Sodium Hypochlorite. You may know sodium hypochlorite by its more common name, BLEACH. Bleach is indeed useful in killing surface mold spores and does an excellent job of getting rid of the staining that accompanies mold growth. However, bleach won’t penetrate surfaces deep enough to kill the hyphae. In fact, when you spray bleach on wood or drywall what is getting absorbed by those materials is mostly water. So, you may have killed the surface mold and gotten rid of much of the staining but in reality, you’ve just given the mold one of the things it needs most. Water.

So to kill mold in an attic, bathroom or basement you need a chemical that can penetrate wood and paper deep enough to destroy the hyphae and one of the best and greenest is Hydrogen Peroxide. Yup, that hydrogen peroxide. The stuff you put on a cut. The liquid in the brown bottle on the drug store shelf. H2O2.

Like bleach, hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer. When applied, an oxygen atom is released and oxidizes (kills) not only the surface mold but the hyphae as well, as it penetrates wood and paper deeper than bleach will. When the chemical reaction is complete all that is left is water.

A word of caution, do not mix hydrogen peroxide with any other chemicals or household cleaners unless you have seen a Material Safety Data Sheet saying it is safe and effective to do so. Mixing any household cleaners together can be vary dangerous. For example: mixing bleach and ammonia will create Chloramine Vapor which is highly toxic. Likewise, mixing hydrogen peroxide with vinegar will create Peracetic Acid which can be very corrosive.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that areas of mold that are less than 10 square feet can usually be addressed by a homeowner. Should you choose to do it yourself using hydrogen peroxide make sure the area is well ventilated, wear rubber gloves, eye protection, long sleeved shirt and a face mask. For an area 10 square feet or less, a pint of hydrogen peroxide should be enough and should cost about $3.00. Use a spray bottle to apply and wait about 10 minutes before wiping it off. Make sure you discard the cloths in a safe place outside the house. Note that some staining may remain after using this method.

So, what do you do if you have a large area of mold in an area such as an attic? Now’s the time to call Abate Restoration. The cost of removing mold from an attic starts at about $1400 and goes up depending on the size, complexity, height and the amount insulation.

As a rough rule of thumb, it costs about $1400 for the first 500 square feet and $1.50 to $2.00 for each additional square foot. The reason the first 500 square feet costs so much is that mold remediation requires quite a lot of prep work such as covering the floors leading to the attic opening with plastic and the building of a plastic chamber, called containment, to prevent the cross contamination of the house. The cost of the preparatory work is about the same for a small house as it is for a larger house.

If you have any questions regarding mold removal, please call Abate Restoration at 847-842-2525 for a free consultation and estimate.