How to handle the mold problem in the basement?

I just found a quite serious mold problem in my unfinished basement---after peeling off the plastic covers and isolations (the first owner or the builder covered the isolation with the plastic sheets), I found an area of 10ft. X 5ft size on the wallboard are dark-black with several small spots rotten...I guess it's so-called black mold due to the long-time dampness. It's my first time buying a house and I feel very panic and depressed...would you please tell me how to do next? Contact my insurance company first? or find a mold cleanup company to have a free estimate first?
Since the bad situation and it involves some vertical supporting wooden poles for the first floor, I don't think the mold cleanup would do the work...maybe those wallboard and poles should be replaced---it's the huge work I think, which kind of company should I turn to? A construction company? I really don't have any experience about this issue. Please teach me. Thanks a lot in advance. - Mike
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Don't panic! And don't make any hasty decisions.
Spend some time on the Internet studying about mold problems.
Mold cleanup (remediation) companies are generally rip-off, quick-buck firms, although there may be some reputable ones.
Step #1 should be to find out *why* the mold grew. Is it too humid in the basement? If so, that needs to be fixed (dehumidifier).
If it is wallboard (drywall) that is moldy, the best answer may be to remove it rather than attempt remediation. The "poles" (studs?) could be saved, perhaps.
Here are a few links to get you started :
http://www.dehs.umn.edu/iaq/fungus / http://www3.sympatico.ca/ross.fraser/Richard9.htm http://www.toxic-black-mold-info.com/moldsigns.htm http://www.moldcheck.com/MoldCleanUp.asp http://www.molddamagecontrol.com/list.htm http://www.moldinspector.com/mold_removal.htm
Do a http://google.com / search for: Mold + Remediation
Thousands of pages. Many are from commercial "cleanup" companies, but there are some helpful sites out there as well.
Jim
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Thank you all! It's very kind of you and I really appreciate. Do you know, say in the yellow book, what kind of companies (remodeling? improvement?) I should ask to remove the wallboards? I don't think I can do it myself since the large board under vinyl is not easy to take off from the studs and also too heavy. Thanks again. - Mike
Speedy Jim wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I at least partly agree with Speedy. Don't panic, and don't trust most mold companies. Mold is normal and most molds are harmless. Do as Jim suggested and do your research. Keep in mind there will be some conflicting information. Consider the sources.
Before committing yourself to spending a lot of money call your insurance company and investigate the possibility that the prior owner may be responsible.
--
Joseph Meehan

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On Sun, 17 Jul 2005 22:30:11 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

Be careful. If the house gets labeled as one with a mold/water problem, he might find himself without insurance. Insurance companies have a sort of rating code regarding claims that stay with the house even for different owners. (I read that recently; unfortunately, I don't remember where. Reader's Digest, perhaps?)
From the article, it seems that the insurance companies for the buyer can't get access to the report with the code until the buyer owns the house, so a buyer could get a policy only to have it revoked after closing or find out the policy will cost a lot more than the price quoted before the purchase.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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Curly Sue wrote:

I can not speak for every situation. I do have a friend who last winter had a power outage, resulting in several water pipes leaking resulting in serious mold and and other damage. The insurance company is covering all the repair and restoration work. Note: the actual cause of the mold was know to be the water leak. Each policy is different so it is possible that some may not cover mold or would only cover it as a secondary issue.
I should also note that about half of the contractors contacted were rip-offs. They really are playing the deadly mold issue.
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Joseph Meehan

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On 17 Jul 2005 12:40:28 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Speedy Jim's websites offer some good advice, though one has an outdated link for the NYC Guidelines for Remediation of Fungi blah blah. The current link is http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/epi/moldrpt1.shtml (look under "remediation"). It looks as though your situation is level III. However if the problem is behind the wallboard, you may have a more severe hidden issue that might take professionals to handle.
If not, then get rid of the wallboard ASAP, break it up and put it in closed bags. The important thing is to know what you're doing (read those websites), plan how you'll do it, have everything ready ahead of time for contained disposal, and be sure to wear protective items (gloves, eye protection, filter mask, old clothes that can be washed right away in bleach or discarded). Get an extra filter for your shop vac and throw it away when you're done with the mold cleanup.
After you get rid of the material, figure out what caused the mold.
There should be no reason to tell the insurance company unless the contamination is greater than what you have described. If the contamination is minor, you are better off not telling them and biting the cost yourself. Just get the cause of the problem fixed.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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Most insurance companies do not cover mold at all. Calling your insurance company could be a big mistake. Most likely the previous owner's insurance company will not cover mold either. Unless it is a HUGE problem, calling in the lawyers will be a mistake. Wash the walls with detergentb and water, and install a dehumodidier. Make sure there are no plumbing leaks or water leaks from the outside. A dehumidifier cannot dry out things like that.
Stretch
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Mildew has been around a long time, but it is only a recent problem. It is in the air everywhere, and will grow when/where conditions are right. Don't panic. Look for the reason you wall is wet and rotten, and correct the moisture problem. Got a crack in outside wall? Downspout dropping water at that location? Yard not sloping AWAY from wall? Leaky window? Leaking pipe or plumbing fixture? Outside wall, right? Then the "poles" are not likely load-bearing, which makes it a simpler solution. That is important, and you need to make sure. A reputable, licensed general contractor, or a good handyman might be appropriate. Talk to neighbors you know and get references for someone who has done good work. Then get written bids which specify problem, corrective steps, materials, cost, payment schedule.
If you are totally unfamiliar with building methods and components, get a book at the library about remodeling and just read up on basic stuff. You will probably be relieved and probably have something with a fairly simple solution. There may be minimal moisture, just have had it trapped for a long time by the plastic cover. Basements are not "finished", by custom, for a good reason :o)
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In alt.home.repair on 17 Jul 2005 12:40:28 -0700 snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com posted:

My only think worth saying is that I had a little mold and after I rearranged the downspout extensions outside and the basement was dry again, I thought the blackened sheetrock would turn white again. Boy, can I be stupid. I had to paint it again.
Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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clean it with bleach
Mark
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