Mold on Plywood Sheathing in Attic
You discovered dark staining on your attic sheathing and think it may be mold, now what? Attic spaces are one of the most common places in a home for mold to be found growing. Mold on the underside of roof sheathing is also very common. The presence of mold in your attic is often the result of poor ventilation, insufficient insulation, moisture from a roof leak, or improper venting from your bathrooms or kitchen.
Mold that grows on the underside of roof sheathing due to ideal mold growth conditions being present. Mold requires a few key elements in order to grow and thrive; organic materials to feed off, moisture, warmth and darkness.
When warm moist air from your home rises up, it has the ability to go to your attic and become condensation which attaches to attic sheathing. When moisture is present on the plywood, mold spores can begin to attach and grow.
How to Identify
Before beginning any mold remediation process, you will want to confirm that the dark staining contamination is indeed mold. There can be other causes on staining or discoloration on plywood in your attic so it is best to test the area to see what you are working with.
We recommend using the mold testing kit found on our recommended products page to test your property. These kits are affordable, ranging from $10-$60 dollars each and are very reliable in testing for the presence of mold.
A mold test kit should be able to confirm that mold is indeed present on your attic sheathing or plywood. Depending on the type of mold kit you decide to purchase, it may even have the capability of alerting you to what kind of mold is present and also whether or not it is a toxic strand. If you would like to learn more about testing for mold, check out this link.
If you are not into going to the do it yourself route, another option is to schedule an in home mold consultation from a trusted mold testing company.
A professional mold specialist will be equipped with the tools and equipment to be able to access your attic and determine not only whether or not mold is there.
How Did it Get There?
If you determined that mold is indeed present in your attic, you are probably wondering how it got there. A mold problem is always the result of a water problem. If you do not fix the root cause of the mold problem, all of your mold removal efforts will be for nothing because the mold will continue to come back again and again.
The most common way that mold begins growing is by warm, moist air in your home not being properly ventilated. Warm air rises and if it is not vented outside correctly, it will stick to your attic sheathing.
Once there is moisture present on your plywood in your attic, mold spores have all they need to begin to colonize and grow.
Your attic can also come into contact with moisture if you have a leaky roof or poor insulation. The key to mold grow is moisture so it is important to understand that any mold infestation is the result of a water problem.
Luckily, mold in your attic does not typically affect the air quality in your home as much as a mold infestation in your living area might. The real threat with mold is the potential for structural damage. Mold eats away at the organic materials, like those supplied by the plywood, and eventually it will deteriorate the building materials.
Mold rots and wears away roofing surfaces allowing the roof to sag, leak and eventually cave in. Mold is a very real threat to the integrity of your home. If you discover an infestation, it is vital that you address it immediately to avoid hazardous damages.
How Mold on Plywood in Attic Spreads
Mold spores in general spread very rapidly and the presence of a moisture problem in your attic will only accelerate their growth potential. Mold that has colonized on attic sheathing will continue to grow and spread if left unchecked.
Mold spores can also end up being distributed throughout the rest of your home if you have an HVAC system in your attic. The HVAC system can pick up mold spores and then blow them throughout your whole house. Leaving the rest of your home susceptible to mold too.
Not only will mold spores have the ability to begin growing throughout the rest of your home, but the spores have the potential to make you and your family very ill.
Mold can be toxic and hazardous to your health. Mold exposure tends to cause respiratory problems in people, especially those with a weakened immune system or a pre-existing health condition.
We are all constantly coming into contact with mold spores in our everyday life. In fact, mold in its natural element outdoors actually plays a very crucial role in our ecosystem. Mold aids in the breaking down of old leaves, plants and wood.
Mold reactions are most severe when it has the ability to colonize and grow inside our homes where we live and breathe the air in on a regular basis.
Not everyone who comes into contact with mold will suffer side effects, but many do. Exposure to extreme mold infestations can cause serious, life threatening side effects in people so it is important to avoid this at all costs.
How to Remove Mold from Attic
Since the attic is such a common place for mold to grow, there have been several mold remediation techniques that are designed specifically for removing mold on underside of roof sheathing. Due to the nature of the most attics spaces, it is highly advisable that you hire a professional mold remediation company to remove your mold safely and effectively by calling the number on our website .
Don’t risk injury to yourself or your home by trying to remove mold from your attic on your own. Improper removal and disposal could lead to further damage and contamination to your home.
Removing mold from your attic should always require the use of containment processes to avoid the risk of spreading the spores throughout your home. Mold removal from your attic also requires the use of personal protective equipment for the crew performing the job.
Personal protective equipment includes; a respirator mask, eye protection, hand protection and protective clothing covering the whole body. Proper personal protective equipment usage lowers the risk of exposure to airborne contaminants.
Mold Remediation Techniques
The first, and most effective mold remediation technique is complete removal. Removal and replacement of the affected roofing materials will need to be considered when the integrity of the roof has been compromised. This is also a good solution for situations where the cost of remediation is higher than the cost of removal and replacement.
Complete removal is the safest and most effective way to completely rid your attic of a dangerous mold infestation. Sometimes people want to try to save money and skate by with not removing and replacing the roofing materials and it comes back to bite them when they begin having roof leaks and other problems due to the structural integrity of the roof being compromised by the mold.
The next technique that is used to remove mold on the underside of your roof decking is sanding or wire brushing the mold off. This remediation technique is useful only when the infestation has not gotten to the point of damaging the roof structurally.
Sanding is a very common mold remediation technique and typically involves the use of HEPA vacuuming, scrubbing with a specialized detergent and then sealing with a mold resistant coating. This technique can be very effective for removing mold if the infestation is small and manageable.
If sanding or power brushing is an option for your attic infestation, this technique is fairly cost effective and easy to set up and execute. If you don’t have to replace roofing materials you will save a lot of money in the mold remediation process. Again, this technique is only effective on small, smooth surfaces that can be easily accessed.
If you are working with a large infestation in your attic, sanding the mold off can be very labor intensive and can end up costing you a lot of money out of pocket. There is also the risk that sanding the mold off does not remove all traces of the mold spores.
Mold spores penetrate the plywood in your attic and it is difficult to completely eradicate it. There is also a small risk that comes with applying the mold protective sealant in that the sealant can trap moisture in the plywood which will cause it to decompose and decay.
Another mold remediation option for mold on attic sheathing is dry ice blasting. Dry ice blasting is the process of dry ice particles being blasted in a pressurized stream onto mold infected surfaces. This process is also known as CO2 blasting or cryogenic blasting.
The dry ice blasting technique is particularly effective when dealing with areas of your attic that are otherwise difficult to access safely. Dry ice blasting will remove some of the surface from your attic sheathing or plywood when it is blasted on it, however, not enough to compromise the integrity of your roofing materials.
This method is effective at blasting the mold off. It is nontoxic and does not damage any electrical wiring that may be in the area. This method is a very safe and thorough way to remove mold from your attic.
The cleanup process after the CO2 blasting is complete just includes vacuuming up all of the particles. While this process is effective, it can also be very pricey and not every mold remediation team has access to this equipment and technology.
Dry ice is expensive to buy and not always readily available making this a not so popular option for some smaller mold remediation companies. Similar to sanding, there is always the risk that not all of the mold has been completely removed from deep within the wooden surfaces, leaving a chance that the mold could come back or that additional remediation will need to be performed.
The only sure fire way to completely get rid of mold on the underside of your roof sheathing is to completely remove the materials and replace them. Replacement should only be done after the source of the water problem has been identified and fixed.
Preventing Future Infestations
As we discussed earlier, it is essential that before any mold remediation process begin, the source of the moisture needs to be remedied so that mold will not grow again. You may need to have some new insulation work done or new ventilation systems installed or you may need to fix a roof leak.
No matter how the water problem originated, it needs to be fixed in order to ensure that mold will not come back. Once you fix the root of the problem and have the mold removed by whatever technique makes the most sense for your attic, there are steps you can take to be diligent in prevention of future mold infestations.
If you hired a professional mold remediation team to do the work, they will set you up for future success by making sure the job was completed property. Most mold remediation companies will apply protective sealants to your roof sheathing to help protect it against future attacks.