Mold Remediation Article : A Cold Jet Case Study

Mold is a problem that impacts consumers and businesses alike as it grows and spreads throughout homes, apartment buildings, courthouses and medical facilities. Mold problems can be brought on by flooding, roof or plumbing leaks, damp basement and crawl spaces, or anyplace where moist air is left to condense on cold surfaces. Mold will most likely be found where there is water damage, a high relative humidity or dampness.

Mold in small amounts should not cause home and business owners to panic; however, mold should never be allowed to multiply.  When it is found in large amounts, mold can cause health problems, odors and damage to building and home materials, and even structural damage to wood.

Challenge: Mold Remediation

With the mold problem evident, the biggest challenge for consumers and businesses has been the traditional methods of remediation, which are time consuming and expensive. There are a number of different methods used by contractors to remove mold, from wet vacuums and hyper-sanding to wiping down with water and a detergent.

Below is an example of traditional mold remediation process:

  1. Containment – Critical step to prevent mold from back drafting into the rest of the house or contaminated property. This is achieved through plastic barriers over all windows and attic “openings” and then utilizing a negative air system to direct the “moldy” air outside. Should the project be an attic, the removal or protection of the insulation is recommended as well.
  2. Vacuum – Initial process of removing any loose mold spores and dust.
  3. Biocide – This application must dry for 24 hours
  4. Sanding and scraping – For a 650 square foot contaminated surface, process can take upwards of 3 days to complete. The sanding was done both manually to get into the tight corners and with power sanders for the more open areas.
  5. Vacuum – Remove secondary waste produced from sanding process
  6. Biocide – Help kill live spores that may have escaped during the aggressive sanding process
  7. Encapsulation – Chemical application that prevents moisture from activating mold spores

In addition to being tedious and slow, oftentimes these methods are limited in their effectiveness by tight angles and confined space, which make it difficult to ensure complete remediation. As noted above, a common part of the mold remediation process employed by cleaning contractors is the use of biocides. These solvents are typically registered as pesticides and are potentially harmful to those using them. While they help kill germs and also prevent the health risks associated with the mold once the cleaning is completed, biocides do not always fully remove the metabolites in spores that seep into the materials the mold is attached to, and which are the core cause of allergic reactions and health problems.

To enhance the speed, effectiveness and safety of the mold remediation process, contractors across the country are turning to dry ice blast cleaning; a non-abrasive media blasting process that uses recycled CO2 in the form of dry ice pellets to clean surfaces contaminated by mold.

The Solution – Dry Ice Blasting

Dry ice blasting works somewhat like sandblasting or high-pressure water blasting, without the structural damage that commonly happens to the wood’s surface beneath the mold. Using pressurized air stream, the dry ice pellets are accelerated at supersonic speeds to lift the mold off the wood. The combination of dry ice blast cleaning kinetic energy and thermal effects breaks the connection between the mold and the surface.  The dry ice blasting process is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and non-conductive. As the dry ice particles impact the surface being cleaned, they sublimate leaving no additional waste. Since there is no secondary waste stream, the only thing left to do is vacuum the residual mold that was removed during the blasting.

Dry ice blasting has shown to completely remove mold spores from wood surfaces in less time and with less effort than other cleaning methods. With dry ice blast cleaning systems, cleaning contractors can get in between beams and into roof sheathing, allowing for complete mold spore removal and helping to reduce, and in some cases, eliminate the need for biocides and encapsulation.

With dry ice blasting the traditional method of mold remediation can be replaced with a much simpler and efficient cleaning process. For example:

  1. Containment
  2. Vacuum
  3. Sanitize (As desired for precaution)
  4. Blast – For a 650 square foot contaminated surface, it will take less than a day
  5. Vacuum – To remove residual mold and wood that was removed during the blasting
  6. Sanitize (As desired for precaution)

According to Tom Monacelli, owner of Advanced Indoor Air Quality in New Jersey and a Cold Jet contractor, “Dry ice blasting gets it right the first time, which is critical when you’re dealing with a toxic substance. The fact that dry ice blasting removes virtually 100% (or 99.9%) percent of the spore is also important, as the home or business owner will know that their home or business is safe again. Combine these benefits with the fact that dry ice blasting is an environmentally responsible method that helps support the recommendations of the EPA regarding the use of chemical agents, and it is fairly obvious to see why it is becoming a popular mold remediation solution.”

Results: Benefits of the Cold Jet Solution

According to Cold Jet, the global leader in dry ice blasting technology, cleaning contractors have been able to dramatically reduce their labor time and costs by using the company’s dry ice blast cleaning systems. For example, a contractor in Cincinnati, Ohio was able to reduce what had been a 10 day job with traditional cleaning processes to three days, while also reducing the number of workers on site from six to two. On average Cold Jet has found that dry ice blasting reduces cleaning time up to 70 percent, labor costs by 90 percent and project costs by up to 85 percent. The time and costs savings are then passed on to the home or business owner who benefits from the speed and efficiency of the advanced cleaning process.

Cold Jet’s systems also improve the effectiveness of the mold remediation process by allowing contractors to clean in between beams and sheathing, as well as around nails, which helps provide as close to 100 percent spore removal as possible. The same Cincinnati contractor reported that following the cleaning job, its customer reported its first “zero” spore count. Across the board, dry ice blasting reduces the need for encapsulation and biocides, ensuring a more environmentally friendly and safer working environment.

Dry ice blasting provides an effective mold remediation solution that helps to completely eliminate mold from contaminated areas in homes and businesses. While saving time and money for homeowners and businesses, dry ice blasting eliminates the challenges of traditional cleaning techniques and increasing the number of mold remediation projects a cleaning firm can perform.