Chapter 2: Mold Remediation Equipment
Tools Needed for Mold Remediation
Other than protective clothing and a respirator, your pre-testing equipment will vary depending on the severity of the contamination. In general, though, surface testing involves plastic tape, while air and vacuum sampling typically require collection cartridges and air pumps.
When you know a mold problem is present, it’s time to act. The process of mold remediation can be broken into three basic steps. The first is to remove contaminated materials, which we’ll discuss in the next chapter. The second step is to deploy the equipment we’ll detail here, and the third step is to re-evaluate and plan for future testing.
Mold remediation equipment is designed to increase the airflow in a specific part of your building to dry out any moisture while also filtering the air. This dries out mold colonies and eliminates conditions where additional mold can grow. It also directs spores still in circulation out of the area when used in unison with a ducting strategy that vents interior air into the atmosphere.
One innovation we’re seeing more of in air scrubbers is HEPA filtration systems. HEPA stands for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air” or “High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance.” Any filter that is manufactured, tested, certified and labeled in accordance with HEPA standards can be classified as a HEPA filter. Though several sub-categories exist, the minimum category requires filters in air scrubbers to capture 99.97% of the 0.3-micron particles in the air that passes through it to qualify.
Some of the most common equipment involved in mold remediation falls into three categories: air movers, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers. Understanding the selection criteria for each will allow you to spec a job site with equipment that will quickly and economically remediate a mold problem.
If you want to remove the moisture that leads to mold growth, the quickest way to do it is to increase airflow. Air movers are powerful industrial blowers that can be placed strategically to increase airflow and direct mold spores out of the contaminated area. In some cases, employing air movers quickly enough following water damage can mitigate mold growth altogether by quickly drying the surface exposed to water.
Selecting the right air mover for the job requires that you first know the dimensions of the area needing remediation. Here are a few suggestions for air movers to use by application:
Large Spaces: In a large open space, a few large, high-powered air movers will be the solution. The B-Air® Vent VP-50 Air Mover features a ½ HP motor and delivers a powerful airflow, but only draws a mere 4.5 amps.
Compact Spaces: When the confines of the space you’re working in don’t allow for larger units, you can take advantage of smaller solutions such as the B-Air® Flex FX-1. This is a powerful mini air mover that comes in at just under one cubic foot but still puts out a powerful airflow for its size with a ¼ HP motor. The FX-1 can be positioned vertically, horizontally or at a 45-degree angle, which makes this air mover the perfect choice when trying to dry out complex HVAC systems or other confined areas.
Large Deployments/All Around: For jobs where multiple spaces have been affected, you’ll want to choose a mix of versatile mold removal equipment. Several air movers like the B-Air® Vent VP-33 make a versatile solution in such a situation thanks to their high airflow output, 1/3 HP motor, and portability.
The entire B-Air® line features handle for ease of transportation, and the VP-33 is designed to be stacked up to four-high, allowing you to easily store larger quantities.
Maintenance for air movers is minimal, and many air movers feature quality warranties of one or more years. Make sure units stay clean and avoid running air movers in extremely moist environments and never in standing water. Deploy dehumidifiers and limit moisture sources to promote good air mover performance in settings where there are high levels of moisture in the air.
Bulk packs of air movers are also available through Aer Industries — we’re a mold remediation equipment supplier that can you find an economical solution for your mold remediation jobs.
While commercial dehumidifiers are useful tools for mold remediation, they are also an excellent way to ensure an area remains clean and dry and doesn’t develop mold (learn more about commercial dehumidifiers here).
Dehumidifiers work by cooling air in order to remove the moisture from it as colder air is able to hold less water than warmer air. A dehumidifier incorporates a reservoir that collects the moisture that cool air expels.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) evaluates dehumidifiers and other appliances to see if they use power efficiently and, in the case of these tools, measure how much moisture they pull from ambient air. Effectiveness is measured at 60% relative humidity and 80-degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an extreme of 90% humidity at 90-degrees Fahrenheit. An effective dehumidifier will reduce relative humidity to about 40%.
Most dehumidifiers feature wheels that allow them to be placed where needed for mold remediation or other jobs. For larger rooms, a high-volume dehumidifier such as the B-Air® Vantage LGR VG-3000 can remove 170 pints per day (PPD) at AHAM conditions. Here are some options you have based on your application:
Maximum Volume: Capable of removing 300 pints at saturation and 170 pints AHAM, the LGR VG-3000 represents the single most effective solution on the market today for commercial dehumidifiers. It can operate in temperatures ranging from 33 to 125-degrees Fahrenheit and features a self-defrosting heat pump.
Balanced Performance: If you need a more compact option, B-Air’s® VG-1500 model, combines performance close to the 3000 at a slightly lower . Roughly 70 lbs. lighter than the VG-3000, the VG-1500 still removes an impressive 150/76 PPD AHAM.
Space Efficiency: In situations where a smaller unit is desired, the BlueDri™ BD-76 makes an excellent choice. At just 81 lbs., it is more portable than the larger versions, but it still removed 150/76 PPD AHAM. It will operate in temperatures as hot as 100-degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as 33-degrees.
One component to keep in mind is the importance of using the proper size dehumidifier for space. Selecting the right dehumidifier means you can keep the relative humidity in the proper range — between 30% and 50%. Keeping humidity in this preferred range makes it less likely mold will become pervasive.
The amount of water that accumulates in your dehumidifiers and the rate at which it accumulates will determine on how many units you use and the humidity of your workspace.
Water collected is considered greywater, and it needs to be disposed of in accordance with EPA regulations. In some settings, it is appropriate to run a drainage hose to a collection receptacle to avoid exposing your workspace to greywater contamination.
Check the filter in your dehumidifiers regularly to keep them working at peak performance. Clean dirt, dust, and other debris from filters. Typically, a dehumidifier filter can be cleaned and re-used three times before it needs to be replaced, but this will depend on the usage of the dehumidifier — in many mold remediation situations, the filter should be changed between jobs.
Clean the coils of your dehumidifiers regularly to ensure the units operate at peak efficiency. Make sure cords are protected with tape and not damaged or cut when operating in construction-type environments.
Monitor battery readouts on the unit’s control panel to see when a battery change is needed if the unit is battery powered, and be reticent of drain hose or blower obstructions that can block flow from the machine. Detach your unit’s drain hose to access and clean these implements should they become clogged.
As air movers and dehumidifiers work to reduce the relative humidity in a space so that mold colonies cannot grow, air scrubbers remove airborne contaminants. These scrubbers use HEPA filters that are so effective, they can even remove smoke from the air in fire-damaged buildings.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. While it sounds high-tech, HEPA filters have been around since the 1950s in some form. They are constructed using randomly arranged strands of fiberglass or other fibrous material. Through a combination of interception, impact, and diffusion, these filters can trap particles down to 0.3-microns in size. Using an air scrubber for mold remediation, especially a HEPA air scrubber, is ideal.
The B-Air Raptor RA650 air scrubber is often the solution for most mold remediation applications. To maximize the effectiveness of the Air Shield’s HEPA filter, it incorporates a pre-filter and optional second-stage filter which pull larger particulates out of the air before they hit the HEPA filter. This allows you to get the most out of your HEPA filter.
The life of a HEPA filter will vary depending on the environment where air scrubbers are placed. When it does come time to replace filters, both the BlueDri™ and B-Air® products available from Aer Industries offer easy tool-free filter replacement. Just open the clips, pull out the old filter and drop in a new one.
As a rule, replace the filter in your air scrubber every 800 hours of use, or after each remediation job. Many of the air scrubbers available have indicator lights to let you know when a filter change is needed. Ensure that the scrubber is completely dry before installing a new filter. Frequent filter changes will prevent cross-contamination during a remediation job and your air scrubber run at peak performance.
The fan blade in your air scrubber is one of its most important components, so make sure it stays clean and sharp. Wipe down dusty blades with a damp cloth, and always replace bent blades. Test the GFCI function on new scrubbers before you deploy them, and regularly in long-term jobs.
While many mold remediation jobs use a negative air machine, it is important to note that an air scrubber and negative air machine are not the same things. Whereas a negative air machine uses ducting to direct air out once it is cleaned, a scrubber will allow air to recirculate once it is filtered.