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Should I move out of my home during mold remediation?

Should I move out of my home during mold remediation?

We get this question a lot from homeowners who have discovered mold in their homes and need professional remediation to remove it.  Should I try to stay while the mold is removed and my house is put back together, or find another temporary home?

There are several considerations in making this decision, and they’re not easy.  Sadly, mold remediation is not “elective” or optional once you find it and discover the extent of mold damage.  The traditional option of renovating “room-by-room” is not available here because if it has mold, it has to be remediated as soon as possible if you want to live in your home!  

Why should I move out during remediation?

First off, If you’re not used to putting yourself first, you need to consider the value of your health.  Staying in your home while mold is removed and materials are replaced simply may not be safe for certain individuals.  The following are just some of the conditions that make it safer to leave:

  • Anyone diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) or Mast Cell Syndrome (MCS)

  • A compromised respiratory system or respiratory illness like asthma, COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis or any number of similar conditions.  Why?  Small particles and mold released into the air can directly affect your lungs and can be extremely dangerous for immuno-compromised individuals.

  • Heart conditions like arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, unstable angina, and any number of similar conditions.  Why?  Small particles and mold released into the air can directly affect your heart when they pass through your lungs into your bloodstream and can be extremely dangerous for immuno-compromised individuals.

  • Mobility handicapped people and the elderly may find it difficult to perform more cleaning and move around areas under construction

  • Work-from-home employees:  construction noise can be distracting and unproductive

  • Families with young children and/or pets  Even with protective barriers between you and the construction, you may find that your living space has increased dust on all surfaces, danger of children and/or pets getting into construction zones,  and construction noise from 7am on any time during the workday.

Secondly, most remediators will say that moving out is the best option to minimize time and labor.  According to Anna Williams, founder of Your Beautiful Home, there are multiple reasons.  If you live at home during the work, the construction crew will have to take extra care to clean up each evening before leaving, as well as pack up their tools.  This takes at least 30 minutes in the evening, plus time in the morning to unpack tools. (Move out during renovation or live through it? That is the question!)  Also, they may not have the easiest access if you are living there, for instance walking and carting tools to the back door to avoid your living space.  So, making it easier and quicker on the remediators means less time and money spent.

And of course, if the remediation requires extensive gutting to your home, it may be just too inconvenient to try to live there.

If you decide to leave, family and friends usually have the cheapest “rates” of any accommodations, but will your relationship survive the remediation?  If your contractor has a reputation for completing projects on-time, staying with family may be a good option.  Alternatives include:

  • Vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO

  • Extended stay suites

  • Sublets

  • Corporate housing/short-term rentals (contact a corporate housing agency)

If you move out, you’ll want to make sure to do the following:

  • Store food items in airtight bins

  • Discuss power requirements and when the power will be cut off (will it affect your freezer/any other climatization?

  • Place plastic dust covers on furniture, clothing and carpets if possible

  • Secure any areas of the home that contractors don’t need to access, take or lock up valuables

  • Notify your home insurance and security company

  • Check the “containment” that the contractor has set up.  Be sure to discuss your HVAC system, which can broadcast mold and dust throughout your home if it’s not secured!  If temporary ventilation is needed during extreme heat or cold, the contractor should be able to provide it.  

  • Plan for extra weeks or months in case the remediation schedule doesn’t proceed as planned.

Why should I stay?

Finding alternate accommodations can be stressful if you have to stay with others, or expensive if you have to pay for a rental for your family.  For these reasons, many decide to stay at home.  Homeowners who decide to try to live in their home during remediation should know about the stresses they may endure!  It’s not easy to have workers coming and going through your personal space.  Here are just a few considerations:

  • Increased dust throughout the home

  • Increased noise during workdays

  • Temporary (or prolonged) power and water disruptions

  • Ventilation during extreme temperatures

  • Child safety

  • Parking issues–will there be many vehicles and/or a dumpster parked in front of your house?

  • Access to your kitchen

  • Access to at least one bathroom and shower or tub

  • Access to laundry facilities

  • Sufficient clean space for your family to sleep

  • Sufficient space to work if working from home

  • Delays to the schedule may make the remediation longer than expected

It’s a lot to consider.  Of course, make sure you have as many options available as possible before deciding, including knowing if your insurance will pick up any of the cost for relocation.  If not, you can check with local, state and federal agencies for assistance.  

Staying at home during a mold remediation carries an extra risk: airborne mold.  For this reason, we recommend purchasing extra HEPA filters to place around your living area and portable air sanitizers like the Air Angel and Germ Defender.  Containment of dust and mold spores has to be top-notch–make sure that the contractor follows all safety standards for containment!

Working with the contractor on setting a budget and timeline should be a top priority.  Many contractors may think that delays are acceptable if the homeowner is living in the home or with family–after all, you won’t be paying rent–but make sure that this is not their mindset by including deadlines in the contract, and penalties or cost reductions if they are not met.

By all means, ask for help whenever you can.  Whether it’s taking a weekend getaway break, taking vacation during the remediation, asking for help with children and pets, or having dinner with friends more often, you’ll need to pace yourself so that your health and your relationships aren’t “gutted” either!  

Is “noise pollution” a problem in your home?

Is "noise pollution" a problem in your home?

Many people who are used to having the TV, radio or other entertainment on all the time in their home and cars are used to this “background noise” as a part of their home.  Even appliances like noisy fans, the washing machine and the dishwasher, and outdoor noise like cars, airplanes, lawnmowers and sirens contribute to the soundtrack that is heard inside the home.   However, it’s not widely understood that noise pollution is also detrimental to our health, like other types of pollution (air, water).  The good news is that home noise pollution can be abated with immediate good effects and without negative long-term effects.   

“Second-hand noise” is noise experienced by people who did not make the noise.  Your apartment neighbor’s loud party or blaring music is an example, and according to Les Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, an anti-noise advocacy group based in Montpelier, Vermont, it’s a civil rights issue.  (2005 study)  Whether it is the consistent noisy neighbors in your apartment building, booming car stereos rolling down your street, or the airport expansion plans that threaten to start flight noise an hour earlier in the morning, you need to speak up!  Communities in the US and all over the world have lobbied for and won changes to zoning laws and operating conditions in response to their complaints about noise.

Loud noise increases blood pressure, heart rates and stress levels. According to a 1982 study, increased blood pressure seems to be a “necessary” response in our bodies to loud noise, because if the receptors that signal vasoconstriction (constriction of vessels) are blocked, the body will increase heart rate to compensate for the lack of constriction. Loud noise can be experienced by many tradespeople in different industries on an ongoing basis (construction, factory work, warehouses, transport and service industries, civil workers, etc.), making it a chronic hypertension exacerbator.

Noise affects childrens’ learning.  In 1975 a study on a school located near elevated train tracks showed that the classrooms facing the tracks were consistently behind in test scores versus those in the quieter back side of the building, and by the end of the year, were a full grade point behind their peers in the quieter classrooms.  After acoustic tiles were installed in the classrooms and the train authority treated the tracks to make them less noisy, the childrens’ reading scores improved.  Feeling annoyed by noise can cause kids to lose focus on lessons.  For infants and children learning how to talk, a noisy environment can make it harder for them to understand speech.   It also affects how they play and sleep.  Children with special sensitivities—such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorders or learning differences are affected on a higher level by environmental noise. (healthychildren.org

Noise affects our sleep!  This seems like a no-brainer, but those who struggle to get sufficient quality sleep need to make a “sleep sanctuary” a priority.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Leave your phone outside the bedroom and use an electric or windup alarm clock.  If this is not possible, set a “Do Not Disturb” time, such as 10pm-8am, so that phone calls and message “dings” will not wake you.  If you are a caretaker, it’s also possible to have rule exceptions for people who most frequently call you.  

  • If you live in an multi-family building, you can block noise coming from below by adding thick rugs on the floors.  

  • Use acoustic foam on windows to dampen outside noise.  To make it removable, you can use glue or double-sided tape to apply these sound-proofing wedges to a foam board.  

  • Over the foam board, use blackout curtains as well.  Blackout curtains are typically made of several layers of fabric that will accomplish both your noise and light-blocking goals. 

  • Get accustomed to using comfy ear plugs.  Flents Foam Ear Plugs are highly rated for comfort and noise abatement–but they won’t stop you from hearing really important noises like an emergency phone call or a smoke alarm.  Personally, earplugs have been a staple of my sleeping habits since college, because they work!  

  • If you don’t like earplugs or still have significant environmental noise, add a white-noise machine to your bedroom.  Yogasleep Dohm UNO White Noise Sound Machine is highly rated for being easy to use, customizable, and travel-friendly.

  • What not to do: don’t listen to music!  "Almost everyone thought music improves their sleep, but we found those who listened to more music slept worse," Scullin said. "What was really surprising was that instrumental music led to worse sleep quality -- instrumental music leads to about twice as many earworms." (Michael Scullin, Ph. D, in his study on how earworms, those songs that replay in your head even when the music stops, affect sleep). 

  • For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, check out our post on Maximizing Your Sleep.

There’s an App for That

Given some of the serious consequences of too much stress and too little sleep, as a health-conscious member of your household, it’s important to set limits on the level and duration of background noise in your home.  As we said in our post about sensors, you need to measure it so you can improve it! 

  • Measuring sound levels can be as easy as going to the “app store” on your phone and downloading an app to measure decibels; you don’t need a fancy meter.  Also, you need to log these levels and length of time that they persist, so that you can have a history to point to when advocating for change.  

  • You can use the above strategies for the bedroom to create other quiet places in your home for relaxing, reading, studying, etc.  You can also negotiate quiet times so that everyone in the home is winding down and resting during certain hours.

  • Try to schedule noisier activities while you are out of the home!  For example, you can start the dishwasher or washing machine when you leave for work or to run errands, or enable them to start remotely if you have smart appliances.  

  • Make a more peaceful oasis in your backyard: Acoustifence is an 1/8 “ thick material suited to outdoor installations that reduces sounds by 28 dB through the material.  It can be printed in all manner of beautiful and lifelike scenery, including brick, garden, stone veneer, etc. and comes in pre-cut and grommeted sections of 6’ x 30’.  These can be quickly installed over existing chain link fences to deaden sounds from generator enclosures, dog parks, parking lots, sports fields, construction sites, racetracks, airports, etc. If you want to create a quieter backyard, you can plant real plants in front of a printed screen to get a green, layered effect.

  • There are also apps for your phone to notify you when the selected audio level of playback is too loud.  According to 2018 data, the average adult is streaming audio content through mobile devices for about 1 hour per day. (ENT & audiology news).  Both of the following apps allow you to monitor your listening better to prevent hearing damage. 

    • The Apple Health App has the ability to measure sound levels from headphones so that listeners can monitor their noise exposure from their devices. The app uses guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) to clearly indicate to listeners when their noise exposure is within acceptable limits, or if it’s at a level that is potentially dangerous to their hearing. 

    • HearAngel is an Android app that compares your listening levels to a Daily Sound Allowance (DSA). A dose allowance of 85dBA (average level) for an eight-hour period is based on Health and Safety Executive (UK) recommendations.  It also allows you to monitor your children’s listening levels via a PIN code.


Noise pollution may be a new way of thinking about unwanted sound, but once you experience the bliss of quiet, it can be the new calming “background” to your home. 

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash