When is Mold Encapsulation an Acceptable Remediation Method?

Mold encapsulation, or sealing mold behind surfaces like drywall, insulation or plaster, is not always the best or only solution for mold removal.


Mold encapsulation, or sealing mold behind surfaces like drywall, insulation or plaster, is not always the best or only solution for mold removal. It should typically only be as a last resort when complete removal is not feasible or prudent due to structural damage or cost concerns. Even then, encapsulation alone often does not properly remediate mold and associated health risks over the long term.

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Pros of encapsulation:

However, there are also potentially serious downsides to keep in mind:

• The mold can continue spreading behind the barrier, eventually breaking through again or causing health issues. Most molds that form infestations will not stop growing.

• Moisture source issues still need to be address. If excess moisture that led to the original mold not resolves, the mold will come back even if it’s temporarily behind a barrier. Containment of the moisture source should still be the top priority.

• The area is not truly remediate. Hiding mold behind a surface does not remove its contaminants, spores or health threats. Proper disinfection and cleaning should aim to eliminate mold completely, not just conceal it.

• The encapsulation may damage or remove structural or load-bearing elements. Incorporating barriers like drywall onto structural wood or other framing members can significantly weaken them over time, potentially compromising safety.

• Disclosure of known mold issues is required. Even with encapsulation, the existence of previous or ongoing mold problems may need to be disclosed to current or future occupants by law. This undermines the rationale of containment through concealment.

In some cases, properly installed barriers behind thoroughly clean and contain mold infestations may provide an extra layer of defense until conditions conducive to mold growth have been eliminated and environmental controls are in place. However, encapsulation should really only viewed as a temporary solution or last resort, not the primary remediation method. Wherever feasible, complete removal of mold and moisture source issues provides the most effective long-term solution. Occupant and structural safety should always come before cost or convenience when remediating hazardous mold.

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