What You Should Know About Mold
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of harmful health effects, and it grows everywhere there is moisture, even in dust. Inside the home, mold growth is often caused by high humidity levels, leaky roofs, windows and pipes, poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry and cooking areas, and accidental flooding. But, did you know that mold outside can hitch a ride inside on your clothing shoes and pets? Explore here to get the 411 on what you can do to prevent a 911.
How can I prevent mold after a water disaster?
Water came in your house! Now what? If not handled properly, water disasters can result in unhealthy mold growth inside. Because mold can spread within the first few days after a water event, the affected area must be dried completely as soon as possible. Therefore, preventing mold after water damage requires a thorough drying that household fans cannot accomplish. It is recommended that you call in a professional to dry out your property. They have the proper tools for water removal and moisture testing.
Preventing Mold with House Maintenance
Since mold is virtually everywhere (inside and out), it is easy to carry inside on your clothes, shoes, accessories and even pets. The good news is that you can take certain measures to make your home an unwelcome environment for mold.
Inspect your home periodically for signs of moisture and follow these tips:
- Keep your gutters clean so they can funnel water away from your house
- Fix leaks in roof or pipes right away
- DO NOT USE chemical products to unclog drains (they may eat the clogs, but they also eat holes in your pipes)
- Insulate cold spots to prevent condensation in summer months (yes, mold can grow in cold places too)
- Insulate water pipes before the winter to prevent burst pipes from fluctuating temperatures
- Insulate and seal air leaks between attic and house
- Install and test your sump pump once per year
- Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens and make sure they are ducted to the outside
- Vent appliances such as dryers, water heaters, gas fireplaces and
- Raise the temperature and increase air circulation to colder parts of the home
- Don’t use humidifiers
- Use a dehumidifier
How to spot mold in your house.
The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? But how do you know if you have mold, and does it matter what kind of mold it is?
1. Do you see colored spots in damp areas, like your shower or basement, walls or floor? Not all mold is visible,but if you see patches of black, white, yellow, brown, green, or blue, further investigation is needed.
2. Do you smell a pungent odor when you walk in from outside? Mold produces gases, some of which are odorless, but also some that give off a distinct musty, earthy smell, like dirt and rotting wood and leaves. Even if you can’t see the mold, it is extremely likely that it is hidden somewhere in your home.
3. Do you have respiratory problems that occur when you are at home, but disappear when you are elsewhere? Look for congestion, itching or watery eyes and nose, sneezing, or other allergic-type reactions.
As for testing the type of mold, the only way to make that determination is to look at it under a microscope. Testing can be expensive and any mold type can cause health problems, so it’s just best to get rid of it.
Are you sick of mold?
It may be hayfever. It may be mold.
How to get rid of mold.
DIY mold removal or call a mold professional? Experts often joke that if you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait till you see what an amateur costs in the long run! That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t clean mold out of your shower by yourself. There are a few factors that you should consider when choosing between cleaning the mold yourself or hiring a professional to fully remove the mold.
1. Where is the mold? If it’s multiplied in hard-to-see or reach places such as inside walls, ceilings, in the attic or crawlspace, hiring a professional is practically essential. Small amounts of surface mold, especially on non-porous, hard surfaces such as your shower or tub is possible to clean yourself with mold removal sprays, special soaps and bleach (make sure to never mix chemicals). And remember that if mold spores go airborne during your cleaning, mold may end up settling in and on other hard to reach places.
2. How much mold is there? This can be hard to know, but if your house has a musty odor indicative of mold, the problem is probably bigger than you can handle yourself. That said, if you are an avid DIYer, you may find that you can replace your own insulation or drywall if that’s where your mold is growing.
3. Where did it come from and when did it start? If you know where and when the mold-causing moisture originated, you could better determine how much mold may be present, especially if you know how long the moisture has been an issue. If you don’t know both where and when, you should get professional mold remediation help.
4. Do you have the right equipment and know-how? You don’t want to bring a screwdriver to drive a nail. It’s generally accepted that a mold remediation professional will have both the knowledge, materials and equipment to prevent mold from causing physical harm while eradicating it completely. Your battle will end sooner by calling in a mold removal pro.