Sorry to break it to you, but mold is everywhere.
The microscopic fungi can be found indoors and outdoors. It doesn’t matter if it’s January or July, mold is happy in all the warm, damp nooks and crannies of your home or place of business. The potential for structural damage and the ill effects on your health mean you have to take mold removal seriously.
Since every case is different, there’s never a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Mold spores can find their way indoors on the soles of your shoes or the paws of your pets. An open window or foundation crack is all it takes. And if you’ve had basement flooding or leaky pipes, you can be sure you’ll need to take action.
Mold’s Effects On Health
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of health issues, including:
- Irritated throat
- Itchy eyes and skin
- Stuffy nose
- Coughing and wheezing
- Trouble breathing
- Lung infections
Mold can also cause allergic reactions. Toxic molds can even cause neurological problems like headaches, dizziness and even memory loss. If you notice allergy symptoms getting worse when you’re indoors, there’s a good chance mold is the culprit.
The effects can be especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, those who are immunocompromised, and people who have asthma. If your family is experiencing any of the symptoms described here, schedule a mold inspection as soon as you can.
Sometimes health issues related to mold can occur before mold is even visible. The harmful effects of mold and mildew compound over time, and usually by the time you can see mold, it means more is lingering out of sight.
Mold Removal Starts With Prevention
Mold is serious business. But like almost everything related to home repairs and maintenance, you can put a stop to problems before they start.
Mold loves damp and dark places like basements, garages and bathrooms. If you’ve recently had water damage or have habitually damp parts of your home, here are a few suggestions to help you avoid a visit from a mold removal service.
Keep Mold Out of Your Bathrooms
You spend a lot of time each day in one of the smallest rooms of the house. Your bathroom is also a prime spot for mold growth. Remember these pointers if you want to keep breathing easy in the privy.
Ventilate: After a hot shower, steam needs an open window or an exhaust fan to escape. If you don’t have these options, leave the bathroom door open and use an electric fan.
Wipe Down Walls: Incorporating a squeegee into your post-shower ritual can eliminate most of the water that lingers on tiles. Drying up the bathroom post-shower helps curtail bacterial growth, which means less mold.
Hard Surfaces Make Things Easier: Paper and fabric breed mold because they trap moisture. If you have bathroom wallpaper, a cloth shower curtain, a bath rug, or cloth toilet cover, think about getting rid of them.
Reseal Tile: Reseal annually to ensure your tile lasts longer and to keep moisture from sneaking into your walls.
Keep Mold Out of Your Garage
Your garage is a prime target for mold growth because it is exposed to the elements as you open and close the door. Most garages are also poorly lit and poorly ventilated, which creates a haven for mold growth. A rain-covered bicycle, a pair of snowy boots, or pool floats that haven’t completely dried are all it takes.
Re-Think Storage: Mold loves wet cardboard. Get rid of paper boxes and find plastic or metal bins instead.
Dry What You Store: You can’t keep everything totally dry all of the time. You can, however, make an effort to eliminate water when possible. Routinely check for places where water is leaking into your garage, including around windows and along the seal of your garage door. Clean up any standing water, especially during winter months when it’s more likely to accumulate. Dry rainy outdoor gear or shoe, as you trek in from outside. Keep wet items away from other items in the garage—don’t store them against a wall or on a shelf, where there’s even less ventilation.
Dehumidify: An inexpensive dehumidifier can be one of the best investments for your garage. Aim to keep the humidity in your garage lower than 60 percent.
Add Ventilation: One of the best ways to keep your garage dry is to ensure there’s sunlight and good ventilation. Windows or sidewall ventilation fans are two options for keeping air moving through your garage.
Keep Mold Out of Your Basement
Whether your basement is a high-traffic area or an unfinished storage space, you want it to stay dry.
Seal Your Concrete: Your concrete pad and any walls below grade should be properly sealed to keep moisture from seeping through porous concrete and into your basement.
Empty Your Gutters: Water damage means mold. A functioning gutter system will keep your home dry and mold-free. Clean your gutters every year, and be sure to install downspout extensions to keep water moving away from your home and your foundation.
Landscape The Right Way: Those plants and that green lawn look great, sure. But they bring the potential for mold. Keep those shrubs a minimum of three feet from your foundation to ensure plenty of room and sunlight to keep things dry. This distance can also keep roots from growing into your foundation, which in turn creates a direct feed for water into your home. Be sure to add a slope to any mulch around your house so that rainwater and melted snow run away from your foundation—not toward it.
Other Mold Removal & Prevention Tips
If you have air conditioning units, guess what? They trap dust and pollen, as well as moisture.
That said, air conditioners, heating units that run off of gas or electricity, and dehumidifiers are all tools to help keep your home dry. Be sure to have all of these units serviced annually to ensure proper and safe functioning.
Common household appliances with potential for leaks include water heaters, washers, sinks, dishwashers and refrigerators. Checking hoses and fittings once a year is something you probably never think to do, but finding an elusive leak will make it time well spent.
When cooking, use lids to pots and pans when possible to keep the moisture contained to a small space, and use exhaust fans to eliminate leftover moisture from the air. Experts suggest cleaning your exhaust fans twice per year to keep them running efficiently. This can be the difference between dry walls and moldy drywall.
If you’ve got a leaky pipe under your kitchen sink or around the pipes in your walls, you’ve got a great place for mold to thrive. Look for water stains and discoloration, peeling or bubbling wallpaper, bubbling and cracking paint, and warping walls. If you find these signs, there’s a good chance there’s mold hiding.
Mold often grows behind walls or in wall cavities where damp air and moisture build up. In the same way, it can hide above a ceiling. Dirt and dust feed mold, so it can grow on windowsills and window frames, particularly around the seal where the frame meets the wall.
A roof inspection can identify trouble spots before they become too costly or hazardous. A roofing company will make sure all of your seals are tight and keep water from seeping into your home through your roof, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage before it’s even noticed. Even your chimney is the perfect home for mold, because crevices in the brick collect not only soot, but moisture, dirt and other debris as well.
Professional Mold Remediation Can Help
Remember that one of the most insidious things about mold is that it’s often hiding out in places where you can’t see it. If you’ve experienced flooding or excessive moisture, hire licensed and insured technicians to dry your home with state-of-the-art equipment and industrial-strength fans. A professional mold inspection team can make sure your home is completely free of leaks or other potential points of water entry. Mold removal services typically include:
- Basement Flood Cleanup
- Mold inspection
- Drywall and carpet tear outs
- Mold removal and renovation of your structure
- Deodorizing and odor control
- Emergency and non-emergency board up
Some mold removal companies also do sewage removal and treatment, as well as indoor air-quality testing.
Do whatever it takes to prevent mold in your home or business. And if you suspect the problem requires professional attention, call several mold removal companies in your area before you decide who to hire. They right company will explain their process and your options so you feel good about your decision.
This blog comes courtesy of Rogers Home Improvement in Terre Haute, Indiana.