Tips for Keeping Your Home Mold Free
Mold can cause big headaches for homeowners for a number of reasons. It can grow on a variety of surfaces including carpet, wood, paper, and insulation. In out of the way places such as basement corners, attics, and crawl spaces, mold can develop and remain undetected for months. Of course there are health concerns associated with mold as well. It can contribute to allergies, eye and skin irritations, and respiratory issues, including asthma. The key to avoiding problem mold is indoor moisture control. This is why it is vital to take care of leaks, blocked gutters, faulty plumbing, missing shingles, or anything else that could result in the slightest amount of moisture seeping into your home.
What mold does:
Although mold is a natural occurrence, it is not natural for it to proliferate inside a home. In the forest, mold plays a key role by breaking down organic matter like leaves and dead trees. Outside, the way mold reproduces by emitting tiny spores into the air is very beneficial to the composting process of vegetative matter. It’s an entirely different story when that action happens inside!
When surfaces inside a home become even just slightly damp, mold spores can float through the air, settle on the host surface, and grow like crazy. Because the tiny spores are undetectable to the naked eye, unsuspecting homeowners could have mold for a long period of time before it actually gets noticed. In addition to causing health woes, molds can slowly cause the deterioration of the host surface. The cycle of dampness causes mold to multiply and spread, which leads to the complete breakdown of the materials it’s growing on. The bottom line is that mold causes rot and decay, which can be very expensive to fix if undetected or untreated for a long period of time.
When in doubt, hire a pro.
To keep your home mold free, moisture control is crucial. Should you notice a problem, such as a leak or damp spot, take care of it immediately. Be aware that a professional may need to take a look, especially for tricky areas such as ceilings and roofs. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that water-damaged areas and items within a home should be dried within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold from growing.
If mold has already moved in, follow these steps to get rid of the pesky fungi:
- Find the source
Do not waste valuable time scrubbing away mold and replacing damaged components until the root cause is identified. Is moisture seeping in due to a structural defect or is condensation creating excessive moisture, such as a “sweating” refrigerator or freezer?
- Fix the problem
To ensure that pesky mold spores don’t revisit your home, remove all of the moisture-damaged materials. Take steps to repair and replace any problem areas so they will remain dry and mold-free.
To ensure that all of your hard work is not a waste of time, the Environmental Protection Agency has the following recommendations for maintaining a mold-free home:
- Check your home’s foundation to ensure that the ground around it slopes away, so that water does not puddle and create moisture problems.
- If your home has gutters, clean them regularly so that water is not trapped around the roofline.
- Periodically check the air conditioning system so that drip pans and drain lines do not become clogged.
- Invest in a humidity meter, which should run around $50 or less. They are available at many hardware stores and are used to measure the relative humidity. The ideal range is between 30 and 50 percent.
- Should you notice condensation on any surface, including windows, walls, or pipes, wipe away the water droplets and find a way to reduce the humidity.
- Ways to reduce humidity inside a home include venting appliances, using fans and exhaust fans, plus increasing ventilation naturally by opening windows and doors.
- When cold surfaces, such as pipes and windows, warm up, condensation may occur. Keeping pipes wrapped in insulated material and windows exposed to warm air, such as through your home’s heating system, can prevent drastic shifts in air temperature and keep mold from growing.
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