What can I do about mold? There are many ways to deal with it.
Owning a home is already an expensive venture for most people and mold can be a costly and even dangerous issue for homeowners. Not only can mold put a huge dent in your pocket, it can impact your health severely. Therefore, it’s important to practice mold prevention and mold control.
The first and foremost way to deal with mold is to prevent it from growing in your house. Prevention is also the most important means for avoiding severe health effects. Using certain products, daily habits and house maintenance you can successfully keep those pesky molds, fungi and slime away. How do you do so? You minimize and stop any persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and your house’s structure and foundation.
Some specific tips are:
• Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
• Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months to keep your house dry.
• Put an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom to get rid of the moisture
• Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
• Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
• Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
• Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
• Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
• Clean garbage cans often
• Scrub your sinks and bath tubs at least monthly. Fungi thrive on soap and other films that coat tiles and grout. For problem areas, use ordinary laundry bleach (1 ounce diluted in a quart of water).
• Clean refrigerator door gaskets and drip pans
• Quickly repair any plumbing leaks, blocked drains, poorly vented clothes dryers and water seepage through walls. Especially in the basement.
• Promote ground water drainage away from a house. Remove leaves and dead vegetation near the foundation and in the rain gutters. Completely shaded homes dry out slowly, and dense bushes and other plants around the foundation often promote dampness. In the winter, condensation on cold walls encourages mold growth, but even thick insulation can be invaded if vapor barriers in exterior walls are not effective.
• Throw away or recycle old books, newspapers, clothing or bedding
• When painting, priming or wallpaper your homes walls add fungicides paste to slow mold growth. Fungicides are chemicals that help prevent mold and can be found in most paint or hardware stores.
• Raise the temperature in the basement to help lower humidity levels. Small space heaters or a low-wattage light bulb may be useful in damp closets. Be careful where they are placed, though, to avoid creating a fire hazard
• Use central air conditioning with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment. It will help trap spores before they reach you. Air conditioning with a HEPA filter attached works better than electrostatic air-cleaning devices and much better than freestanding air cleaners. Devices that treat air with heat, ions or ozone are not recommended.
If you already have mold growth, you can still control it and stop it from spreading.
Inside homes, you can deal with mold growth by slowing by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
• Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
• Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
• Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
• If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
The two worst places to battle mold:
While indoors, where fungi grow in damp areas and the bathroom, kitchen or basement are common target areas, the most difficult and costliest of areas are attics and crawl spaces. This is due to their space restrictions and the time and tools it takes to properly remove mold from these areas. Attics and crawl spaces are highly susceptible to mold growth because moisture can easily accumulate in these spaces. Homeowners typically don’t spend much time in these places and can be unaware of any impending problems that can be magnified if left unattended too long. Side note- the basement is a close contender, especially after a heavy flooding.
Studies indicate that an entire SIXTY percent of homes have crawl space mold!
Important warning signs of possible growth in attics and crawl spaces are:
1. Roof leaks;
2. Improper ventilation; and/or
3. Improper venting from pipes and/or vents.
Why is moisture accumulation so common in crawl spaces?
Mold requires two things for growth. Moisture and food. Crawl spaces are the foundation underneath your house. These spaces are in close contact with soil and dirt which contain moisture and provide an endless supply of said moisture. The food sources in crawl spaces come from things such as the wood found in sub flooring.
Deal with mold by checking for cracks in the foundation walls where water can enter. Also check the ceiling. These holes can be a gateway for mold and water to transport from the crawl space into your living area. Gutters and downspouts should point away from the house, or they will be the culprits of water finding its way into your home. Dryer vents should also vent outside and not inward. Ventilation in crawl spaces may not seem important because you don’t linger in them, but they are essential for helping air out the space and keeping the area dry. Ventilation’s best friend is insulation. Line your heated areas with insulation and the rest with overlapped plastic sheeting. Insulation and plastic sheets are great tell-tale signs of any water damage accruing.
While you battle mold, it’s imperative that you avoid contact with the spores especially if you are allergic to mold. Take medications for nasal or other allergic symptoms.