Does your home have mold? Mold may be growing in certain areas of your home and you may not even know it. If your home does have mold, removing it as quickly as possible is definitely advised. Mold can cause damage to your home but it can also cause problems to your health, especially if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma. In this article from our friends at Enviro Maids, they explain what exactly mold is, how to detect if it is in your home, and ways to remove and prevent mold.
Mold is a four-letter word for some homeowners. Depending on where you live and if you have moisture problems in your home, you may have a mold problem. Mold thrives in damp, dark environments, and after Hurricane Sandy, mold problems became even more troublesome for many homeowners as flood waters invaded their basements. Not only is mold smelly and unsightly, it can pose a health risks for many. With the help of the EPA and CDC, we’ll answer general questions about mold — what is mold? How do I know if I have it in my house? Is it harmful? How do I get rid of it? How do I prevent it from growing?
What is mold?
Molds are musty-smelling fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Molds thrive in warm, damp, and humid conditions. Basements and crawl spaces are the ideal places for mold to grow. Molds reproduce through tiny spores invisible to the naked eye that float through outdoor and indoor air. When these spores attach to indoor surfaces that are wet, they begin to grow and multiply. As long as there is moisture present, mold can grow on many surfaces including wood, leather, paper, and carpet.
How do I know if my house has mold?
The simplest way to determine if you have mold in your house is to follow your nose! Large mold infestations have that distinct musty odor. Basements are the main source of mold, that’s why they’re notorious for having a musty smell. Once you smell mold, look for its presence on exposed surfaces such as walls and ceiling tiles. Mold often looks like black, brown, green stains or a fuzzy white film.
Is mold harmful?
Some people are more sensitive to molds than others especially allergy and asthma suffers and people with some lung conditions. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, redness and watering of the eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions.
How do I get rid of mold?
It’s impossible to get rid of every trace of mold. The goal is to remove as much mold as possible and then to take measures to prevent mold spores from growing into unhealthy levels. As long as the moisture problem has been resolved, these spores will not grow. Consult with a professional to help with your specific mold problem.
According to the EPA, the use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms (including chlorine bleach) is not recommended for mold cleanup due to the harshness and toxicity of these chemicals. There may be instances, however, when a professional may suggest its use. To remove mold contained to smaller areas, scrub hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy.
Can I prevent mold?
Since mold needs moisture and humidity to grown, the key to preventing mold is to control the moisture and humidity in your home. The EPA website suggests these preventive measures:
- Use air conditioners in the summer and install dehumidifiers in the basement to lower indoor humidity to less than 60%.
- Vent bathrooms and dryers to the outside.
- Use exhaust fans whenever cooking.
- Add insulation to prevent condensation on cold surfaces such as windows, piping, exterior walls, and roof.
- If the source of mold is due to a leak or if water is getting inside the house from the outside, fix the source of the water problem. Make sure the ground slopes away from your house and that gutters and downspouts are functioning properly.
- Remove or replace carpets that have been soaked and cannot be quickly dried.