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Why Worry About Mold?

photo by dimitrisvetsikas1969-

photo by dimitrisvetsikas1969-

During the winter months your home tends to be kept at warmer temperatures and often includes a level of moisture, especially if the weather has included rain and snow. This is when mold can gain a foothold in your home and starts spreading in areas you least expect it.

So What Is Mold Actually?

Molds are a type of fungus and there are many types of mold. Some mold is more prevalent indoors while many common molds grow outside as well. Mold spores cannot be eradicated entirely and will almost always be present in your home, reducing its possibility of growth means removing factors such as warmth and moisture, which may not always be possible.

Mold is also a very opportunistic fungus which is able to grow on a variety of surfaces, even those you may not expect to be suitable, such as wood, paper and fabric or even in the drywall. Penicillin is a mold that is commonly found on stale bread!  The colors of mold can vary greatly as well, from black, blue, green to yellow or white and it can look rough or fuzzy depending on the surface it has adhered to.

What Are The Potential Effects Of Mold In The Home?

While not all molds are harmful, many molds can trigger allergies and negatively affect people with respiratory conditions. Some molds can give off irritants and even mycotoxins that can be damaging to your health.  Mold allergies present as itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, runny nose or blocked nose and eyes that water a lot. The allergies can also trigger asthma. Inhaling spores from the aspergillus mold can even cause serious conditions such as bronchopulmonary aspergillosis which is a lung infection that can lead to long term scarring of the lungs and difficulty breathing.

So How Do You Combat Mold In Your Home?

The best way is to reduce moisture levels. If there are water spills in your home ensure they are cleaned up promptly and not left to soak into carpeting, insulation, flooring, cupboards and more. Improve ventilation in your home by using extractor fans or opening windows. Don’t dry your clothing indoors and avoid kerosene heaters.  Less moisture means there is less chance of mold taking hold in your home.

What Do I Do If I Find A Large Mold Contamination?

For large mold contamination or the typical ‘black mold’ becomes a problem in your home, it is often better to call in a professional to do a thorough clean up of the mold in your home. The can assess various surfaces as well as ascertain what is causing the mold and give advice on reducing future mold growth. While items that are thoroughly infiltrated by mold such as wood and furniture may not be able to be salvaged, many other items can be rescued by deep cleaning using steam.

A professional mold remediation company will wear the correct protective clothing and have the right tools and chemicals to deal with your mold contamination. This may save you from a long term problem as they should also be able to find the source of the problem and give you advice on mold resistance for the future.

Mold: Causes, Prevention and Treatments

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

There are many reasons why you may get mold growth in your home. Mold needs darkness, warmth, oxygen, moisture and a food source to begin growing. A food source can be something as simple as drywall, fabric or wood. Most of what mold needs is already in place in your home and it is only an increase in moisture that is needed to set the mold off. High humidity caused by the weather could start mold growing, or if you use a humidifier, keep the level below 55% humidity to reduce the chance of mold starting.

Water leaks in your home such as in your pipes or roof can result in mold starting it’s life-cycle in your house. Check for areas in your home that might have high condensation, especially if this runs off onto a carpet or an area covered by wood or fabric as this could be an excellent breeding ground for mold. Damp clothing, damp rooms, flooding and even water accumulating around the foundation of your home could all start mold growing in and around your home.

Mold can be kept under control by regular maintenance of water pipes and areas of dampness. Do not leave wet clothing lying around for long and dry up water spills as quickly as possible. Mold only needs around 24 hours of increased moisture to begin growing. If it is possible to reduce condensation and humidity in your home, this is also something to consider. Lower condensation in warmer rooms, lower humidity percentage and dryer air will reduce the risk of mold spores gaining a foothold in your rooms.

Treating mold growth in your home differs depending on the material that the mold is growing on. Some surfaces, such as painted walls, can be wiped clean of mold and use a solution such as vinegar, borax or ammonia (check detergent specifications) to clean the surface thoroughly of mold spores. Mold growing on drywall cannot be removed efficiently and this should be cut out and discarded and the drywall replaced. Mold on your ceiling and other surfaces can be wiped off with detergents to remove the spores unless it is a porous material. On porous materials, it is best to remove the item or section of ceiling etc. completely and replace it as you cannot remove mold from porous materials.

It is recommended that you bring in a professional when you suspect mold inside your walls and HVAC systems as these will be need to be thoroughly checked and professionally treated. Mold can also be found on the top of ceiling boards, under floors (especially wood flooring), in your air ducts, in insulation, on windows and frames and is often found in basements that are not well aerated and might retain moisture.

While it is impossible to eliminate all mold spores from your home, you can reduce the number of mold spores by cleaning and vacuuming your home often, reducing levels of moisture, eliminating leaks, allowing sun and air into your home (UV kills mold) and keeping your home cool where possible. Mold needs a combination of heat, moisture, dark, oxygen and something it can eat to start growing, if you eliminate any of these factors, you can significantly reduce the chance of mold growing in your home.