Home Invasion: Dealing With Mold

By: Christian Jacobsen

Many people have probably encountered a black substance around windows - this is an example of mold. This small amount of fungus is probably not harmful, but it is indicative of a moisture issue - mold grows in areas of excess moisture. Larger growths of mold can cause health problems for your family and can damage materials in your home or your home itself.

There are several ways to prevent and minimize mold - most importantly, keep your home dry, and find and fix leaks. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum, they have special filters that capture small mold spores. De-cluttering helps to keep air circulating through your home, discouraging the growth of spores. Make sure gutters and downspouts drain away from the house. Proper exterior grading can also ensure proper drainage.

In order to reduce the moisture levels in your home, target the areas that generate humidity: bathing, cooking, plants (soil can be a breeding ground for mold). Install extractor fans that vent outside and a dehumidifier if necessary. Keep showers short and dry the walls and floor afterwards. Be sure to vent your dryer outside

There are over 270 species of mold that grow in homes, and the signs are quite colorful: patches of blue, violet, black, white, orange, yellow, or red are all indicators of a mold growth in your home. If you find discoloration you can test it by dabbing it with bleach: if the color fades or the stain disappears you may have mold on your hands. If there is no change in the stain it's unlikely to be mold. Sometimes smell is an indicator, be aware of musty or earthy odors.

If you finds mold in your home you can clean small patches by yourself, but leave larger growths to the experts. To clean mold, wear a dust mask, rubber household gloves and safety goggles. Isolate the area, keep it well ventilated and keep family members (especially children and those with respiratory or immune deficient diseases) out of the work area and adjacent rooms. Remember - the clean up should be quick. If you think the job will take longer than a few minutes it's better to call in professionals.

Use unscented detergent (bleach further reduces air quality and is not always effective at killing spores). First scrub the affected area, then use a clean wet rag to quickly wipe the patch and follow with a dry cloth to ensure the area dries rapidly.

Further follow up may be required on certain materials. For instance on drywall you may need to cut out the affected area and replace it, but only after the source of moisture has been identified and dealt with.

Be sure to discard moldy materials as well as furniture and carpets that have gotten wet or were stored in damp conditions. Remember - painting will not kill or remove mold problems and cleaning alone is not a solution - the moisture source must be dealt with in order to stop the growth of mold.

If the mold returns, you have an ongoing issue that requires professional attention. The longer you leave it, the worse it will become so deal with it quickly in order to ensure the health of you home and your family.

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