Why Should You Care if You Prevent Mold?
Like everything else in Nature, mold has its role. It has an important part to play in the decomposition of organic matter. We humans find it useful for making penicillin and cheese. But at the same time, uncontrolled mold growing around us presents significant health risks.
The people most vulnerable to mold are those with asthma, allergies, and weakened immune systems. But anyone can react adversely if he or she spends enough time in proximity to mold.
Early symptoms of mold exposure include itchy eyes, skin irritation, nasal congestion, and trouble breathing. Eventually the symptoms can worse to include chest inflammation, upper respiratory infections, and chronic lung illness. Especially dangerous forms of mold release substances called mycotoxins that can produce bleeding lungs, chronic bronchitis, and cardiac problems.
So to say the least, it’s a good idea to know how to keep mold from growing. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy. Mold can flourish on just about any organic surface where oxygen and moisture are available. Some grows on cellulose material like wallboard, wallpaper, and cardboard, and other types thrive on decaying wood and water-damaged drywall. The fact that mold spores are invisible to the human eye only compounds the problem.
Still, it is often possible to prevent mold. The following tips will guide you in your efforts to keep mold away.
How to Prevent Mold: Look for It
Check regularly for signs that mold is growing. Be particularly careful when checking surfaces that are prone to dampness. Check out musty smells and stains or spots on walls, carpeting, and floors. If someone else is cleaning the building, make sure they’re on the lookout for mold too.
Here are some of the places mold is likely to take hold:
- In attics with leaky roofs
- Ductwork and pipes
- Air conditioning and heating systems
- Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms
- Around windows
- Basements and crawlspaces
- Household plants. These are prone to mold, but adding a little Taheebo tea to the water you give them will help keep them mold free.
How to Prevent Mold: Improve the Ventilation
Open doors and windows when the weather’s dry outside. Open doors between rooms and closet doors and move furniture away from walls to improve the flow of air. Install bath vent fans that vent to the outside and run them for fifteen minutes after a shower.
How to Prevent Mold: Lower the Humidity Inside the Building
Keep the humidity inside a structure between 30 and 50 percent. You can check it with a humidity gauge and lower it with a dehumidifier if appropriate. Properly venting gas appliances to the outside will help too, as will making sure the air conditioner is of the appropriate size. An unnecessarily large air conditioner may cool a building faster, but it won’t remove as much moisture from the air.
How to Prevent Mold: Use Mold-Resistant Products
A number of modern products are mold-resistant including new forms of drywall, Sheetrock, gypsum board, and paint. Use them when you can.
How to Prevent Mold: Repair Promptly
Cracked foundations, leaking roofs, and unsealed doorframes and windows all invite mold to invade a building. Fix them as soon as you find them.
Here’s a list of list of problems that may well need to be addressed quickly to prevent mold:
- Roof and wall leaks
- Leaky windows in need of caulking and weather stripping
- Window condensation can lead to mold. Get rid of the condensation with insulated glass or storm windows.
- Plumbing leaks. Your plumbing may also be in need of insulation.
- Rain gutters and downspouts. Keep these clear and in good order. Make sure the flow from downspouts is channeled away from the building.
- Air conditioner drainage. Make sure the drains aren’t clogged.
- If there’s condensation or excess moisture, you may need to repair or replace wet insulation.
- Air filters. Use good-quality air filters and replace them regularly.
- Basement and foundation leaks.
- Water under the house. Check the crawlspace for dampness and spread black plastic on the ground if needed to control humidity.
How to Prevent Mold: Clean at the Core
Ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems can all blow mold spores around, but you can minimize this by having your HVAC system and ductwork cleaned and maintained regularly.
How to Prevent Mold: Talk to a Professional
A professional mold remediation can help you develop a mold prevention plan tailored to your particular structure.
When You Didn’t Prevent Mold: Basics of Mold Removal
It may be that despite taking all the precautions above, you end up with a mold problem anyway. In that case, someone will need to get rid of the mold, and it’s conceivable you can do it yourself it the mold occupies an area of less than 10 square feet. If there’s more mold than this, you should always bring in a mold remediation professional.
If you decide to try removing the mold yourself, do the following:
- Wear rubber gloves. These should go halfway up your forearms. The exact composition of the gloves depends on the cleaning agent you’re using. Household rubber gloves will work for household detergents. Stronger cleaners require neoprene rubber gloves.
- Wear an N-95 respirator. You can get one at most hardware stores.
- Scrub mild cases with warm water and detergent.
- If the mold infestation is more severe, use a mixture of one cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Never, ever mix bleach with cleaner containing ammonia lest you produce a toxic gas.
- Dry the affected area to get rid of the moisture that enables mold to thrive.
- When you’re done scrubbing, if the scrubbing worked, you will no longer see any sign of mold nor will you smell any trace of a moldy odor.
- Make sure the surface is entirely clean and dry before any caulking or painting.
Finally, if your structure still smells moldy or if people are still experiencing what appear to be mold-related health issues despite your efforts, once again, that’s the time to call in a professional.