Mold is one of the more common problems in homes today but actually people are routinely exposed to more than 200 species of fungi every day.
The terms “mold” and “mildew” are nontechnical names commonly used to refer to any fungus that is growing in our home. Mold colonies may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery, and may be white, gray, black, brown, yellow, greenish, or other colors.
Many molds or fungi reproduce by dispersion of spores and usually feed on dead organic material such as wood cellulose in paper and on drywall, glues found in carpet and even common dust.
Danger of Molds
Certain molds can cause a variety of adverse human health effects, including allergic reactions and immune responses such as asthma, infectious disease such as histoplasmosis and toxic effects aflatoxin-induced liver cancer from exposure to mold produced toxin in food.
The Institute of Medicine sufficient evidence for an association between exposure to mold or other agents in damp indoor environments and: upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheeze, hypersensitivity pneumonitis in susceptible persons, and asthma symptoms in sensitized persons.
Causes of Mold
Because dormant Molds are found on every surface it is the introduction of the correct environment that causes the mold to grow. Water is a big factor and Food and warmth for the mold to grow is often why you commonly find mold growing in well known areas such as basements or interior walls where leaks in roofing or water lines are found.
Identifying the Mold
Because there are so many different types of mold most people are not able to identify the exact type of mold by a visual inspection. Samples should be taken and analized by a professional.
Some contractors will use a Moisture meter to identify potential areas that mold could grow but this is not evidence of actual mold.
Some of the things you can do to prevent mold
• Changing HVAC filters frequently, as recommended by manufacturer
• Keeping gutters and downspouts in working order and ensuring that they drain water away from the foundation
• Routinely checking, cleaning, and drying drip pans in air conditioners, refrigerators, and dehumidifiers
• Maintaining a humidity level in the home of 40% to 60%.
• Increasing ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms by using exhaust fans
• Venting clothes dryers to the outside
• Reducing the number of indoor plants
• Using air conditioning at times of high outdoor humidity
• Heating all rooms in the winter
• Using a sump pump in basements prone to flooding
• Vapor barriers, sump pumps, and above ground vents can also be installed in crawlspaces to prevent moisture problems
How to remove Mold
Once an item is wet for more then 2 days you can consider it to have mold growing on it.
For this reason if you can not completely dry out items within the first day you should either clean them with a bleach solution or strongly consider discarding them.
When performing the work you will want to protect yourself. Tyvek Suits are available in many supply stores and a N-95 Respirator that protects you from Mold can be purchased from most hardware sales companies.
Hard surfaces such as Tile and interiors of Appliances can often be cleaned and reused but soft fabrics in clothes, Mattresses, Upholstered Furniture and Rugs should be discarded once they have visible signs of mold or have set in water for an extended time.
Drywall and insulation should be removed to at least a few feet above the water damage line. If mold is present then you should remove the drywall and treat the studs with a strong bleach solution which must be kept wet with the bleach solution for at least 3 hours.
Pressure washing can also be used on exterior surfaces and floors. Mold Abatement additives are available and should be used when working on wood and other porous surfaces.
The specific detailed steps for removing mold can’t always be applied to every situation. However Bleach Solutions can kill fungi and mold substances.
If you do not have a source for the mold such as a flood or burst pipe then you will need to examine all of the surrounding materials to find the leak. Sometimes water leaks from a roof can travel distances across the attic and may not show up directly under the roof leak.
When in doubt always hire a professional inspector.
Once the clean up has been performed and the building is dry you can make use of mold test kits to monitor any remaining problem.
Mold can be dangerous and life threatening so it is important that you take the presence of mold seriously. In many instances simple steps can be applied to reduce mold from growing and when found it can often be removed without too much problem.
If you have a Mold problem
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to test for and clean up Mold.