Mold 101: Facts, Fixes & Prevention

Mold is all around us; it can be found in our homes, outside and virtually anywhere there is moisture. As a naturally occurring fungi, outdoor molds help make room for the new by breaking down dead organic material, like leaves in the fall. However, indoor mold isn’t always so benevolent.

Mold growth in your home should be avoided. Because mold reproduces by means of invisible spores, it is important to keep an eye on the areas of your home where moisture can be found, such as the basement, bathrooms and laundry room. These spores flow through your home and may grow mold if the spores land in a damp or moist area.

You should know: There are many types of mold, none will grow without water.

The Effects of Mold on Your Health

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Exposure to mold may cause a number of different side effects for some, or none at all for others. Symptoms for those who are sensitive to damp and moldy environments may include stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing/wheezing, or skin irritation. Individuals with allergies, mold allergies, compromised immune systems or chronic lung disease may show more severe reactions to indoor mold or develop an infection. Molds produce allergens, irritants and potentially toxic substances and may not cause symptoms right away.

Some studies have suggested a potential link between early mold exposure and the development of asthma among children, particularly among those who may be genetically predisposed to developing asthma. It’s also suggested that improving indoor air quality conditions can reduce asthma and allergy symptoms – however, research is ongoing.

“In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IoM) found sufficient evidence to link evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and asthma symptoms in people with asthma. They also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals.”
–The CDC

Additionally, in 2009, WHO (the World Health Organization) issued the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness & Mold, which provides further information.

Mold & Your Home

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Where to look for mold: 

  • Mold is found inside and outside of your home
  • Mold can enter your home through open doors, windows, vents and heating/air conditioning systems
  • Spores outside may attach themselves to your clothing and apparel, walking into your home with you
  • As stated, mold will grow where there is moisture, such as roof leaks, cracked window sills, broken pipes or where there has been flooding
  • Mold is frequently found in humid or wet rooms of your home (basements, laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms)
  • Mold grows well on a variety of surfaces including paper products, cardboard and ceiling tiles. It can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric and upholstery

Preventing & Controlling Mold in Your Home

For a homeowner, parent or generally health conscious person – all of the above can sound pretty scary, but don’t worry! There are things you can do to prevent mold from growing and spreading, and they’re quite easy to do:

  • Keep humidity levels low. No higher than 50%. An AC or dehumidifier will help but because humidity levels change over the course of the day, you may need to test the air more than once a day.
  • Ventilation is very important to keeping your home mold free. Use exhaust vents in areas like the kitchen and bathroom
  • Make sure your dryer vents are outside of your home
  • Quickly dry and fix leaky roofs, windows or pipes
  • If you experience a flood, thoroughly clean and dry the area within 24-48 hours
  • Remove or replace carpets or furniture that could not be properly dried
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting rooms in your home

You Should know: A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home by the EPA

What to Do if Mold is Already in Your Home

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Oftentimes, mold can be easily remediated with household products. If you find mold in your home, it is imperative that you clean up the mold and fix the source of the moisture problem. Mold growth can be easily removed from hard surfaces with household cleaning products, soap and water, or a bleach solution (1 cup bleach, 1 gallon water).

You should know: If you choose to use bleach, please keep the following in mind

  • Never mix bleach with any other household cleaning products or ammonia, as this could produce toxic fumes
  • Allow fresh air to flow through your home by opening windows and doors
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eyewear

When is it Time to Call a Professional?

Mold can be identified as spots of varying colors and can smell musty. If you can see the mold, there may be a health risk present. If the mold is visible and has grown beyond an area of 10 square feet (3ftx3ft) or if the mold continues to reappear, it’s time to consult a pro.

Mold certainly can’t be removed from everywhere, but our experts can help you make your home’s indoor air clean, fresh and harmful-allergen free.

If you are experiencing mold issues in your home, contact us today to speak to an expert and schedule your free estimate.

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