The scariest phrase out of a home inspector’s mouth is “You have mold in your house.” Images of men running around in Hazmat suits and the high cost of mold removal strike fear. Not to mention, the possible health risks associated with exposure to mold spores. However, there are some steps a homeowner can take to protect the family against mold.
Most common household mold is seen as black spots or splotches. They love to grow in areas that contain high amounts of moisture. Bathrooms, closets, or the basement are especially common places to find mold. Remember that water can accumulate in low lying areas and can become breeding grounds for mold.
*Potential Harm from Mold
The Redwood Environmental Service states that the potential health hazards from mold are respiratory, wheezing, skin rashes, fevers, watery and itchy eyes, sinus congestion, and general aches and pains. They further state that those with compromised immune systems, existing respiratory systems, pregnant women, elderly, or children are especially sensitive to mold.
*Searching for Mold
When undertaking a search for mold, a flashlight might be needed. The first place to check is the basement. If the basement floods easily, then it should be checked more often. Check for places that seem wet or have a musty type smell. Check all the walls of the basement and the ceiling beams for big black splotches.
Inspect the areas where the house and yard meet. Standing water or pooling water on the outside may cause mold on the inside. Regrading may be needed to direct water away from the foundation and keep mold under control.
Look under the windows and around doors for water leakage. Check little used closets. Wet carpeting or water stains on the walls indicate water leakage and needs to be looked into immediately.
Bathrooms are notorious for mold growth and multiplication. This is due to the high humidity from the shower or bath. Without an adequate way to escape, the humidity stays and creates ideal conditions for mold to grow.
*Getting Rid of Mold
Stop the source of incoming water. Regrading the landscape around the house will direct water away. If a pipe has burst, stop the water as fast as possible. In the bathroom, a small fan will allow humidity to escape, reducing the amount of mold growth.
According to the EPA, cleaning small areas of mold need a pair of rubber gloves, bleach, an N95 respirator, and a scrub brush to eliminate surface mold. The use of detergent and water is recommended by the EPA, to clean up mold.
For large mold contamination, a professional may need to be called in. Check the credentials of the contractor to be sure they can adequately take care of the mold. Porous surfaces that have become completely contaminated need to be taken up and replaced.
Defeating mold is possible. Eliminate the water source. Clean up any existing mold with the proper equipment. Increase circulation in the bathrooms. Make regular inspections. The war against mold can be won.