Most people don’t like mold. We all know enough to throw out food that has been in the refrigerator a bit too long and developed the fuzzy greenish-gray covering. But what about mold that is less apparent? Mold can hide and lurk in places you never see—always areas of dampness, such as behind walls and in dark attic spaces. Mold produces allergens, irritants, and potentially toxic substances that put people’s health at risk. For example, when inhaled or touched, mold can cause an allergic reaction or provoke an asthma attack or other respiratory symptoms.
Outdoors, we know that mold plays a useful and important role. But indoors, it is always best to avoid mold infestations, or, when you realize you have one, take immediate steps to clean and remediate it. Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, but are always floating through the air. When mold spores land on wet or damp surfaces, within 24-48 hours, mold begins to grow. In addition to causing a potentially serious health threat, mold can damage whatever surface it grows on, whether it is cloth, leather, cardboard, or some other porous surface.
Even though mold spores are present just about everywhere, unless moisture is present, they will not grow. Therefore, the best way to control the growth of mold in your home is to control the amount of moisture and humidity in your home. Once mold takes hold in one area of your home, you should consider that a warning sign of a larger moisture problem elsewhere. Flooding, plumbing leaks, and other water problems can result in the growth of mold in the immediate area where the water damage occurred. This mold is likely visible to the eye. But, other hidden areas of the home where dampness and humidity occur, such as behind walls, in ceilings, insulation and ductwork, can also promote the growth of mold. Look outside your home, too, as mold can grow in vents, on siding and decks, under roof flashing, and in window wells.
While simply wiping the mold from the surface may appear to stop the problem, that one step is not enough. And, if untreated or treated incorrectly, the mold infestation can grow even larger. But, by proactively taking the following 7 steps, you will be well on your way to getting mold under control:
- To identify if a spot on the wall is mold or dirt, dab the spot with a cotton swab that has been dipped in diluted bleach. If the spot lightens quickly, it is probably mold. You will need to take further action to locate the source, clean it, and remove it.
- To prevent mold from recurring, spray an antimicrobial treatment on the area that was previously infested, but is now clean and dry. This step is most effective in small areas. An area where a larger infestation previously occurred will probably require further treatment.
- When building or renovating an area where water or humidity has been a problem, use mold-resistant building materials to minimize the chance of a mold infestation starting or returning.
- When painting, use an antimicrobial treatment on surfaces where mold might grow (or from which mold has been cleaned) to prevent the mold from growing or coming back. Use a primer that is mildew-resistant or add a mildewcide to existing paint.
- In bathtubs and showers, clean caulk and grout that is stained, spray surfaces with an antimicrobial treatment, regrout, and caulk. Coating the entire surface with a grout sealant to fully finish the area.
- Keep water from entering your basement or crawlspace by making sure the mulch beds and yard around the house are graded and sloping away from the house to where they drain properly.
- Inspect your roof annually. Check for moisture in attics, insulation, and eaves. If you find water or dampness, immediately fix leaky flashings and shingles, dry the wet area, and treat it for mold.
If you know your home has a mold infestation, or suspect you might have a mold problem, call the professionals at Warren Cleaning and Restoration. Our team is certified by the mold specialists, MICRO, and by the cleaning and restoration specialists, IICRC, so you know we will treat your mold problem safely and effectively. We work within an approximate 2-hour radius of our two family-owned and operated offices in Big Stone Gap, VA, and Hendersonville, NC, and we’re available to take your emergency call 24/7.
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