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Five household mold problems and prevention strategies

January 8, 2017

Household mold is a fact of life. That said the good news is that mold can be managed and eradicated in order to ensure a healthier indoor environment. First it should be noted that moisture is needed for mold to grow. Keeping your home dry and free of water and moisture will greatly reduce the chances of developing mold. It is also important to note that mold spores can remain dormant for extended periods until moisture and temperature conditions permit their re-growth. Mold requires some kind of nutrient or food to multiply and grow. This can include anything from carpeting to wood flooring or even paper and clothing.

Perhaps most important of all to consider when we talk about mold growth is the associated health hazards. It is a proven fact that extended exposure to mold can cause dangerous respiratory problems. This is especially true when exposure involves young children or the elderly. While mold cannot ever be completely removed from our world, preventing its occurrences and limiting its growth is possible and indeed relatively easy to accomplish. Here are five areas inside your home where mold is known to grow and thrive.

Basement

Mold is frequently found growing in cold damp basement environments. Basement growth is most prevalent in homes that are missing an essential waterproof barrier or where poorly sloped construction is a factor. Inadequate drainage and foundation cracks can also contribute to the growth of mold. In addition, the storage of old furniture, paper documents and even cardboard boxes stacked on concrete surfaces in a basement can easily promote the growth of unwanted mold.

The remedy for these types of basement mold problems includes checking the entire area using a hygrometer. This type of equipment is used to detect and measure indoor humidity. Humidity should be kept under 55% as a way to limit mold growth. A basement can also be heated and dehumidified as necessary as a way to lower moisture levels. Checking outside drainage for proper functioning is also a good idea. Replacing moisture barriers and drainage pipes can go a long way in correcting a mold problem. As an added note, it is always recommended to keep vegetation as far away from your home as possible.

Bathroom

It is a known fact that bathrooms produce high levels of humidity due to bathing and showering. In short, a bathroom is considered a prime location favorable to the growth of mold. Shower stalls, walls and areas were caulking exists are particularly problematic. One sign of growth is when caulking becomes discolored or black. Even grout lines in tile flooring can show signs of mold growth. Something known as “capillary action” can allow moisture or water to seep under tile flooring and behind walls. The end result can be undetected, slow and steady mold growth.

A strong odor is often one of the first signs that mold has grown unabated. A musty odor or the smell of mildew typically requires further investigation. Condensation on the outside of a toilet can also promote unwanted mold formation. It is often seen growing underneath a toilet tank and can eventually spread to the floor due to condensation drippings. Most alarming is when the wax seal underneath a toilet becomes brittle and begins to leak. This can allow moisture to migrate under title or other kinds of flooring material producing conditions that are perfect for the propagation of mold.

The best way to handle bathroom mold is to have a properly functioning ceiling exhaust fan in use whenever showering or bathing. The fan should be left running even after leaving the bathroom for up to an hour. Never leave wet towels or clothing on the floor in your bathroom. Anytime you detect dark colored caulking consider having it replaced. Always keep grout lines sealed and monitor humidity levels inside your bathroom. Another excellent strategy is to repaint a bathroom with a paint that contains antimicrobial agents.

In addition, it is best to clean out all drains in your bathroom frequently. Hydrogen peroxide poured directly into drains on occasion will stop moldy growth. Equally important is to always monitor the inside and outside of toilet tanks. Old or poorly functioning toilets should be replaced with newer more modern units. Always have a professional plumber or contractor do the work to ensure proper installation.

Kitchen

Mold is often detected in kitchens behind refrigerators, under sinks and even on walls and ceilings. Cooking in areas of poor ventilation can increase humidity levels further promoting the development of mold. Even something as simple as a minor leak in a dishwasher water line can eventually result in a serious mold problem.

The easiest way to remedy mold in a bathroom is to periodically check for appliance leaks or any signs of resulting mold growth. Areas around the sink should be kept clean and re-caulked regularly. It is also highly recommended to only run a dishwasher while you are at home. This will prevent a serious leak from causing substantial water damage and eventually moldy growth. When cooking always have an exhaust fan running and open windows to ensure good airflow and circulation. Some homeowners also choose to purchase water leak alarms for appliances. This is an inexpensive and effective way of being alerted to leaks in everything from a washing machine to a water heater or even a refrigerator.

Windows

Mold is frequently detected around metal-framed windows and on windowsills. This is especially true of sills that are made of wood. However, even vinyl windows can experience the growth of mold. When moisture, dirt and dust are all present around windows, growth can occur. Virtually any surface in a home can be susceptible to this troublesome kind of problem. This includes everything from outside facing walls to a ceiling and closet walls as well as surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens and really almost any other area imaginable.

The best way to handle mold growth on windows and surfaces is to keep everything dry and free of moisture. When condensation develops on windows it is best to use a dry clean cloth to remove the moisture. A mixture of dish soap and vinegar combined with water can effectively clean windows and prevent unwanted growth. Equal portions of vinegar and soap combined with ten parts water is usually the best mixture for this purpose. Alternately, baking soda, vinegar or borax can also produce similar results.

Attic

Mold frequently forms in attics because of poor ventilation. This is especially true during the winter months when condensation tends to form on attic sheathing. If mold is allowed to continue to grow for a considerable length of time it will ultimately damage this important component of an attic. A leaking roof can quickly result in moldy growth. In addition, excessive humidity and moisture migrating from living spaces below may cause attic borne mold.

Having a professional contractor check your attic for proper insulation and good weather stripping maintenance can help to prevent problems. Adding additional insulation is also a smart strategy for keeping a residential home attic in top condition year round. A contractor should inspect bathroom and laundry vents that transit through the roof. Also, there should be no vent air discharged into the attic space. Equally important is to ensure that the sheathing between rafters has properly installed baffles. Perhaps most important of all is to make certain that no roof leaks are present. If leaks are detected have them repaired immediately.

Pro Inspections

Having a professional Vancouver home inspection is the best way to address any mold related issues. Anytime growth is discovered it is best to have a remediation team address the problem. This will keep your home safe and healthy. Having an indoor air quality test performed is also a good way to detect mold and mildew related issues and keeps your indoor air quality at its best.

Peter Jesal

Peter is a professional Maple Ridge home inspector with years of experience in working with both residential and commercial properties. He specializes in infrared thermal imaging inspections, indoor air quality testing and general home inspections. Visit Jesalhomeinspections.com today to learn more. Jesal Home Inspections is open seven days a week serving Vancouver as well as the lower mainland. . Jesal Home Inspections is a Better Business Bureau accredited company that offers 100% satisfaction guarantee on all work performed. Call today!

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