Let’s talk about Mold

Most of know it’s not healthy for us when inhaling or coming in contact with it.   Once and awhile I will receive a phone call asking for Mold testing.  As we do not perform Mold test, I will usually state let us inspect the home first to see what we notice first,  before spending extra money on testing.  If you can smell or visual see it, you most likely have it.  How bad is the question.  Every home has a degree of Mold in it.   We want to be equal or less to the outside air count.  As you may know, some days the outside air is higher with Mold spores then others.  The nice thing about our homes is we have the availability to control the inside air.

The simple fact is, Mold needs moisture to grow.  So, eliminating the source and keeping your home humidity levels down helps tremendously.  This will also help with other pest, such as dust mites and cockroaches.   You definitely want your home less then 60% humidity and actually more like 40%.   Mold can grow in 60%.  Ways to keep it down are running bath fans (and they should be vented directly to the exterior), Humidistat that control a HRV (heat recovery ventilator, which basically brings in fresh air) or is connected to your bath fans turning them on when humidity levels get high in the home.  Dehumidifiers in the lower levels will also help.  During colder months turn your fan motor to “on” instead of “auto” on your furnace to move the air in the home and homes built in the last 20 years or so have a fresh air intake on the furnace’s duct work that brings dry air in from outside. (similar to an HRV as mentioned before).   Suggest have ducts cleaned.  Change furnace filter regularly, and you can even install a UV light that helps kill bacteria, duct mites, and mold.  Fresh air intakes or HRV’s can help reduce moisture levels and keep interior air healthier.  All this should and can help reduce general humidity levels in your home.

The second thing to talk about is moisture in general.  This can include areas like crawl spaces, basements and attics that can accumulate moisture if not properly vented, sealed or have moisture issues.   Leaky or damp foundations is most likely the cause for Mold issues.   Keeping a basement or crawl space dry is a must.  Some simple things to do to help reduce basement moisture are making sure your grading around the home is positively pitched away from the foundation.  Downspouts are connected properly and extended away from the foundation or into a storm drain.  Cover window wells.  Suggest a running dehumidifier.  Even, carpet on concrete, can hold enough moisture for Mold to grow in the carpet fibers, because the concrete is damp, .  The dryer you can keep the lower level the better.  For issues like seepage, leakage from cracks or higher levels of dampness on floors and walls, you may need to look into installing an internal drain system the leads to a sump pit and possibly patching cracks.  Suggest consulting a foundation specialist for more information.   Issues will very from home to home depending on age, type of foundation and if there is a drain tile system installed.  Attics need good ventilation, make sure no exhaust vents are venting into attic or chase ways (like chimneys) are sealed.  You don’t want air from the home ex-filtrating into the attic.  Monitor for roof leaks, usually around penetrations.  Mold destroys the surface it grows on, in the case of being in the attic, it will break down the plywood roof sheathing or structural members if an issues is not corrected.

Lastly, if you do have a major leak from plumbing, basement or a roof leak, try to dry it out within 24-48 hrs.  I call these one time leaks, generally don’t cause any issues if dried completely and correctly.   Mold will not accumulate that fast.  However, if let go or undiscovered, Mold will have a change to accumulate and you’ll need to take more precautions and possibly have to even call in a restoration company.   If you get anything from this article, it’s to make sure Mold doesn’t have a source of moisture.  Dampness in the corner of the basemen or a small drip on a pipe can be a source.  Eliminate moisture sources and it will reduce Mold growth.

Some interesting facts:

  1. Mold is not a plant or an animal  it is classified as Kingdom: Fungi
  2. EPA does not have any standards for Mold
  3. Due to popular belief, it is not recommended to spray bleach on mold
  4. Dead Mold can be just as harmful as active Mold spores
  5. If you can visibly see Mold, there is usually no need to test, it needs evaluation and to be cleaned.  Testing is handy if you feel there is a hidden issue.
  6. In general, an area 3×3 or smaller can be cleaned or repaired by yourself, if the area is larger you should call in a professional
  7. Use your senses, if you can see or smell Mold, eliminate the source of moisture, dry and clean the area.  Remember Mold destroys the surface they live on, not taken care of can eventually cause more damage and health issues.