Mold and Mildew
Mold can be found everywhere on the planet, indoors and outdoors and anywhere there is moisture. Mildew is a type of mold that loves moisture and lives and feeds on wet surfaces. On building siding and other surfaces, it can look like a layer of dirt. Mold occurs naturally in the environment, and it is necessary for the natural decomposition of plant and other organic material. It spreads by means of airborne microscopic spores and is found everywhere. It is impossible for even high quality residential construction to exclude all mold spores from the home environment. The problem with mold is it can consume and destroy organic material in the home and cause respiratory and other health problems for people who are sensitive to it. In order to grow, mold spores require a food source, proper temperatures and moisture. If the growing conditions are right, mold will grow in your home. Your home has many food sources for mold including fabric, carpet, wallpaper, or by building materials, such as drywall, wood and insulation. Mold growth also requires temperatures between 40 degrees F, and 100 degrees F which is the range of temperatures found in your home. Finally, mold requires moisture. Moisture is the only mold growth factor that can be controlled in your home and by minimizing moisture, a homeowner can eliminate mold growth. The problem with moisture is that many sources are not obvious including leaks, overflows, condensation and high humidity. Good construction, housekeeping and maintenance practices are essential in the effort to prevent reduce moisture levels and eliminate the possibility of mold growth. If moisture is allowed to remain in any area of the home with food sources and proper temperatures, mold can develop within 48 hours.
- Track down musty odors and remove any visible signs of mold or mildew.
- Before bringing items into the home, check for signs of mold. Potted plants (roots and soil), furnishings, or stored clothing and bedding materials, as well as many other household goods, could already contain mold growth.
- Keep the humidity in the home at the lowest comfortable levels. Make sure clothes dryer vents and ducts are working properly and not obstructed with lint.
- Ventilate kitchens and bathrooms by opening windows, using exhaust fans, or by running air conditioning to remove excess moisture from the air, and to facilitate evaporation of water from wet surfaces.
- Promptly clean up spills, condensation and other sources of moisture.
- Thoroughly dry any wet surfaces or materials. Do not let water pool or stand in your home.
- Promptly remove and replace any materials that cannot be thoroughly dried, such as drywall, insulation or fabrics.
- Should mold develop, thoroughly clean the affected area with a mild solution of bleach. First test to see if the affected materials or surface is color safe. Porous materials, such as fabric, upholstery or carpet should be discarded. Should mold growth be sever, call on the services of a qualified professional cleaner.
Common Problems and Troubleshootingo
- Dark spots and/or musty odors indicate that mold and mildew is present.
- Call a licensed healthy building science/mold expert to test, identify and to prescribe a remediation program for the type(s) of mold present.
- Select a reputable and licensed remediation contractor to execute the program prescribed.
- Have the work inspected and verified by the original health home program prescriber.
- 1x per week: Practice good housekeeping that removes mildew. Regular vacuuming and cleaning will help reduce mold levels. Mild bleach solutions and most tile cleaners are effective in eliminating or preventing mold growth. Solutions are available from local paint or home improvement stores. Wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves for this task. Follow the manufacturers warnings and directions, the chemicals that remove mildew are also unhealthy to humans.
- 1x per week: Inspect for leaks on a continual basis. Look for any drywall discolorations or wet spots and especially around or under sinks, toilets, tubs, washers and showers. Repair any leaks promptly.
- 2x per year: Inspect condensation pans (refrigerators and air conditioners) for mold growth.