Mold Removal And Common Causes Of Mold Growth
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person spends about 90 percent of their time indoors. Because of this, the quality of the air that they breathe while inside is important. Unfortunately, mold has a nasty habit of damaging air quality and causing people to experience health problems. Over time, it releases spores into the internal environment, which can worsen asthma and cause allergies. Not good.
The internet is full of advice and articles on how to remove “black mold” from the home. But the truth is that black mold is just one kind of fungal species that causes health problems. The color of mold says little about whether it’s dangerous or not. And with more than 100,000 species of mold identified in the scientific literature so far, it’s not possible for the average person to judge if they are living with a health hazard.
The solution to avoiding health problems and increasing the quality of the air inside a building is to remove it as soon as it shows up and eliminate the source of the problem. Mold is a type of fungus, and like other organisms, it needs a supply of food and water to survive. Remove the water, and you remove the mold.
It’s worth noting that mold isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has evolved to consume specific food sources that other organisms cannot, meaning that it’s hugely beneficial for processing rotting vegetation and so on. But because of its evolutionary advantages, mold can also grow in places that practically nothing else can, including your drywall.
How Bad Is Mold For Your Health?
Currently, research suggests that between 50 and 60 percent of homes contain mold. That might sound like a devastating statistic, but remember that not all species of mold cause “across the board” health problems and that in many homes, the quantity of mold is negligible. Mold spores are in every breath you take and present naturally in the atmosphere.
The media likes to sensationalize mold, claiming that it leads to severe disease and even death. But the scientific community is in general agreement that mold isn’t something that people generally want in their environment.
People respond to mold differently. Some people can have no problems whatsoever of living in rooms with severe mold… Others can suffer from a heightened risk of allergies and asthma attacks, which could be severe. The elderly and children may be most at risk of developing lung and throat-related conditions, as well as those with autoimmune disorders.
Tips For Mold Removal
Okay, so we know that mold takes many different forms and that it’s probably harmful, at least to a significant subset of the population. So how do you get rid of it? Check out these mold tips.
Remove First, Ask Questions Later
You might be tempted to test mold first to see whether it’s a dangerous variety and then remove it later but, in general, that’s a bad policy. You want mold out of your environment as fast as possible to protect your health and the integrity of your home/ business premises.
Focus Your Efforts On The Areas Exposed To Water
Before removing mold, it’s worth figuring out the source of the water. Water could be getting into your home for the following reasons:
- Your guttering is overflowing during storms, leading to water pouring down the exterior walls of your home
- You’ve got a leak in your roof, allowing water to trickle down into the interior of your walls
- You’ve got a problem with your foundations, and water is working its way up from the ground
- You’ve got a hidden drainage issue
- Your windows aren’t keeping water out during storms
- There’s a leaking or burst pipe behind your wall
There are, of course, many ways in which water could get into your home. If you don’t eliminate the water source, then the mold will likely return, even after removal.
Wear Safety Gear
If you decide to remove mold yourself, it’s a good policy to wear safety gear. As you remove mold, it’ll naturally release millions of spores into the surrounding air – spores that you don’t want to breathe in. You’ll want to wear a filtration mask that can prevent spores from getting into your lungs, as well as high-quality neoprene or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from mold and cleaning agents.
If you plan on using industrial chemicals or have a large area of mold to remove, then you’ll want to wear a full-body protection suit.
Put Down Protective Sheeting
Mold has an uncanny ability to transfer from one location to another. You might think that removal is a bad thing for mold, but it could be an opportunity for it to get into other parts of your home, especially the surrounding floor if you’re removing it from drywall.
Professional mold experts put down plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting collects mold spores and other debris, stopping it from getting into your carpets and floorboards.
Clean Out Your HVAC System After Cleaning Up Mold
The ducts and vents in your HVAC system can harbor mold and mold spores. Once you’ve cleaned up the primary source of mold, it’s a good idea to give your ducts a thorough clean too, just in case it reseeds the mold later on.
Clean Air In The Space During And After Removal
Putting down sheeting will help to prevent mold spores from entering the floor below the site of removal. However, there is no way of stopping mold spores from entering the atmosphere of your room: they’re just too small, and there are too many of them. The solution is to run an air scrubber in the affected area, continually filtering the air, thus removing the airborne debris and lowering the spore count.
Professionals often use a “negative air” system – a system that uses HEPA filters to clean air in the affected room, while keeping the area under negative pressure. If you have a severe mold problem which takes up more than a square foot, then consider adding some sort of Air Filtration Device to create enhanced airflow, or get a professional to remove the mold for you.
Repair Your Sump Pump
Sump pump failure is one of the most common reasons for mold growth in the basement. A failed pump can lead to severe flooding, which, in turn, provides an opportunity for mold to become established.
If your sump pump is looking old and a little past its use-by date, consider having it replaced. A new sump pump or battery usually costs substantially less than calling out a professional mold removal service and getting them to clean up your basement after a flood. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If your sump pump does fail and you experience flooding, you’ve got about 48 hours to get rid of the water before mold starts to set in. You may have to lift carpets and cut holes in your drywall to prevent mold growth if there’s no way of drying it out in time.
Check Your Home’s Foundations
Over time the soil under your home can move and cause settlement damage. In a worst-case scenario, your foundation can crack, allowing moisture into your basement from the surrounding ground. If you’re lucky, the mold growth is confined to the area immediately around the crack.
First, you’ll need to remove the mold and then, once that’s done, fill the crack with appropriate material and dry the area. If the area remains dry, then the mold is can not come back.
Open Windows In Your Basement
If your basement has windows, then make sure that you open them from time to time. Extra air circulation will whip mold spores out of the interior and help to prevent the conditions which make a mold buildup more likely.
Check That Your Gutters Are Discharging Into Your Drains
If you have a recurring mold problem in the main walls of your home, then your guttering is one of the most likely culprits. The job of guttering is to transport water away from your walls and foundations, preventing it from penetrating the masonry. Adequately functioning guttering is, therefore, essential.
Your first task is to ensure that your gutters are discharging into drains during a storm. The drain should not be blocked by leaves or debris and should allow the water to flow into the main sewage system with ease. Drains should not overflow during rain as this negates the effectiveness of your guttering.
If you don’t have drains around your property, then you should make sure that water can discharge six feet away from your home down a slope that runs away from your brickwork. You can use gutter extenders to achieve this.
Check Your Guttering Isn’t Blocked
Gutters have a nasty habit of becoming clogged with debris from surrounding trees meaning that when there is a storm, the guttering overflows and water collects at the bottom of the walls surrounding your home – not what you want.
If you have a recurring mold problem, eliminate clogged guttering as a possible source by clearing out any debris and ensuring that there’s no overflow. If your guttering isn’t clogged and still overflows during storms, then you may need to upgrade to a higher capacity product.
Discard Attic Insulation If You Have A Mold Problem In Your Attic
Mold problems are often worst in attics. Out of sight, out of mind. But dealing with a moldy attic is crucial if you want to maintain the value of your home and ensure that you continue to live in a healthy environment.
You can follow the same cleaning tips above to get rid of a mold problem in your attic. But you’ll probably also have to remove your attic insulation too and get it replaced, especially if you had damp and mold for a long time. Mold can live in the small voids within attic insulation products, making it a nightmare to remove.
Ensure That Plumbing Vents, Vent Outside of Your Home
Extraction fan vents, plumbing vents, and clothes dryer vents should all flow to the outside your home. When they don’t, they lead to the buildup of damp and condensation which, in turn, can attract mold.
Reduce Humidity Levels
So far, we’ve discussed problems with your home that can lead to the buildup of mold. But mold growth isn’t just something that occurs when you have an open leak or a steam-filled exhaust creating condensation: mold can also arise when humidity levels rise to persistently high levels.
The reason so many homes have mold in the bathroom is that humidity levels can remain above the threshold 60 percent, providing ideal growing conditions. If there’s no leak in your bathroom (or any other room), but you notice that mold keeps coming back, it could be due to high humidity levels. The solution is to use an extractor fan or, if that’s not possible, a dehumidifier in the affected space.
Keep Wood And Drywall Dry
You’d hope that with a name like “drywall” that it would remain dry. Unfortunately, because drywall is made of a combination of gypsum and paper, it’s very good at absorbing moisture. Mold loves drywall because it retains water and contains paper – a great source of energy. Keeping your drywall dry is, therefore, a priority.
Wood, like drywall, is also an excellent habitat for mold. It can extract energy from organic matter within the wood, fuelling growth.
Check Window Caulking
Mold can get into your homes through the windows, especially if you have inadequate or insufficient caulking. Caulking acts as a barrier around the window frame, keeping rain and moisture out. When it becomes cracked or chipped, it provides an opportunity for water to get in and for mold to grow.
A Final Remark
Mold might seem like an intractable problem. The way to prevent it is to have excellent ventilation and ensure that excessive water/moisture cannot enter your home through the attic, foundations, or drywall.