What to do About Mold in Your Home

What to do About Mold in Your Home, J&A South Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Why Is It So Important to Prevent Mold Growth in My Home?

Mold is your enemy! It grows fast, doesn’t need fancy accommodations, and absolutely wreaks havoc on anything it touches or even gets near to it.

Mold doesn’t care if you’re old, young, or somewhere in between. Mold isn’t concerned with where you were born, where you live, or who your family is.

Mold is the definition of an uninvited guest, and, as such, mold prevention is basic to steer clear of the train wreck mold leaves in its wake.

Whether it’s the slimy black spots on your shower curtain, the fuzzy white patches on your basement floor, or the slick orange film that forms on your kitchen drain, household mold is more than unsightly. In some cases, mold in your home can make you sick, especially if you have allergies or asthma.

Whether or not you’re allergic to molds, mold exposure can aggravate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.

That’s why we’re going to spend some time here talking about mold, its effects, and how to combat it.

So, let’s get down to it.

What exactly is mold?

Mold, a fungus type, is a decomposer of dead organic material, including leaves, wood, and plants.

Mold is an everyday word that invokes all varieties of frightening ideas in our heads. Mold arises from naturally occurring fungal spores. Those spores are all over the place, and completely eluding them isn’t doable. They float in the air you breathe every single minute of each and every day.

It’s when these spores discover a moist, warm space that they become troublesome. Is mold in the house a health problem? You bet it is!

Mold can be a worrisome problem in most homes, leading to health issues and the possible destruction of the home in which it inhabits. You may question how a mold growth widespread enough to compromise a house’s structural foundations can avoid being noticed by the building’s occupants. The answer is rather simple: the mold does its business while attached with other materials and is just about always out of sight.

Mold will start to take shape when warmth, moisture, and rotting matter work in unison. The decaying material can be almost anything. As long as there are nutrients for the mold to feed on, it will mature and spread. Rotting food will get moldy rapidly because it’s nutrient-dense and regularly laden with sugars.

Mold will be sustained on most anything, however, and it’s not restricted to organic substances. That’s why it’s essential to rid of carpeting or drywall that has undergone water damage. Areas such as these are hotbeds for mold growth.

Mold fact: There are over 100,000 known species of mold, most of which exist outside the home. Not all types of mold can make you sick, and some are even used in medicine.

How do molds get indoors, and how do they grow?

Mold can be uncovered both indoors and outdoors. It can enter a home via open doorways, windows, vents, and HVAC systems. Mold in the air outdoors can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets and then be brought indoors.

When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture, where leakage may have taken place in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where flooding has occurred, they will grow.

Any number of building materials offer the proper nutrients that foster mold growth. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are especially favorable for various molds’ growth. Other materials, including dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, generally sustain mold growth.

Mold growth can actually begin within 48 hours of water damage if the water comes into contact with organic building materials and is not noticed or properly dried.

Mold fact: While mold can’t grow on non-organic surfaces such as concrete, it may grow on those surfaces’ dust or dirt layers.

How do I know if I have a mold problem?

Oft times, you can see or smell a mold problem. Mold might occur as somewhat fuzzy, faded, or oily spots that increase in size as they grow. Generally, molds generate musty odors that are the initial indicator of a potential problem. Mold will grow almost anyplace there is sufficient moisture or a water problem. The most reliable technique to discover mold is to search for traces of mold growth, water staining, or buckling or to follow your nose to the source of the odor. It’s also essential to look both behind and beneath surfaces such as carpets, wallpaper, cabinets, and walls. Certain parts of the home are particularly prone to mold growth and should be part of normal cleaning to managing mold growth. These comprise bathrooms, chiefly shower stalls, bathroom tiles, shower curtains, window moldings, the seal on the refrigerator door, and surfaces on and nearby air conditioners.

Mold fact: Mold can also “decorate” your Christmas tree, growing under garlands and lights. All vegetation, including live Christmas trees, have mold spores on them. The warmth inside the home and moisture on the tree can trigger mold growth on its branches.

Mold reactions: Who’s at risk?

Those sensitive to mold, inhaling, or even touching mold spores can lead to allergic responses, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Persons with severe mold allergies will possibly have more serious reactions, including shortness of breath. For those who have asthma who are allergic to mold, breathing in spores can trigger asthma attacks.

Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “black mold,” produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as respiratory problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, and depression. The toxic black mold has a characteristic musty odor and appears only on surfaces that have been in prolonged contact with water.

The truth is, the consequences of mold exposure can differ significantly from one person to the next, with young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with long-lasting illnesses and weaker immune systems being the greater at risk. Recent studies have shown that one in every four persons has a genetic predisposition to mold illness – the so-called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.

Mold Fact: Mold is not necessarily bad. It plays an essential role in the ecosystem – it breaks down dead organic matter, such as dead leaves, trees, etc., and recycles it into the environment. Certain species of mold are commonly used as fermenting agents; others are engineered to make delicacy cheeses. Mold is even used in drug production – the antibiotic penicillin is a purified mold!

Did you know your homeowner’s insurance may exclude mold damage?

We know you don’t want to hear this, but the standard homeowner’s insurance policy may or may not cover mold damage, depending on the reason for the mold problem in the first place. For instance, if mold results from a covered water loss, such as the unexpected accidental release or overflow of water from the plumbing system or a household appliance, your home insurance will cover the amount of the mold remediation. That’s because the reason for the claim is the covered peril, not the mold itself.

However, Some insurance policies have exclusions, stipulating they will not cover mold removal and remediation, irrespective of the problem’s cause. Furthermore, standard insurance policies reject flood damage. They will not include water damage due to neglected home maintenance, including long-term leaky roofs, landscaping or drainage difficulties, condensation, and so forth.

Even if covered, there may be restrictions on that coverage. If you would like to boost your coverage, you can purchase a mold rider as an add-on to your existing policy.

Now, we have two questions that need to be answered:

  1. How can I help prevent mold from growing and spreading in my home?
  2. How do I rid of any such mold once it’s present?

First, how can I prevent mold from growing in my home?

It’s downright impossible to get rid of all the mold and mold spores in your home, but since mold spores are unable to grow without moisture, reducing said moisture in your home is the soundest path to preventing mold growth.

Following are some tips for reducing moisture throughout the home with specific pointers for those areas most susceptible to dampness and mold growth:

    • Make sure you have good air circulation. Keep windows open, run bathroom fans, and keep air ducts clean and in good order. Use exhaust fans that vent outside your home from the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outside. All this can assist in lowering the danger of mold growth.
    • Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas that may have a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms or basements.
    • Keep humidity levels as low as you can – between 30 and 50 percent — all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep these levels low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day, so you’ll need to check the levels more than once daily.
    • Keep your property in good repair to help avoid excess moisture. This can help expose mold growth in its initial stages and nip it in the bud before entering your home and producing mold. This would involve leaks in roofs and foundations, plumbing, and HVAC systems.
    • Inspect your property at regular intervals, particularly following major storms, torrential rains, and snow meltdowns. This can help you spot mold growth in its early phases and block it from spreading any further.
    • Add mold inhibitors to paints before application to lessen the possibility of mold growth.
    • Remove previously affected items to help stop mold spores from tainting other materials.

Bottom line: If you keep your home as moisture-free and properly vented as possible, you have every opportunity to prevent mold growth and mold-related problems.

Second, how do I get rid of the mold in my home once it’s there?

Unfortunately, mold is tough to get rid of.

Mold is frequently located in areas that pose a problem to reach and remediate. It spreads quite speedily and affects building materials and furniture pieces, fabrics, books, and other personal items. The spores mature with the porous materials, so the only way to eradicate mold is to replace the affected items.

What’s more, most DIY mold removal techniques deliver only a short-term solution to the problem. Household cleaners aren’t tough enough to remove the fungi, and paints cover up the problem. Many people use bleach to get rid of mold in their homes. The truth is that bleach kills live mold but not mold spores. What’s more, removing mold with bleach and water can make mold regrow even faster.

The one surefire way to get rid of mold permanently is to use professional mold remediation services. The qualified mold removal specialists will detect all the mold (visible, hidden, dormant) in your property, will employ cutting-edge equipment and robust cleaning agents to rid of the spores, repair any associated damage, disinfect the infested spaces, and sanitize the air. Your home will be completely mold-free, fresh, and safe.

J&A South Park does not remove mold, but we do partner with Cleanup Services, a company certified to perform disaster services, including mold removal.

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