Mold has become a health concern for many in recent years. Yet mold has always been an important part of our environment performing necessary functions in nature. So, why are we afraid of mold? How do we determine what is or is not harmful? What causes this helpful organism to pose a risk to human health? Does the potential threat posed by mold mean that do-it-yourselfers are always at the mercy of professional remediators?
The aim of this article is to answer these questions and provide some basic knowledge of mold and how it affects us. If you would like additional information please submit a request from our home page or call one of our offices.
Mold is a living organism.
Just like humans, mold has certain needs and certain preferences.
- Organic food source
- Areas with limited light
- Specific temperature range
- Areas with limited air flow
- There are many types of mold in a variety of colors. Many molds are black. Black mold is not necessarily “toxic black mold”
- “Toxic” black mold is Stachybotrys
- The CDC is a good resource for mold information
- Mold affects everyone differently based on their allergies to different spores and the gases those spores release as they grow.
- We all have mold in our homes & the potential for a mold issue
- Mold can not live on non organic materials like fiberglass, concrete, caulk, tile, cast iron, etc. It grows on the organic debris collected on these surfaces.
- All mold is cleaned/remediated the same – regardless of the type
- Do-it-yourself mold test kits are not the best way to determine mold contamination. They only register the presence of mold so you will almost always have a positive result.
- Keeping the humidity in your home below 45 -50 % is an excellent deterrent for mold growth
- All mold can be harmful if an individual has sensitivity or is allergic to the specific “type”
MOLD becomes a problem inside our living spaces when its needs are met and naturally present spores can root and colonize. Mold can develop into a serious issue if some of the preferences are met and the colony can expand. Since our homes and offices are built to limit airflow, mold has an opportunity to grow and survive inside especially if moisture/humidity is introduced into a confined area that is designed not to breathe naturally. The first step to diagnosing a serious mold problem is to have a certified mold remediator perform a visual inspection. He may then recommend an air quality test. The most common areas for mold to begin to develop are bathrooms and window sills. These occurrences are two of the least serious and easiest to handle on your own.
Most common areas of growth
- In tubs and showers, especially corners
- Around toilets, on top of the flooring
- On caulked surfaces
These areas tend to collect organic debris and stay damp. Bathrooms may also be dimly lit with little or no natural light and may not get enough air flow.
- Always use your bathroom exhaust fan when running water in the bathroom
- Completely clean all corners and crevices regularly
- Dry the tub and shower after use to remove excess moisture which increases humidity
- Increase air flow in the bathroom by leaving the door open when not in use, opening HVAC vents, or opening windows when possible
- Do not leave wet towels in the bathroomIF YOU ALREADY HAVE VISIBLE GROWTH IN THESE AREASTreat the area with a 10% bleach solution, detergent, or antimicrobial
- Fully clean the area, scrubbing corners
- Dry the area completely
- If stained, remove and replace caulking or grout
- Keep the area clean of organic debris
Mold Around Windows
In our region, due to the extreme cold temperatures, windows tend condensate. This is because of the difference in temperature on either side of the glass. In this case, the cause of moisture is not preventable. Also, more is involved than just cleaning due to the use of organic materials like drywall or wood trim. However, there are still steps you can take on your own to eliminate the growth and prevent it from returning.
- Vacuum the areas of visible growth with a HEPA vacuum
- Clean the areas with a 10% bleach solution, detergent, or an antimicrobial
- Fully dry the area
- If stained, sand the wood down to remove the stain
- Reseal or paint the area
Steps to prevent slow growth from returning
- Keep the windows and the area around the windows dry. This may mean toweling off the condensation.
- Raise the blinds and drapes so air can circulate around and behind the blinds.
- Keep the window blinds, sills, trim, and glass clean from dust, pet hair, etc.
When do I call the PROs?
Unfortunately, mold issues progress quickly. Once mold appears on your drywall, wallpaper, baseboards, cabinets, or in your crawl space it has become a significant problem. In order to limit contamination and reduce cost it is best to call a professional quickly. Many insurance companies are limiting or eliminating mold coverage, so calling a professional quickly can literally save your home. If you have a mold issue, that is more involved than the do-it-yourself issues outlined, please call Blue Sky Services & Restoration for an evaluation.