How often do you spend time in your attic? Perhaps once a year to retrieve Christmas decorations? If you are like most homeowners, you probably don’t visit this non-living space very often. Because of that, attics are often left out of regular home inspections and maintenance. The bad news is that attic mold (along with a multitude of other issues) can easily be overlooked. It is important that you take the time to periodically visit your attic space and give it a thorough once over. Mold attic can quickly become dangerous because it often goes unnoticed until it begins to penetrate the rest of your house. By the time that happens, there is likely quite a bit of mold and may already be affecting the health of your family.
How Does Attic Mold Get There?
Just because you don’t frequent your attic doesn’t mean that it isn’t susceptible to attic mold. In some ways, this makes the space more susceptible. Mold starts the same way no matter where it grows. If the conditions are right (moisture/humidity levels), mold begins to grow. There are many different ways that moisture and humidity can get out of control in your attic. Here are a few examples.
Roofs leak. Whether your roof is aging, you have a build up of debris or it has been damaged by hail or a tree limb, once a roof leak begins moisture will enter your home each and every time it rains. The rainwater will penetrate the roof and cause a build-up of moisture that will sit for several days. Conditions become right for attic mold to begin to grow. You should always inspect your roof after large storms and keep tree limbs cut back to prevent damage and debris build up. If your roof has reached the age where it needs to be replaced, begin to budget for the replacement sooner rather than later. The sooner you can repair a roof leak, the less likely you will end up with attic mold.
Improper ventilation is a common cause of attic mold, especially in the winter months when we run our heaters a lot. Because heat rises, our attics are often warm. If that warm is not properly ventilated, however, it begins a process that begs attic mold to form and grow. The warm air becomes trapped in the attic space and condensation begins causing moisture in your attic. Humidity levels rise and mold begins to grow. Homeowners should inspect their attic spaces to ensure proper ventilation exists so that humidity levels stay low during the winter months.
Moisture Vents Pump to the Attic
All over our homes, we have moisture vents. Our kitchens have them. Our bathrooms have them. Our laundry rooms probably have them. All of these vents should pump to the outside of the house rather than to the attic. However, many homes still have vents that are improperly installed to pump to the attic. If your vents pump to the attic, they will drive up moisture and humidity levels making attic mold a real possibility in your home.
What to do if Attic Mold is Present
If you have recently made your annual trip to the attic and have discovered mold, you need to take action right away. Depending on how much mold is present and how much damage has been caused, your actions may vary a bit. But the process of mold remediation and removal must begin right away to prevent further damage and further growth.
Determine the Moisture Source
You must determine what caused the moisture build up. Otherwise, removing the mold will only be a temporary solution. The moisture will continue, and the mold will regrow fairly quickly. You will waste your time, energy and money if you do not find the source of the moisture. Finding the source of moisture that caused your attic mold will also help you assess how much mold you have in your attic (which may help you determine the best next step).
DIY Mold Removal vs Professional Mold Remediation
You must assess the situation and decide the proper steps. Will you hire a professional mold remediation company or will you attempt to remove the mold yourself? Attic mold is a serious condition just as it would be if you had found it anywhere else in your home. Mold removal can be tricky so do your research and decide the best solution for your home and the attic mold that is present.
No matter how you choose to deal with the attic mold in your home, you must also determine how to prevent its reoccurrence in the future. How will you prevent moisture buildup? How will you inspect your roof for leaks going forward? How will you perform inspections and walkthroughs to check for attic mold in the future? As part of the mold remediation and recovery process, you must focus on having a prevention mindset. Come up with a plan that will protect you and your family from dangerous mold situations.
Hindsight is always 20-20, and that theory applies to everything – including attic mold. Prevention is always the easiest way to handle situations in your home, but sometimes we overlook the proper prevention activities. That is just human nature. If attic mold is present in your home, you simply need to take the proper steps. Start with a thorough inspection of your attic. Check for mold. Check for ventilation. Check for roof damage. Hire a mold remediation company or remedy the mold yourself if you determine you can handle it. Come up with an inspection plan going forward.
As homeowners, it is important to take responsibility for the maintenance of our homes. Even though we know that as a fact, sometimes we forget the smaller things such as our attics.
So, when is the last time you visited your attic and looked for attic mold? Is it time to reassess the sources of moisture in your home? Is it time to replace your roof?