Get Ahead of and Stay on Top of Mold
Mold is one of those things we know is bad and though we may know we want to avoid it, and deal with it in our homes, very few of us truly know how invasive it can be and how best to get it out. Or we may assume that because we can’t see it, our homes are mold-free. Let’s take a look at some of the most basic questions – what, why, where and how – of dealing with this invisible threat.
What is Mold?
Essentially mold is a fungus that can be found both indoors and outside. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates species of fungi can range from the tens of thousands to three hundred thousand or more. Mold can be useful as it helps decompose dead organic material but when these spores are air born, or trapped inside the confined spaces of a home, can cause problems. And while sometimes mold does make itself known, through discoloration of tiles or wood, it can also be completely invisible, and certainly is when it’s in the air we breathe. Mold is linked to all kinds of respiratory conditions and can complicate existing health issues.
Unfortunately, mold has the potential to be everywhere, kind of like that annoying relative at a family function who seems to pop up every time you turn around. Some simple general tips, and tips for specific conditions in your home though, can help you keep your home mold-free.
- In general, a clean home is a healthy home so regularly vacuum, dust and mop to ensure surfaces, and the air, is clean. A good air purifier is a great way to ensure better indoor air quality for the whole house, or in rooms where there are specific concerns.
- Keeping room and closet doors ajar will encourage air flow, even into small spaces. Opening blinds and curtains to let light in can also help a room breathe.
- Regularly empty your dehumidifier to avoid standing water and avoid excessive indoor plants and over-watering plants as this can also lead to standing water.
- Wipe down spills whenever they occur and take time to wipe down any moisture build-ups, including that morning accumulation on the windows.
- You should also check for evidence of leaks – in ceilings and from the roof – to ensure moisture isn’t getting into walls or other parts of your home’s structure.
In the Kitchen and Laundry Area
To prevent moisture from sitting, it is important to check for leaks under sinks and around appliances that use or contain water such as washing machines and water heaters. Use hood vents when cooking to remove excess moisture from steam, as well as when you’re washing dishes. While air drying dishes may save time, it also allows that moisture to evaporate into the air so spending a few minutes drying is a good idea.
Remove any moldy or rotting food before it has a chance to grow and spread. This includes taking garbage out of the house regularly and emptying that compost bin.
Your Home’s Fans are there for a Reason
Use exhaust fans when showing and bathing – there’s standing moisture and steam from a bath as well – and leave the fans running long enough to clear the mirror and restore the room’s temperature to normal. The use of ceiling fans throughout the house is also a good way help air circulate better and can help avoid moisture build-up.
In the Bathroom
Besides using fans, there are some other things you should consider in the bathroom. Try to contain steam and water within the tub by securing the shower door or tucking the shower curtain inside. Wipe down the walls and fixtures before you leave to help them dry faster. Leave the curtains or door open after to help the fan dry the area further. Wipe down other surfaces if required and avoid leaving wet towels sitting about.
Air Conditioning Units
Have your air conditioner checked and cleaned at least annually. Ensure the evaporator coil is cleaned. Ensure your air handler is working properly by checking the vents within the home to be sure they are clean and change your filter regularly. If your unit contains a drip pan, add a small amount of bleach to decrease the potential for mold growth.
If you work diligently, you can keep your home clean and relatively moisture and mold-free. Where you find problems though that you can’t tackle, a little professional advice can go a long way towards ensuring things don’t get out of control.
Erez Gilad is the owner of 911 Remediation and is a virtuoso in mold removal techniques. With years of experience in the field, Mr. Gilad seeks to share his vast expertise in mold disposal and cleanup.