It’s the furry little fiend that starts to sprout in the corners of your home; the musty menace that hides in the damp and dark.
Yep, we’re talking about mold.
Often hard to spot, mold grows in warm, humid places like the crevices of your basement, kitchen, bathroom and any other areas in constant contact with moisture.
Left unnoticed, mold can grow as fast as 24 – 48 hours.
The best way to control the mold in your home is by learning what it is, what causes its growth and how you can prevent it.
Mold-hard Facts: What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus that sprouts from tiny spores that float around in the air and enter your home through windows, doors, air conditioning and heating systems, and even on your pet.
It exists in almost every environment, indoors and outdoors, but prefers damp environments such as:
- Bathrooms with insufficient ventilation
- Areas where there are leaks
- Clothes dryers and exhaust fans that vent under or back into the house
- Any area that has been flooded
- Constantly humid rooms
An easy indicator for mold is its physical appearance, usually similar to a stain that comes in a variety of colors and a fuzzy texture with a strong, musty smell.
Mold release spores into the air; particles that many people are allergic to. These spores are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and could cause respiratory problems.
The most common cause of mold is home flooding. If a flood recently affected your home, the key is a quick cleanup. To learn how to prevent flooding, as well as cleaning any damage in the aftermath, see our article on handling home flooding.
One way to indicate the possible existence of mold in your home is by these common mold allergy symptoms:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough and postnasal drip
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dry, scaly skin
However, different people have different reactions to mold, varying from mild to severe, appearing year-round or in flares.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be able to attribute your reactions to a high concentration of mold in your home. Note that there are many types of molds, but only a few cause allergies – those include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.
Even worse is what’s commonly known as “black mold” or “toxic mold.”
Toxic mold releases hazardous byproducts called mycotoxins. It grows on materials that are moist and cellulose, like wood or drywall, carpet, insulation and subflooring.
If inhaled, the spores of black mold can cause health effects like:
- Chronic coughing and sneezing
- Irritation to the eyes
- Excess mucus in the nose and throat
- Fatigue and headaches
Mold can cause a plethora of health issues ranging from mild and irritating to severe and dangerous. If you discover the presence of mold in your home, the key is to act immediately to avoid severe health complications.
Home Remedies to Clean Mold
First and foremost – do not use ammonia. If mixed with bleach, it will create a toxic gas.
There are a few nontoxic ways you can clean the mold in your home, using products you might already have stored in your cupboard.
A simple water and detergent solution will help clean a small area.
Pour equal parts water and detergent in a spray bottle. Apply the solution to the effected area and let dry. Next, pour a half-cup of bleach diluted in a gallon of water. Apply the solution to the effected area and let dry to kill whatever spores remain.
You could also try using white vinegar.
Pour white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray directly on the moldy surface and let sit for an hour. Wipe any remaining residue with a sponge or towel soaked in water.
Baking soda, with its gritty texture, is another good method to remove mold.
Add one-quarter tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water and shake until dissolved. Next, spray the moldy area with the solution then use a sponge or scrub brush to remove the entire residue. Lastly, spray the area again and let dry.
If mold is found on tile or glass (or any nonporous surface), these tips and tricks will work for easy removal.
However, if the mold is growing on wood, drywall or any porous surface, you might want to consider consulting a professional remediation company that handles mold.
Mold Remediation (And How it’s Different than Mold Removal)
A common misconception is that mold can be “removed” from a home. While most professional services offer mold removal, it’s important to understand that spores (the cause of mold) will always exist, as they are found in the air outdoors as well as indoors.
However, mold, in the form of fungus, will only exist if the airborne spores land and latch on moist areas in your home. Therefore, the first step of remediation will entail finding the places in your home where excess moisture can cause potential mold.
After locating the cause of excess moisture and hidden water sources in your home, be sure to contain the mold to prevent further contamination of your home.
Depending on the amount of mold in your home, you might need to remove any mold-infested or porous materials like drywall, carpet, insulation and subflooring. You may also need to have your furniture, curtains, clothing and any other affected items cleaned during the remediation.
Based on which materials need to be removed in your home, the restoration process may entail replacing drywall or installing new carpet.
When it comes to mold remediation, don’t take any chances. Consult a professional company that specializes in the remediation process to make sure all excess moisture can be located in your home. It’s important to address this issue early to prevent any further mold growth in the future.
How to Prevent Mold in Your Home
In addition to securing the location(s) of excess moisture in your home, you can discourage mold growth by:
- Using a dehumidifier in damp rooms
- Avoid using carpet in damp rooms
- Make sure all bathrooms and laundry rooms are properly ventilated
- Insulate pipes and install storm windows to prevent condensation
Early prevention is key. If you have problems with mold, taking care of them as soon as possible can save you money and headaches in the long run, especially if you’re someone who is allergic.
How Mold Affects the Home Buying Process
Every home is bound to have mold. However, the excessive presence of mold in a home can negatively affect the home buying process due to its tendency of structural compromise and possible health risks.
Therefore, whether buying or selling a home, be aware that mold can make or break a home purchase.
The best way to handle mold in the home buying process is having a mold inspection performed on the home before purchase or sale. Mold inspections are critical during the home buying process because, frankly, no one wants to buy a house with a mold problem.
Why Inspection Matters for Home Buyers
A mold inspection entails a qualified mold inspector locating any past or current mold growth in a building or home. This can involve a questionnaire about the building history, a visual inspection and mold testing. Mold testing can generally cost between $300 – $500.
Don’t get this process confused with mold remediation. A mold inspection is simply to identify the presence of mold, not the removal of any existing mold.
Be sure the seller discloses any mold or water-related issues of the home. In most states, disclosure is required, but you always have the right to ask questions about any potential problems that could arise.
Additionally, your appraiser will notify you of any obvious signs of mold, especially if it could affect the value of the property.
Whether you’re a home buyer or seller, be diligent during the process of mold inspection.
Be on the lookout for some warning signs:
- Standing water
- Water marks on the walls
- Musty smells
Fungus Among Us
Mold can be an expensive and devastating factor in a home. With winter coming to an end, be sure to start inspecting your home for signs of winter damage, as attic condensation can result in wood rot and mold.
How do you combat the malicious mold found in your home? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to the Zing blog for more home topics.
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