Winning the War Against Mold

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Mold is a necessary part of life that serves many useful purposes. Where it is not useful, however, is inside your home. When mold is able to get a foothold in your home and goes on to grow uninhibited, you can wind up with quite a large problem on your hands and with your respiratory system. Inhaling mold can mimic allergy symptoms or it can be severe enough to cause difficulty breathing or even asthma attacks. Depending on the type of mold spores you inhale, such as black or white mold, you could even be faced with chronic bronchitis, heart problems, and even bleeding lungs. With this in mind, eliminating mold that is already growing and preventing future mold growth should hold a high spot on your to-do list.

Since mold thrives on organic matter, it is typically found in moist environments. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, pipes, ductwork, around windows, basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Since some of these places are not the most accessible, getting professional help may be required. You may also need a processional if you have an area of mold larger than about ten square feet. Do keep in mind when enlisting professional services that you should find someone experienced who has references and guarantees their work.

If you opt to do mold cleanup yourself, your first step is to properly outfit yourself for the job. This includes donning rubber gloves that extend up your forearm, an N-95 respirator mask, and goggles for eye protection. Once you have your PPE (personal protective equipment), it is time to get cleaning supplies such as a warm water, detergent, and bleach. If the mold growth is not severe, scrubbing with warm water and detergent will likely be enough to remove it. In the event that the growth is severe, you will need to step up your cleaning efforts to include a mixture of one cup bleach to a gallon of water. Should you have moldy carpet, tear it up and throw it away; removing carpet mold is a difficult if not impossible task. When your scrubbing efforts are complete, there should be no visible mold remaining. The smell of mold should be gone as well. At this point, the area needs to dry thoroughly as remaining moisture will encourage the return of mold. It is also necessary to allow the area to dry completely before attempting to paint or make other improvements.

To keep mold from returning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This means monitoring your home for environments in which mold can thrive. To keep mold at bay, keep an eye out for leaks in walls, plumbing, basements, foundations, air conditioner drains, and roofs as well as blocked gutters or leaks that may be present under your home. Also important areas to check are where condensation occurs, such as on windows and ductwork. A good way to control this is by adjusting the humidity in your home via dehumidifier and by using bathroom vent fans or occasionally opening windows. Using a high quality air filter and changing it regularly will also help trap mold particles, keeping them from finding a place to live and grow.

If you've taken steps to rid your home of mold but you and your family are still experiencing health issues and smelling mold, chances are you have a problem with hidden mold growth. This could be occurring in heat/air conditioning vents, under wall paper, between sheets of drywall, and even in ceiling tiles. Hidden mold will require the assistance of a professional, especially if it is located in your HVAC system, which you should try to avoid running until the mold has been removed.

Mold may be a part of life with which we must live, but by no means should mold run our lives. By keeping up with prevention, you can normally keep mold in check. If things escalate to a point where mold is out of your sight and thus out of your hands, relying on a professional may be necessary. Either way, mold will be sent packing from your home while you and your family will be healthy and happy once more.

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