How To Combat & Prevent Mold

Green Architect

Whether you see it or not, mold is present in and on almost every surface, but too much mold can not only be a nuisance but also unhealthy. Moisture is the primary issue, and prevention is key, so at some point knowing how to eliminate it will come in handy — click below the jump to find out more.

Mold is always present and generally tolerable indoors, but once it finds moisture it will grow and eat away at whatever surface it's growing on. Mold growth can damage any surfaces and furnishings in your home, diminish a building's structural integrity, and can adversely affect the health of your family members, so it is very important to keep it in check!

Prevention

  • Always Fix Leaks Immediately: Any broken plumbing, leaky faucets or leaks in your building shell should be fixed as soon as possible.
  • Increase Ventilation: Use exhaust fans (or windows) in bathrooms and kitchens, and ensure your clothes dryer is exhausting moisture to the outside — recirculating fans only help move air but do not get rid of moisture.
  • Slope Grade Away from House: Also make sure all downspouts and landscaping are draining away from the house to prevent water infiltration.
  • Use Dehumidifiers Keep humidity in check in moist rooms and in high humidity environments. Indoor humidity levels should ideally stay between 30 - 50%.
  • Provide Fresh Air: For tightly constructed homes it is necessary provide a regular amount of fresh air, this can be done through your furnace with an air cycler or even better an energy/heat recovery ventilator.
  • Use a Vapor Barrier: Depending on how your house was constructed use a vapor barrier with concrete slabs and/or put a plastic cover over dirt in crawl spaces and provide adequate ventilation.

Remediation
Always dry any wet items as soon as possible to prevent mold, and use a respirator, goggles and gloves when handling mold:

  • Hard, Non-porous Surfaces: Wipe or vacuum up water, scrub clean with a mild detergent and allow to dry. Don't use bleach!
  • Porous Surfaces: Attempt water removal with a water extraction vacuum and expedite drying time with fans, heaters and dehumidifiers. Carpet, rugs, drywall, ceiling tiles and so forth should all be removed and discarded. Upholstered items maybe be salvageable with replacement of fabric and filling. However, most water damaged porous surfaces will not be salvageable and should be discarded in a sealed bag to prevent the spread of mold.

If your house has been damaged by flooding you should contact a professional immediately for proper repair and assessment for more significant structural damage. Additionally, for health and safety, contact a professional if the mold issue is persistent, and unresponsive to the items outlined above.

For more information, visit the EPA's website.

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(Image: Anne's Sunny Renovation Green Tour)

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