Rain, rain go away! Despite the skies clearing and the sun shining as I write these words, rain AGAIN is in the forecast for north Georgia and metro Atlanta. When have we been out of a Flood Watch or Flood Warning this year?
That makes it all the more important to protect your house from mold. One of the questions clients ask home inspectors is does the house I want to buy contain mold? Unfortunately, the answer most often is yes.
Champia Real Estate Inspections can provide mold testing for your home or the dream home you want to buy to safeguard you and your family. For Atlanta mold inspections, our certified home inspectors take samples and send them off to a professional laboratory for testing.
Let’s talk about what mold is and how to deal with it in your home.
Moisture Key Ingredient in Mold Growth
If we weren’t hearing so much about the latest virus going around, we’d probably be hearing about the dangers of mold with all the moisture in the air and in the ground – and in too many of our homes!
While we don’t like them in our home, molds are part of the environment. They help break down dead organic matter, a vital function in nature.
Molds reproduce through microscopic spores. These float through the air and take root once they land on a suitable environment. What’s suitable? Almost anywhere there’s moisture. Most molds won’t grow without it. Inside the home or other buildings, leaks get the blame for moisture being present. Home inspectors – and homeowners – find these leaks in roofs, plumbing or basement walls.
The CDC says mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
What’s the Harm in Mold?
Mold can cause health problems in people who are sensitive or allergic to it. It is also possible that mold may produce some toxic substances.
For people who are sensitive to molds, exposure often leads to stuffy noses, wheezing and itch or red eyes and skin. People with mold allergies or asthma may experience more intense reactions that may include fever and shortness of breath.
According to the Institute of Medicine, enough evidence exists to link indoor mold exposure with upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy people or those with asthma.
Sometimes Mold Lurks Out of Your Sight
While you can usually smell and see evidence of mold, sometimes it may be hidden. That requires testing the air by a qualified expert for elevated spore counts. Mold is often visible on some finished surfaces. If you experience hay fever-like symptoms, or if your asthma symptoms appear more often than normal, it may be time to test your house.
Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth (e.g., water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) to prevent mold growth.
How Can You Control Mold Growth in the Home?
The CDC offers plenty of advice on controlling mold growth, including:
- Control humidity levels;
- Promptly fix leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
- Thoroughly clean and dry the home in the event of flooding;
- Ventilate shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
By keeping the humidity level as low as possible – between 30 and 50 percent all day long – you’ll help prevent mold growth. That’s a tall order in the humidity of Georgia, but most of us have air conditioners and can supplement them with a dehumidifier.
Keep humidity levels as low as you can—between 30% and 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
Exhaust fans do more good than keeping your bathroom mirror fog free, helping your clothes dry faster and getting rid of the smells in the kitchen. They help remove moisture from the air, reducing the chance of mold growth. Make sure those bathroom, dryer and kitchen vents send the air outside the home.
Quickly fix leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing. And think twice before using carpet in bathrooms or basements that already have a lot of moisture.
How to Get Rid of Mold
Once you’ve eliminated the obvious sources of moisture such as a roof leak, getting your foundation or basement walls professionally waterproofed or a leaky pipe fixed, you can start cleaning up. But if you don’t remove these moisture sources, you’ll just see the mold come back.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that a non-professional can clean areas of 10 square feet or less. That’s about the size of a shower or a door. Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Porous surfaces such as your paneling or drywall may need to be ripped out and replaced. Carpeting – and the padding underneath it – that’s subjected to flooding often must be removed from the home and trashed. Only after cleaning and drying the flooring should replacement carpeting be installed.
Is the affected area larger than 10 square feet? Then it’s time to get a professional.
The CDC says you can remove mold growth from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) of bleach in 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces. But don’t mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. That produces dangerous, toxic fumes.
Open windows and doors to property ventilate the home. Use protective eye wear and non-porous gloves.
For more information about mold cleanup and remediation in your home, check out the EPA’s website.
Unless you have a very small area to clean, we strongly suggest you contract with a professional mold remediation service. In the event of a sudden flood, such as from a water heater leak or bust, a sudden pipe burst or damage to a roof that causes a leak, get on the phone and call a remediation service immediately. They can come to your home a short time after the emergency begins to help reduce the damages and remove the water before the damage gets even worse.
And when you schedule a home inspection with Champia, be sure to ask about our 90-Day Mold Warranty to safeguard against hidden problems.