Mold is a fungus that lives both inside and outside, and thrives best in moist areas. It reproduces by sending spores through the air that make their way to other areas. Mold is typically harmless, and for the most part, people are exposed to it every day.
Sometimes, though, mold can create a problem. This is especially true when it begins growing in your home. When surfaces are moist enough, mold spores can land on them and begin to thrive. Areas of the house that are more susceptible to mold growth include windows or pipes, damp areas such as bathrooms, and areas that have experienced flooding or leaks. It can also grow in paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
Having a little bit of mold in the home isn’t likely to cause an issue. But if it continues to grow, it can eat away at the walls, ceiling, and floorboards – and may also lead to illness.
What health problems are caused by mold?
Although some people may not feel the effects of mold, others may suffer from adverse health effects if they have a sensitivity to the fungus. It can cause symptoms such as a stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes and skin. Those with asthma or allergies to mold are more susceptible to these effects, and may suffer worsened reactions such as fever or shortness of breath.
How mold affects someone will depend entirely on their level of health. For example, healthy people may experience mild respiratory tract symptoms such as coughing or wheezing, whereas others may experience conditions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Mold has also been linked to the development of asthma in children who were overexposed in their early lives. It can also affect the immune system.
Can I remove mold from my house myself?
It is possible to remove mold from your house, but it can be a lengthy and difficult process. The first thing you will have to do to remove the mold is identify which type it is. Black mold, for example, is easily identifiable because of its visual characteristics, but it can be mistaken for mildew. They are small black spots that, if left alone, will grow into large colonies. To identify mold, a bleach test can be done by putting a few drops of household bleach onto the mold. If it goes away when using the bleach, it is mildew; if it doesn’t, it is more likely to be mold.
Once you’ve identified the mold, you will have to acquire the proper protective gear. Try to wear old clothes you can toss out afterwards and use a N95 mask that can protect you from inhaling mold spores. Goggles should also be worn to protect your eyes. Since mold spores spread through the air, you also run the risk of spreading it to other areas, so proper ventilation is a must. Once all these preparations are complete, you can begin cleaning the affected areas.
You will also want to take into consideration your overall health. If you are prone to respiratory infections or asthmatic conditions, mold remediation is something you should leave to the professionals.
How do professionals remove mold?
For a larger or more dangerous mold infestation, hiring a professional is your best bet. They know exactly how to rid the area of the mold in a safe and effective manner. First, they will seal off the area using plastic sheeting so that mold spores cannot disperse throughout the rest of your house. They will then use professional equipment such as HEPA air scrubbers, HEPA air vacuums, and commercial-strength dehumidifiers to clean the area and keep the air dry to prevent the spread of spores.
How to prevent mold from returning
The best ways to prevent mold from returning and overgrowing in your home have a lot to do with keeping moisture at bay. Humidity should be under 60%, and all damp materials or leaks should be quickly taken care of. Since mold can begin growing in only two days, leaving moisture for any length of time increases the risk of mold recurring in your home. You can also improve air flow and ventilation throughout your house by opening closet doors more often and keeping furniture away from walls in small spaces. A dehumidifier can also go a long way, especially in areas that are prone to dampness, such as basements.
Having a mold infestation in your home is not ideal, as it can cause damage to both your house and your health. Ensuring that you keep things dry and address any leaks or moisture issues immediately will keep your home as mold-free as possible.
Featured image by Sandy Millar on Unsplash