How to Keep your Home Mold Free
11 Maintenance Tips on Keeping Your Home Free from Mold
One of the most destructive items present in a home of any age is mold. Mold not only deteriorates the building materials within your home, but is harmful to the health of the home's occupants. Complicating the issue is the fact that most mold is not easily detectable. As a GTA home renovator, we encounter mold on a regular basis while breaking into walls, floors & ceilings to do upgrades or additions.
Dangers of MoldMold accelerates rot in building materials. IT also causes medical issues such as asthma, respiratory problems, allergic reactions, dizziness, nausea, weakness, sleeplessness, flu like symptoms and headaches.
What Causes Mold?The primary cause of mold is the presence of moisture, which combined with the appropriate temperatures, lighting conditions and something for the mold to feed on, will determine the severity and type of mold. If conditions are dry, mold will not grow. High humidity is considered a source of moisture.
Identifying a Mold Problem
There have been over 250 different types of mold identified within Canadian homes. Mold can be present in a number of colours including black, white, red, yellow, blue & purple. Mold is present at all times as a spore floating through the air both inside and outside of the home. This is not a problem -- however, when the spore settles on an item that has favourable conditions for it to exist, it will start to multiply.
A mold problem is not always easily identifiable. However, if you notice materials within your home discolouring, this may be a sign of mold. One of the best indicators of the presence of mold is a musty or earthy smell within your home. Evidence of a water leak, wet spots or dampness is generally an indication that there is or will be mold present.
Getting Rid of Mold
Small quantities (smaller than a square meter)
First, take the necessary safety precautions. Ensure any person(s) with asthma, allergies or respiratory problems are not in the vicinity of the cleanup area.
Ensure proper personal protective gear is in place. This includes goggles, household rubber gloves and a disposable dust mask. The N95 dust mask has been recommended for this application. Ventilating the area is a very good idea.
Generally speaking, vacuuming up any mold that is in excessive quantities and then scrubbing with a detergent solution, wiping the area down with a clean wet rag and then quickly drying the area will get rid of the mold. You must ensure that the source of the moisture problem has been dealt with or the mold will return.
Larger quantitiesIt is recommended that a professional be brought in to deal with larger problems, and to do an assessment of what is causing the problem.
Maintenance Tips on Keeping Mold Free
- Regular cleaning and vacuuming will reduce the amount of mould spores; this includes all surfaces within the home.
- Discard any furnishings or materials that are damaged or moldy. Carpets, mattresses and clothes that are stored in damp dark areas and concrete floors are notorious for promoting mold growth.
- Maintain proper humidity in your home. 40%-45% is a good humidity. However homes with certain materials such as hardwood floors may require slightly higher humidity. Consult the manufacturer's specs for those items. Purchase a hygrometer to monitor your humidity.
- Run the exhaust fans when cooking or showering to move excess humid air from your home. You can test the operation of your exhaust fans by holding a tissue up against the cover of the fan. The suction of the fan should hold the tissue up against the cover. Homes built in the past decade come equipped with a principal exhaust fan usually located in one of the upper bathrooms. This is a larger fan designed to be run frequently to exhaust stale/moist household air.
- Change/clean your furnace filter and HRV filters as per manufacturer’s recommendations, or at least every 3 months.
- Maintain good air circulation throughout your home. Keep air registers free of obstructions.
- Immediately dry any area within the home that has become wet. This includes the area around bathtubs and sinks, and areas around the exterior walls of the home that have become wet from water penetrating the building envelope.
- Maintenance of the building envelope is critical in preventing water penetration and subsequent mold. Regular inspections and maintenance of the cladding, caulking, exterior paint, roofing and flashing materials will help keep the building envelope tight.
- Doing a blower door test can tell you how much air is penetrating your home and can also help you identify the problem areas.
- Open windows on nice days to air out the home, including the basement windows.
- Ensure that ground level water on the exterior of your home is running away from the foundation.