Summer is when the mold in your home or business really wakes up. The heat, high humidity, and drenching rainstorms create the perfect conditions for tenacious, unwanted growth to flourish. And if you think mold and mildew are just an unsightly nuisance, think again. Once it gets a foothold, mold can wreak havoc on your home or business, and can often be dangerous to your health. Here’s what you should know about it:
Mold “wakes up” in hot, humid weather.
Mold spores can lie dormant in your home without you knowing it, on wood, paper, fabrics, drywall, and other materials until the heat and humidity give them new life. Once temperatures become favorable, they become active and grow, causing major problems.
Mold is often hidden.
Mold can destroy the things it grows on – including your home’s walls, floors, carpeting, and furnishings. Often, mold grows unseen behind drywall, under carpets, behind bathroom tiles, and under floorboards. In those cases, by the time you spot the growth, it is already a major problem. Mold is also often found under sinks, dishwashers, and refrigerators – check them regularly to ensure there are no leaks. The key is to control moisture in your home and eliminate mold growth before it takes over.
TIP: Keep your humidifier set at 50% or below during humid summer months.
Dry out wet towels, bathing suits, and summer toys immediately.
We’ve all been there – we get back from the beach or pool, tired from the swimming and the sun. The kids drop their wet towels and bathing suits on the floor or keep them in the cloth beach bag and run for snacks – and then the wet balls of stuff sit there for days. The problem is that mold can start growing within 24 hours. And if those wet towels and things are near a wall or on a wood floor or carpet, the mold can easily spread onto those nearby surfaces. Next thing you know, you’ve got a serious problem. So be sure to remove wet items and dry them out as soon as you get home!
Watch for cross-contamination.
We often find mold in basements, and don’t think too much about it because it’s not our primary living space. But what we don’t consider is that mold spores can spread easily throughout a dwelling through HVAC units and air conditioners, bringing that basement mold to bedrooms, bathrooms, and other places in the home. What’s worse, air conditioning units and HVAC systems have been known to produce their own mold if not properly maintained, which can also spread mold spores throughout the house or workplace.
Mold causes health problems.
All molds — even those not considered “toxic” — cause health issues, including allergic reactions, sneezing, runny, itchy eyes, red nose, and skin rashes. Mold can also cause asthma attacks and can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.
Don’t wait – take immediate steps to prevent mold, especially after heavy rain.
The most important thing you can do is to control moisture levels in your home – starting now. If water enters your home, take immediate steps to get rid of it. Remove anything that gets wet. Use vacuums and fans to rid surfaces of any residual moisture. Things as simple as your wet dog jumping on the couch or drying laundry indoors during high humidity can cause mold to grow in fabrics if not dried out quickly.
TIP: Take action within 24 hours – that’s all mold needs to begin invading your home.
Another preventative measure is managing the water runoff from your house. If the water pouring off your roof has nowhere to drain, it will find its way into your home. Keep your gutters and downspouts debris-free. Also, make sure that your downspouts are angled adequately away from the house. Otherwise, water will collect at the edge of the house and leak into the foundation and basement.
Test for mold if water enters your house.
Once an area is dry, have your home tested for mold, especially if you smell a musty odor. And keep in mind: do-it-yourself mold tests are often inaccurate. Your best bet is to call in an independent, certified microbial mold inspector.
Don’t get scammed!
Make sure the company you hire to test does not also do remediation. A 2016 New York State law bans any company from doing testing and remediation on the same job. Connecticut and New Jersey have not yet established similar laws, but the logic behind the regulation is clear. An independent, certified service that tests for mold but does not do the remediation has no incentive to boost profits by exaggerating or inventing problems and then charging more to “fix” them. (Be especially wary of those who bait property owners with “free testing,” then charge thousands on “repairs” that may not be necessary.) Click here for more information.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers a free download, Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home. Check it out HERE.