This blog will focus on three areas:
- Health risks of living with mold
- Information on when to call a professional
- A check-list if you suspect you may have mold in your home
Mold produces substances that cause allergic reactions called allergens and in some cases potentially toxic substances called mycotoxins. Mold spores are microscopic and look like a very miniature stalks of broccoli and become airborne and disperse like a dandelion plant that you blow into the wind. An allergic reaction to mold in the air is similar to having a runny nose, red eyes, red skin and hay fever like symptoms with sneezing.
These reactions can be immediate or delayed. Molds are especially risky for individuals with asthma symptoms and can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, dry cough, night cough and/or chest pain and tightness.
If you suspect that you have a mold issue the best recommendation is NOT to try to clean it up yourself. Call a professionally certified remediation specialist familiar with mold blooms to conduct an evaluation. And NEVER attempt to clean up a mold infestation with everyday household bleaches. They do not kill mold and with every stroke of the rag you cast millions of mold spores into the air. The key is to act quickly. The longer you have a mold bloom the worse it gets. It will not go away on its own. Let the professionals who are trained and equipped for these situations deal with the problem.
If you clean up the mold without eliminating the water source it will likely come back. Read the publication, “A brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home” at www.epa.gov/mold.moldguide.html [EPA 402-K-02-003].
Following is a checklist if you suspect you may have mold in your home:
- Is there a musty, or odd smell?
- Do you have visible signs of water damage or pooling?
- Do you see signs of a roof leak, plumbing leak or worst a sewer overflow?
- Has this home ever had prior water damage?
- Have you cleaned a surface area to only have a “stain” appear again?
- Did you know that your air conditioning temperature set too low is just as bad as setting it too high? Does the air feel too cold or damp? Is the air moist and warm?
- Do have circular shaped growths on surfaces such as your wall, table tops, picture frames?
- Are you observing any cracks or stains along the walls, on the ceiling or floors?
- Do you see growths that should not be there?
- Do your cabinets show signs of mold growth?
- Do your AC supply vents condensate or have water droplets on them?
- Do you see spots or stains on the ceilings?
- Do you have a supply air vent under a cabinet?
- Do you have a leaking pipe under your sinks?
- Do you see a water stain on the floor near the base of your toilet?
- Is the caulking around your tub or shower clean and free of stain?
- Do you have a musty odor in the attic? Leaking roof? Visible signs of mold?
- Are your floors buckling or cupping the hardwood floors?
- Does it seem too humid in your bathroom?
- Do you see dark stains around the edges of your carpet?
- Do you see any cracks in your building foundation?
- Do you see signs of wood rot or decay around door and windows?
- Do you have any cracked, missing, or damaged roof shingles?
If you have any of the issues above and suspect you may have mold, call a remediation specialist. Always check for references and make sure that they follow the recommended guidelines of the EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or other guidelines recommended by Certified Professional or government organization.
Reference Sources: EPA (www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html) [EPA-402-K-01-001] and materials at Inspection Certification Associates (ICA). You may find other resources available at www.gov/mold/moldresources.html.
Some helpful tips:
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water issues as soon as possible and dry completely.
- Scrub hard surfaces with an EPA approved anti-fungal product and dry completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials such ceiling tiles and carpets may have to be disposed of if they become moldy. Mold will fill in the porous areas and may be extremely difficult to remove.
- Do not paint or caulk over a suspected mold area.
- If you have a treasured family heirloom that has been affected consult with a specialist in removal.
- Increase air flow with ceiling fans or ventilation.
- Remove contaminated materials, they are a breeding ground for microorganisms.