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Mold Prevention – The Basics

Preventing mold seems easy enough – just keep everything dry. While this is simple in a dry desert climate like Southern California it is much more difficult in very wet climates like Maine. The wetness in the air forms a constant army of potential mold that you need to fight against. Whereas in Southern California mold only grows in areas that you know you are watering or have dropped water. Moisture does not “just happen”.

But in the end you need to keep things dry if you do not want them to mold over. This means that if you spill water – you need to dry it – and quickly. You also need to maintain your property. This is easier said than done. Maintenance takes time and money and normally we are short of one or the other, if not both.

Routine Preventative Mantenance

This maintenance first takes into account visual inspections of basements, crawl spaces, attics, and other areas that are not always noticeable. Note how the water for your landscaping flows. Does it soak a wooden wall of the home or flow toward the house? These are things you need to fix. You do not want your wooden home being shot with 4 minutes of sprinkler water every night. This could soak the wood and eventually lead to a mold problem.

What About Roof Mold?

Inspect your roof. If you have an a/c or swamp cooler up there then you need to inspect it often. It is common to find mold in areas where the condensation pan is dripping along the roof of a home. This also goes for a/c units in the attic. Check to ensure no mold grown around the unit and that the drain mechanism is not being clogged by rust or debris.

Behind My Walls?

The area behind a wall is especially difficult to inspect. The most you can do on periodic inspections tis to look for signs of water flow or water damage. If you know of a water flow problem in the past then you migh want to take the time to check behind the wall. For this you may want to enlist the services of a professional. They have special scopes so they do not have to tear apart your drywall.

The Notorious Bathroom Mold

Bathrooms are notorious for mold issues. When you are in the attic looking for mold around the a/c unit or from, any potential roof leaks take some time to go over to the bathroom attic area. Here you need to lift and inspect the insulation in the ceiling. Is it damp? Is it discolored?It is common for bathroom ceilings to get very wet if they are not properly ventilated during bathing. This wetness can seep through the ceiling into the insulation above. The insulation acts a s a sponge and holds water. Then mold starts to grow. If you have seen dark spots on your ceiling. Note that you probably have a mold problem.

Critical – But Oftentimes Missed

It is important to do all of the regular maintenance on your home that most of us avoid or procrastinate. This includes things like cleaning your furnace. Have you ever cleaned your furnace? Most have not. The fact is that each furnace has a maintenance schedule that you need to follow. If you do not you could be asking for problems with condensation and improper collection of water. And as we know – water leads to mold.

Your Humidifier Can Cause Mold

Anytime you have regular use of a humidifier you are asking for mold. That is a problem because many people need humidifiers for miscellaneous health reasons. If you are using a humidifier then it is all the reason to be extra diligent in all of you other mold duties. For the record, I know everyone knows this, but just in case let me connect the dots. A humidifier puts water into the air. Water in the air can then cause your walls, ceilings, carpets to be extra moist. You may not feel it, but the humidifier is making everything “moist”. This wetness can collect in certain areas or behind walls especially if there are cold water pipes running through them the cold water pipes combined with the warm wet air causes – water. This water can gather in the sponge like insulation that in under the pipes and suddenly you have a mold problem.Carpets and curtains or rugs near humidifiers are oftentimes very moist iif the unit is set too high. So watch for these things. You do not want to be using the humidifier to rectify one health problem and then be causing mold symptoms. This is not to say that you should not use a humidifier. But use it properly and do not make so much water in the air that it is about to “rain” inside. Use it properly and you should not have a problem. But use it properly.

Heating And Cooling System Mold

While on this subject. Proper mold prevention includes regular maintenance of your entire heating and cooling system. Not just the furnace unit but also the condense rand the air ducts. Make certain they are properly functioning and without holes. Holes in air ducts that can cause warm or cool air where it does not belong and thus cause condensation or moisture. So make certain the entire system is working properly. It is also a good idea to have them cleaned as per manufacturer instructions. This is to ensure there is nothing in them to gather moisture and nothing in them that is already growing.

Routinely Seal Those Cracks

Toilets, sinks, showers. These all need to be looked at with a clear eye. Not just when you are half asleep crawling into the shower in the morning. There is caulking around all the connections or your shower surround and along your tub. There is also caulking and sealant all around your tub and sink. You toilet too has sealant around the bottom. Look at the angle stops where your toilet water pipes come out of the walls. Look behind and under your toilet. These are all areas where water can collect or “seep through” and collect in another area.For example the sealant around your tub is there for a reason. If the caulking is peeling or flaking or even gone/ Then water is seeping through those cracks. If water is seeping through then it is getting somewhere it is not supposed to be. It is likely that wherever the water is seeping to – has mold. This needs to be inspected and in the very least the sealant needs to be repaired.This is the same for the sealant around your sink. IF the sealant is missing then it is likely the water is getting where it is not supposed to be. I said earlier when discussing mold testing that you need to always look under the sink. Looking under the sink at the floor of the vanity or sink cabinet will usually tell you if you have a leak of not. It is very common to see water damage in these areas.To summarize lets firs reiterate that mold is not the end of the world. Not everyone has a mold allergy. At the same time you do not want mold growing in your home so you need to fix the problem. The first thing you need to do is stop the water. Once you stop the water you can then kill the mold. Clean it. Then you are not finished. Once it is killed and then cleaned, in that order, you need to be diligent about prevention. Inspect. Be aware of your surroundings. And connect the dots. When you see a little water damage do not just think wow that is a cosmetic problem. Think, wow that might be a mold problem. This will increase your urgency to make certain that you look into things and fix anything that is wrong. The last thing to note is that you need to stay on top of regular maintenance. If you are a handy person then you can look for and fix these issues. If not then hire a handyman a couple times a year to re-seal your sinks and showers. To look for leaks or water damage. To crawl into your attic and basement to identify problems. A little mold prevention will pay off in the long run;

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