We know many homeowners are familiar with a general definition of what mold is and how it can form, but often homeowners’ knowledge of mold stops there. However, a more extensive education on mold remediation, removal, causes, prevention and dangers can be very beneficial.
Mold refers to a group of fungi most commonly found on food or within wet materials. The green Penicillium species and fungi is what grows on spoiled bread, fruit, cheese, or other food products or produce. Mold that is found within homes or buildings is found outside, usually within soil, plants, or decaying material. Mold within your home can often be detected by a musty or damp smell.
While mold and fungi grow naturally outdoors, when it comes to indoor mold production, in order to grow and survive, mold needs moisture. As you may have guessed, common breeding grounds for indoor mold are areas of water damage, or areas of the home with extreme humidity or dampness. So, what exactly causes these water damaged, and humid areas within your home?
Cause 1: Roof leaks from damaged areas or soft spots letting moisture into your home from the outside elements.
Prevention 1: Making sure to regularly inspect your roof, especially before the winter season. It is important in preventing leaks and/or water damage. If you do in fact notice a leak, it is important to have an inspection done and to repair it as soon as possible. This is to avoid prolonged water damage.
Cause 2: Clogged gutters or ice dams forming on your gutter system and/or the edge of your roof. Clogged gutters hinder gutters from doing their job properly. Because of this, the water overflows from the gutter – landing directly at your foundation. Instead of flowing away from your home, which is a gutter’s designed purpose. Ice dams cause a similar hindrance, and may even tear your gutter system down. The continued pooling of water around your home’s foundation from damaged gutters, or no gutters, is a common cause for foundation and basement water damage. And in extreme cases, may even lead to basement flooding.
Prevention 2: Cleaning your open gutter system at least twice a year, and maybe more, depending on debris shed in the area in which your home is located, is crucial in maintaining your gutters and making sure they’re working properly. If you are not interested in having cleanings done twice a year, you may want to think about having gutter guards installed. If your home suffers from ice damming, it is important that you have a heat loss inspection conducted on your home, since most of the time, ice dams are caused from heat loss coming from your attic. As proactive preventative measures, you can also have a heated gutter system installed. And/or snow removed from your roof after each big storm.
Cause 3: Leaking or exploded pipes may also lead to flooding, water damage, and moisture buildup within your home and/or it’s walls.
Prevention 3: Regular maintenance of your pipes is key to keeping them from sprouting a leak. During winter, it is a good idea to insulate or wrap pipes that are close to exterior walls to prevent them from bursting in extreme temperatures. Even pipes not buried deep enough may need insulation.
Cause 4: Condensation from steamy showers, cooking, and damp areas like basements and crawlspaces may lead to mold growth.
Prevention 4: Using a dehumidifier in those chronically damp places is very important in relieving moisture. Air conditioners are often used in warm, humid conditions to decrease moisture from condensation. Note that warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation can also occur within the exterior walls of your home if it has poor ventilation. Furniture should be pulled slightly from the wall to allow proper airflow of moisture, particularly in rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen, where condensation from steam often occurs.
The affect mold exposure has on a person is dependent on each individual. In addition to the amount of exposure to mold and the duration. Some common reactions to mold may include allergies, irritation, flu-like symptoms or skin rashes. If you struggle with asthma, mold exposure will likely irritate your asthma further. Those likely at risk are:
If you suspect your home may have mold buildup due to water damage, the first step would be to have an evaluation and inspection performed by a professional. If there is mold growth, or an infestation within your home, the professional can contain, remove, and repair the damage done. However, mold removal and mold remediation can cost upwards of $6,000 depending on the amount of damage. See our blog on Ice Damming & Water Damage Costs for more information.
It is important for you and your home’s wellbeing to follow these preventive measures. When it comes to avoiding water damage and mold growth, maintaining your gutter system and your roof, having proper ventilation, and being conscious of areas that produce large amounts of steam and condensation. If your home is in need of mold remediation, we have a list of professional referrals that can help you! Need a mold removal recommendation, or a gutter or guard repair or installation? Contact us today!