Dean Dowd runs a blog devoted solely to remodeling issues at Calfinder.com. Calfinder is probably the only one of a class of sites - those that purport to find you a handyman, contractor or skilled craftsperson near you for a particular project - that actually work well, due to the extensive screening process & database that they are continually updating and finessing.
Thanks to Dean for having one of his staff write this article - specifically for Hewn & Hammered - on identifying, treating and preventing housemold mold:
Whether you are planning a bathroom remodel or have just completed one, it’s important to remember that the work doesn’t stop there. Because even the most spotless home contains some degree of mold, homeowners must stay vigilant at recognizing the signs of excessive mold growth. Mold is a substance that creeps up on old and new homes alike. When mold begins to multiply indoors, the outcome can affect your health as well as the health of your home. This includes damage to building materials, household goods, and furniture. Breathing mold in or coming into physical contact with mold can result in various health symptoms, including allergies, asthma, infection, irritation, and even toxic effects.
What is mold?
Recognizing mold begins with an understanding of what the substance is and where it comes from. Mold is a type of fungus that floats in the air and rests upon surfaces. There is no way to avoid mold altogether, as small particles of mold are found everywhere in indoor and outdoor air.
Molds thrive in areas with high moisture and humidity, such as neighborhoods in fog banks or in specific rooms of the house, such as the basement or shower. Moisture can result in a variety of ways, from faulty pipes or building leaks to poor ventilation and regular use of a humidifier. Mold spores spread via water particles and act like seeds in search of the right conditions to spread.
To grow and multiply, mold needs 3 things:
- moisture for growth
- space for growth
- nutrients for growth, such as wood or sheetrock
When should you worry?
Now that you know the basic character of mold, what should you do about it? If you can easily see and smell your mold, you may have an issue that needs fixing. Mold stains look fuzzy, cottony, or leathery and can appear in various colors. Since it normally appears where there’s moisture, check for mold in areas exposed to water. Mold has a pungent musty smell. The good news is that visible indoor mold can usually be cleaned off hard surfaces.
Some forms of mold produce chemicals called mycotoxins. These can result in more serious health effects. Sampling the air for mold cannot be done visually and would require professional testing.
What should I do about it?
Simply cleaning mold as soon as it appears can prevent it from becoming a problem. Check for mold between bathroom tiles and even in the folds of your shower curtain. Wear rubber gloves and goggles and use a regular cleaning detergent or commercial mold remover to wash it off. Afterwards, throw away the rag or sponge you used to do the clean-up and dry the area thoroughly. Wet surfaces in the home should be dried completely within 24 hrs.
Prevention is an important precaution to take to keep the nasty mold spores away. Some simple ways to prevent mold include the following:
- regularly open windows to ventilate the house
- immediately clean small and large spills
- maintain a 30-60 percent humidity level
- avoid carpeting in basements and carpets
- add mold inhibitors to paint
- replace carpets or other water-absorbent materials after soaking
- quickly investigate and address underlying problems, such as leaks
If you’re worried about having a mold variety with mycotoxins, hire a professional to extract a sample and test it for dangerous substances. Attempting this alone can increase your risk of exposure.
Want more information? Here are some helpful links about mold:
Creative Commons-licensed photo courtesy of Flickr user Angelo Juan Ramos