The 2014 Farmer’s Almanac predicts an oppressively hot, humid and rainy summer in New Jersey. But even if the forecast is typical, the months of July and August are always much warmer and wetter, creating the perfect habitat for mold to grow in your home.
Wherever there is moisture, mold can grow — and it grows on pretty much anything you can think of: ceilings, walls, clothes, wood, drywall, paper, insulation, the list goes on. Mold is a microscopic spore that is always circulating in the air. Spores will take hold and multiply anywhere there's moisture and available cellulose.
More than 1000 types of mold are commonly found in U.S. residences and it’s one of the biggest problems that homeowners face during the summer. As a Certified Mold Inspector I have seen my fair share of nasty mold problems, especially in basements, but it isn't just about how bad it looks. With mold, there is definitely more than meets the eye.
What’s so bad about mold?
Not only can it cause damage to your family’s home, it can cause health issues as well. Once it starts growing, mold can spread rapidly. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for and to deal with it quickly and effectively.
For many years, it was common advice to fight mold with bleach but according to Rebecca Morley, director of the National Center for Healthy Housing in Columbia, Maryland, bleaching away spots just makes it harder to see that there's mold present in the house but dead spores are just as dangerous as live ones because they are still allergenic.
The danger comes when airborne spores overload a person's immune system, which can trigger a variety of allergic reactions from breathing difficulties to skin rashes. In order to effectively deal with mold, you can’t just clean it; you have to stop it.
So how do you know if you have a mold problem?
Molds can produce volatile organic chemicals or VOCs. These VOCs are likely responsible for the musty odor associated with mold growth. Much of the time homeowners with mold issues will notice a bad smell, or stains and discoloration where the mold is growing. Mold growth often appears as green, gray, black, brown, or other discoloration.
It may be clearly visible or it may be hidden under furniture or carpets, in cabinets, behind walls, in crawlspaces or attics. In some cases, even though a strong, musty odor is present, the homeowners can’t locate the source. In these instances, mold may be hidden on the backside of such materials as drywall, wallpaper, paneling, and carpet pads or inside wall cavities and ductwork.
Finding hidden mold is a complicated process and can require actions that may disturb the mold and cause widespread dispersal of spores. In this case, professional assistance from a mold inspector may be necessary.
How can you help prevent mold growth in your home?
Excessive moisture is one of the biggest causes of mold growing in a home. A great place to start in preventing mold growth is to make sure that you don’t have any plumbing leaks, leaking roofs or windows, or any flooding. Poor insulation inside of walls is another common contributor to indoor mold because it causes condensation due to temperature differences.
Once you have ruled out any sources of excess moisture, the next step is to make sure that you are properly ventilating your home to prevent moisture from collecting. It is particularly important to try and ventilate air to the outside and not just into an attic space.
Consider some of these additional simple tips for helping to prevent mold this summer:
§ Keep the relative humidity below 65 percent. If you don’t have air conditioning to help you do this, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of moisture in the air.
§ Use a kitchen exhaust fan to remove steam created during cooking.
§ Make sure that your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors.
§ Always run the bathroom exhaust fan when showering or bathing, and make sure the vent is exhausted to outdoors.
§ Repair water leaks in your roof, windows, or any other part of the home as soon as possible.
§ Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris that may block the flow of water from your roof.
§ Store items in dry, well-ventilated areas.
§ Make sure your attic and crawl space is properly ventilated and insulated.
The presence of mold in our homes is a simple fact of life and it’s probably unrealistic to think that we could get rid of every last little bit, but when left unchecked, mold growth can become much more than just an unsightly nuisance. It can pose health hazards for your family and cause damage to the structural elements of your home.
If you suspect you have mold growing in your home and can’t seem to figure out where or why, a professional mold inspection can help you to identify the source of the moisture and assist you in determining the extent of the mold growth as well as help you with a strategy for getting rid of it. If needed a variety of sampling tests can also be performed to measure the concentration and type of mold infesting your home.
For more information on Inspector Protector’s IAC2 Certified Indoor Air and Mold Inspection services, visit us online at www.njhomeinspector4u.com or call us at 973-255-0369.