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Fight Black Mold Before It Becomes A Problem
When it comes to mold and mold damage, there are five facts to understanding mold that everyone should know. These facts include: 1) Mold needs moisture to grow; 2) Mold can be harmful or helpful depending on where it grows; 3) Mold does not grow on dry materials; 4) Mold growing inside a home can affect the residents; and 5) Homeowners and property residents can learn to recognize mold.
Before one can fight mold, we must learn about what mold is. Molds are microscopic fungi, a group of organisms which also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Fungi are highly adapted to grow and reproduce rapidly, producing spores and mycelia in the process.
Mold is encountered every day. Foods spoil because of mold. Leaves decay and pieces of wood lying on the ground rot due to mold. That fuzzy black growth on wet window sills is mold. Paper or fabrics stored in a damp place get a musty smell that is due to the action of molds.
While molds are often considered to be harmful, certain molds can be useful to people. The drug penicillin is obtained from a specific type of mold. Some foods and beverages are made by the actions of molds. The key to beneficial kinds of molds is that they are selected and grown in a controlled fashion.
Molds are undesirable when they grow where we don’t want them, such as in homes. Molds that grow inside may be different from the ones found outdoors. According to USA Today, there are at least 100,000 types of mold, but only a few dozen are toxic and can cause health problems. These toxic molds produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause rashes, seizures, unusual bleeding, headaches, respiratory problems and severe fatigue in some people. According to the Mayo Clinic, sinus problems are almost always the result of toxic mold.
What Makes Molds Grow?
High moisture levels can be the result of water coming in from the outside, through the floor, walls or roof; or from plumbing leaks; or moisture produced by the people living in the home, through daily activities like bathing, washing clothes or cooking. Water enters the building when there is a weakness or failure in the structure. Moisture accumulates within the home when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.
Different kinds of molds grow on different materials. Certain kinds of molds like an extremely wet environment. Other kinds of molds may be growing even if no water can be seen. Dampness inside the material can be enough to allow them to grow for example, dampness within drywall.
Why Is There Concern Over Mold?
When molds are growing inside the home, there may be health concerns. Molds release chemicals and spores. Health experts indicate that, depending on the type of mold present in a home, the amount and degree of exposure, and the health condition of the occupant, the health effects of mold can range from being insignificant to causing allergic reactions and mold induced illness. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with health problems, such as respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, are more at risk when exposed to mold. Consult your family physician if you believe there is someone who may be at risk.
Do You Have A Mold Problem?
Some mold growing, for example on the window sill but not elsewhere, may not be a huge cause of concern. If it is a small amount, you may be able to clean the mold yourself. However, if the mold is growing on the wall as well, your mold problem might be running deeper. Also, you need to look at factors like «Is there a bed right beside the moldy window?» Certainly, laying one’s head beside a moldy window for several hours a night will not be good. Regardless of the amount of mold found within a home, the presence of mold is a sign that there is too much moisture in your home a situation which must be corrected.
As soon as you notice any mold in your home, continue to inspect the remainder of the home to find the extent of the mold.
How Can One Tell If They Have Mold Growing?
Discoloration is a sign of mold. However, all discoloration is not due to mold. Carpeting near baseboards, for example, can be stained by outdoor pollution entering the home. Stains or soot may also be caused by the smoke from burning candles or cigarettes.
Mold may be any color: black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet. Dab a drop of household bleach onto a suspected spot. If the stain loses its color or disappears, it may be mold. If there is no change, it probably isn’t mold.
Mold is considered to cover a «small area» if the patch is no larger than approximately 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch). There should be no more than three patches, each patch smaller than a square meter. While professional mold cleaning is always the best solution, in most cases, you can clean up small areas yourself using a detergent solution; household rubber gloves and a dust mask (3M 8210 or equivalent) for protection. Infants, children, pets and other family members with asthma, allergies or Ecopro other health problems should not be in the work area or adjacent room during the cleaning. On washable surfaces (i.e. glass), scrub with an unscented detergent solution; then sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly. Using an unscented detergent will make it easier for you to detect residual moldy odors. To clean mold off drywall, clean the surface with a damp rag using baking soda or a bit of detergent. Do not allow the drywall to get too wet. Mold that comes back after cleaning is usually an indication that a source of moisture has not been removed. Seek professional help.
Small moldy areas in homes may become larger over time, if ignored, so it’s important to cleanup and remove even small patches of mold. However, if the mold accompanies an area that has been affected by a lot of water damage, it is best to consult a professional mold remediation company. Always check references and ensure the company is certified by a certification firm such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration.
The mold area is considered «moderate» if there are more than three patches, each patch smaller than 10 square feet or there is one or more isolated patches larger than a square meter but smaller than the size of a 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood. Assessment by a professional is recommended.
A mold area is considered «extensive» if a single patch of mold is larger in area than a sheet of plywood. Being exposed to this much mold is not a good idea. Do not attempt to clean up large areas of mold yourself. You need professional help to determine why the mold is there in the first place and how to clean it up.
When Should You Seek Professional Help?
There is a lot of mold (more than a small area)
The home is very damp and moist
A family member suffers from asthma or respiratory problems or other health problems that appear to be aggravated inside the home such as headaches that appear mid-sleep or upon waking
How Do You Get Professional Help?
Mold remediation firms will send out a mold inspector to identify the problems, find the sources of the mold growth and suggests solutions in a written report. Mold inspectors will provide recommendations along with a proposed action plan that consists of various options to improve the indoor air quality in your home.
Fight Black Mold Before It Becomes a Problem
Even with excellent prevention techniques in place, one may encounter undesirable mold growth within the home. If you encounter a mold growth problem, consider seeking professional help from a certified mold investigator to identify appropriate remediation steps inside the home.
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