Household Mold: How to Protect your Property
No one knows how many species of mold fungi exist, but some estimates are as high as 300,000 different types. While most associate molds with warm, damp and humid conditions, there are actually several environments in which mold thrives. Mold spreads and reproduces by making spores; those spores can survive harsh, dry and cold conditions. Ergo, environmental conditions do not kill mold problems. Aside from the allergic reactions —some severe—over time, mold can significantly damage a home: attacking wallpaper, wood, drywall, carpeting and interior furnishings. What are the signs that a home is at risk from mold? Moisture condensation on windows, plasterboard that cracks or drywall tape that buckles, warping floors or a musty odor are all red flags that mold could be growing in a home.
How to Lessen the Risk of Mold Decreasing exposure to mold, according to both Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines can be done by ventilating bathing and cooking areas to keep humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent.
If mold is found, it can be removed from hard surfaces with soap and water or a bleach solution of one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. If bleach is used to clean up household mold, never mix it with ammonia or other household cleaners. To ensure proper ventilation, open windows and doors to allow fresh air in; and wear overalls, gloves and protective eyewear—and consider a respirator.
James King, field technical manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, says prevention and acting quickly in the case of a spill are two key ways to head off mold problems.
“Any water-damaged material should be removed or completely dried within 48 hours. This includes carpeting, sheetrock and insulation. Just stopping the leak and not addressing the moisture will inevitably lead to mold growth,” he notes. In order to keep humidity levels below the recommended 60 percent ceiling, he recommends installing a dehumidifier, turning on exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and venting moisture-producing appliances such as clothes dryers.
Hiring Professional Help Most cities have many mold remediation contractors who can handle complete clean up. Keep in mind a few considerations when hiring this type of service company. King suggests asking for references, collecting multiple estimates, confirming their licensing and insurance, obtaining a warranty or guarantee on services, and ensuring they have received a certification from a bona fide organization such as the Indoor Air Quality Association, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration or OSHA. Of course, it is always prudent to check any potential contractor with the Better Business Bureau in the area for consumer complaints.
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