Mold Remediation Tips and Tricks
Here are 7 areas of your home you can find mold and some tips and tricks for how to get rid of it!
Mold. What is it? How do you get rid of it and why is it important to do so? If you are currently a homeowner or are looking to become one, mold will more than likely be something you have to deal with at some point in that process.
Let’s take a deeper look at what mold is and what you can do to prevent and treat it in your home.
What Exactly Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus made up of large amounts of organisms that are outside, are very beneficial to the environment due to their ability to break down plant and animal matter. However, inside your home mold can cause you a whole slew of problems. Being a fungus, mold releases spores that can then be transported into your home via the following avenues:
On your pets
You will likely find mold in very dark, damp spaces within your home which can not only cause cosmetic issues but can also have a huge impact on your overall health and wellness. Mold can be a major problem in homes. Common symptoms of mold exposure are very similar to cold symptoms and often present themselves in the form of sneezing, difficulty breathing, itchy or watery eyes, sore throat, and coughing. Pre-existing medical conditions like COPD, cystic fibrosis, and a compromised immune system can put you at a higher risk for developing more serious infections following exposure to mold.
How Do You Know If It's Mold?
So what are the signs of mold? How do you know that it's there and you aren’t just experiencing normal allergy symptoms? Mold will commonly start out as a very small spot in your home but will spread quickly. It can appear to have a cotton-like or velvet texture and presents itself in a variety of colors but is mainly green, black, white, or spotty in color. Not sure if it's mold in your home or just a smudge of dirt? Here are some extra signs to look for:
A musty, earthy smell
Warping or cracking of the material that it is growing on or the materials surrounding it
There is not a large availability of light in the area, but there is a source of moisture. You may not notice mold in these areas, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on them just in case. Mold loves low lighting and moisture.
Its color lightens quickly with the addition of bleach
Still not sure if you have a mold issue? Make an outline with a marker around the spot and see if it spreads beyond the boundary. Mold will grow quickly, dirt obviously does not.
Types of Mold
Why is knowing the type of mold you have in your home important? Because then you will have a better understanding of how to get rid of it. There are three types of mold that are most commonly found in homes. Let's take a quick look at each!
Aspergillus - This is a very common type of mold that can be found both inside and outside of your home, so most people actually breathe in the spores on a daily basis without realizing it. It is commonly found in food and air conditioning systems. Despite it being very prevalent in the environment, fewer than 40 species that fall under this genus are actually known to cause health issues in humans.
Cladosporium - With over 500 species of Cladosporium, it can be hard to identify in your home, but is often found on the back of toilets and air ducts. It is typically black, green, or brown in color and grows in or “pepper-like” tiny spots situated very close to one another.
Stachybotrys Chartarym - Otherwise known as black mold or toxic black mold, this type of mold causes the same symptoms as the others. You may hear that this type of mold causes more severe health problems than any other type, but there is no scientific data to back such a claim. It is often found in drywall, subflooring, or carpets that have been exposed to moisture.
How Do We Get Rid of Mold?
So, once you have come to the conclusion that there is mold in your home, how do you get rid of it? Luckily, there are many options available for mold remediation depending on what type of surface the mold is growing on, most of which you can even do yourself. If the problem is outside the realm of your expertise or you notice that any mold you remove continuously returns, you may need to consider hiring professional help to alleviate the issue.
Let’s take a look at some of the common areas mold can be found in your home so you can be better equipped to remove it. Be advised: before removing mold from anywhere in your home it is necessary to take proper precautions. The CDC recommends that you wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, protective eyewear, and a mask to cover your nose and mouth during the removal process.
7. Removing Mold From Wood
Removing mold from wood is generally an easy task as long as it is not too widespread. Steps to remove it are as follows:
Vacuum the area to remove any loose spores that may be on the surface
Scrub the area with soap and water. If you are dealing with untreated wood, bleach is also an option for this step. Be sure to dry the area thoroughly to get rid of any excess moisture.
If you still notice mold remaining, you can try to sand it out. Be advised that the sanding process will remove any finishes that are on the surface. With wood, mold can travel fairly deeply into its pores, so check back in a couple of days to see if the process needs to be repeated.
6. Removing Mold From Your Walls
When you begin to notice mold on your walls, that may mean that there is a more serious problem going on behind the scenes. Mold in your walls can be an indication of a leaky pipe or ventilation issue that you will need to address in addition to the mold removal. If the source of the problem is not fixed, the mold will keep returning no matter how many remediation measures you take. If you do suspect a leak, clean the area and see how quickly the mold comes back. If it pops back up quickly, you may need to hire outside help to address the issue.
Scrubbing mold from your walls can be done most effectively with a large sponge soaked in bleach and water. If there is a particularly stubborn spot, let the solution sit for a few minutes before scrubbing and drying off the area. If that doesn’t take care of the problem, see about mixing a mold remover in with your bleach solution for a little bit of extra power.
5. Bathroom Mold Removal
More often than not, mold forms in bathrooms because of a ventilation issue. If you have a fan in your bathroom, make sure to run it when you are taking hot showers so that the moisture and steam don’t condensate on the walls and other surfaces. If you live in an older home without a ventilation system in the bathroom, crack a door or window as often as you can while showering so that the steam can dissipate. If you notice any plumbing leaks, address the issue immediately so you don’t have any standing water. Standing water on the floors of your bathroom can seep into your flooring and lead to an even bigger mess down the road.
Similar to what you would do to remove mold from your walls or wood, a bleach solution mixed with water should do the trick. You will need to match the size of whatever sponge you are using to the area you are scrubbing the mold away from. If you are removing mold from the corners of your shower or grout between the tiles, something as small as a toothbrush will take care of the problem.
4. Mold Removal From the Exterior of Your Home
One of the main reasons you want to remove mold from the exterior of your home is because it is just plain ugly to look at. But, mold on the outside can also travel into the interior of your home, so it is best to take care of the problem as soon as possible to prevent this from occurring. Common places for mold to appear on the exterior of your home are decks, porches, as well as vinyl or wood siding. When working on the exterior of your home, a power washer will more than likely do the trick for your mold issue.
If you have stucco or concrete walls in your home, you can use a garden hose. With these materials, give the area a light wash before applying the bleach or cleaning solution, let it sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse it away. When remediating mold outside, it is important to use a non-toxic solution so you will not harm plants or animals in the process.
3. Mold In Your Kitchen
Much like the bathroom, preventing mold buildup in your kitchen can be accomplished by cleaning regularly with bleach wipes or other cleaning solutions. Wipe away any water you see lingering around your sink, refrigerator, or other appliances and fix leaks as soon as you possibly can. When putting away your dishes and cutlery, make sure that they are completely dry before doing so to avoid mold buildup in cabinets and drawers.
2. Mold In Your Basement
Mold loves basements. Low ventilation, humidity, and poor air flow make it the perfect home for mold to take over. Basements are also extremely prone to flooding, whether it be from the outside in or from leaky pipes in the upper floors. Basements often feature cinder block or concrete walls, which can be particularly difficult to scrub once mold develops there. To prevent mold in basements, regular use of humidifiers can be a huge help. Also making sure to keep an eye on the exterior of your home for foundation issues is another avenue you can take to be more proactive.
To get rid of mold in your basement, you will need to scrub the surfaces down, but depending on where the mold has developed, you may end up having to replace materials. Drywall or ceiling tiles are especially porous, so it may be less hassle to just replace them instead of having to repeatedly clean the area if the mold comes back. If there is mold in your basement carpet, sweep the area to loosen up the spores, and let it dry in the sun. If you have no windows or doors in your basement that provide natural light, you can buy a fan to help dry the area out.
1. Mold In Your Attic
Very similar to your basement, your attic is a prime environment for mold to be happy and grow. Scrub any areas where you notice mold much like you would other surfaces in your home, but take note of any especially porous areas so that you can keep an eye out for mold’s return post-cleaning.
Mold can be prevented in your attic by aiming any vents to the outside of the home. Keeping an eye on your roof for any leaks in the shingles or skylights is also important.
Final Thoughts on Mold Remediation
Most mold can be removed on your own by scrubbing down the surfaces with a mixture of bleach and water, a more concentrated mold solution, and by regularly cleaning and drying areas where moisture has a tendency to build up. If you're under contract on a home your home inspection should reveal any potential mold problems. If the problem is too big for you to handle, you can seek professional help for mold remediation. Regardless of what city you live in, there are a number of companies that will come into your home to do the job for you. It is best to treat the problem as soon as possible and do your due diligence to ensure that there is not a larger issue at hand when dealing with mold. You should be able to negotiate mold remediation when you're buying a home if you're currently under contract. Always consult a mold remediation specialist if you have further questions!