Mold has lived with us for centuries. Some molds release toxins, and some don’t. Molds are microorganism that grows in colonies and need a food source, water, optimal temperature, and time to grow. If molds are all around us, how do we inspect and prevent their growth?
Have you walked into a room and noticed a strong, musty odor? Was it in the basement, crawl space, or attic? Did you think it was from the poor air circulation with the doors closed? Musty order could be a sign of mold. Can you see any water damage? Dry watermark on the walls? Holes in the roof or walls? Any obvious mold? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Was the previous water damage fixed? Or is there a slow leak you don’t know about that can lead to mold growth?
When inspecting your personal property or a home you plan to purchase, you should examine the appliances connected to a water source. You might wonder, if I am hiring a home inspector, why do I need to inspect myself? A home inspector is a great team member, but there are multiple items the inspectors are checking. If you find something, you can bring it up to the home inspector as well. The inspectors may recommend an expert in mold at that time.
When appliances are connected to a water source, there is a chance for the connection to go faulty and lead to a slow leak. It is wise to check behind the appliances. Some items to inspect are:
- Ice maker connections
- Washing machine connection
- Water heater
- Plastic p trap
- Toilet connections
- Shower doors
- Exterior hose bib
- Outdoor water sprinklers
Inspect your appliances at least once or twice a year. Don’t forget to check the air conditioner condenser drain. At least once a year, pour some bleach and clean it.
Preventing mold growth
If we know the food source, water, optimal temp, and time needed for mold growth, the plan is to remove them. We need good ventilation, a dry environment, a lack of food sources, and possibly even fungicides and biocides to prevent mold.
Some examples are:
- The last person taking a shower will need to squeegee the glass door and keep it open so that the moisture can get out. Open the bathroom door and turn on the air ventilation if you have one
- In rooms with no ventilation, consider using an air de-humidifier. Mold tends to grow with humidity > 60%. Try to keep the humidity around 30-50%.
- Clean up the water mess quickly. If needed, call a professional as the optimal time to clean up extensive water damage is within the first 24 hours.
- Once a leak is found, please fix it! If you are unsure of the leak duration, examine if there are any signs of mold growth. Perform mold inspection! You may want to hire professionals to inspect for hidden mold growth.
- For small growth, clean it with soap and water. Fungicide may help, depending on the project.
When in doubt, seek expert help. This concludes part 2, mold inspection and prevention, of the mold series. Please read the following article on how to remove and remediate mold (part 3).To learn more about what mold is and how it affects us, please read part 1 (Mold-What is it and What is its Toxicity or Symptoms).