With spring approaching, temperatures will rise, creating a problem that most people can’t see. MOLD – the new four-letter word - is a toxic bacteria that grows in most homes across the US. In Rhode Island, mold grows to dangerous levels because of the outside change in temperature coupled with the lack of direct sunlight and poor inside ventilation. Most people associate mold with damp basements, but when was the last time you inspected your attic ceiling? Moisture caused by ice often gets trapped in the attic in the winter and creates condensation in the spring, which leads to mold. As we enter the warmer part of the year, for many people, allergies will become a huge problem. What some people may not realize is that sometimes, these allergies are caused by mold.
Mold has become one of the biggest concerns for property owners everywhere because there is no practical way to eliminate it since it exists as part of the natural environment. However, indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled, mostly by controlling indoor moisture levels. If you are concerned about mold affecting your property and/or your health, here are 10 tips to keep in mind:
1) Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
2) The primary locations where mold often occurs are kitchens and bathrooms around the sink areas, drywall and air ducts. Regular maintenance of these areas are of the utmost importance.
3) If mold is a problem in your home or building, try as soon as possible to determine the source of the water problem or leak and have it cleaned professionally.
4) Although nothing can substitute for using a certified expert to eliminate the problem, temporary solutions include keeping doors open, creating circulation in the area where mold is present, keeping it dry and removing anything wet as soon as possible. Your goal is to eliminate any sources of moisture.
5) Indoor humidity must be reduced (to 20-40%) to decrease mold growth. You can do this by adequately venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.
6) Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
7) Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (e.g., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
8) In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting
9) Mold can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
10) When talking to a professional mold cleanup service, make sure they are certified by the IICRC organization (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). They have served as the watchdog for the cleaning, inspection and restoration service industries for more than 30 years.
If you suspect a mold problem, first consult your physician if it’s affecting your personal health, and then focus on eliminating the mold problem. The first step to prevention and containment is inspection by an IICRC certified expert who can assess your needs.
Written by Christian Mello, Owner of 911 Restoration, Inc., Providence Rhode Island. Mello has broad expertise in the assessment of all remediation topics including water, smoke, fire, and mold.