Mold in Your Home
Protecting your home from mold and mildew problems is vital in retaining your home’s value. With all the money and time that you’ve invested in your home, it would be a shame to allow mold to take hold and start ruining both your home’s interior and exterior.
All molds are actually microscopic fungi that grow in filaments as opposed to single cell fungi, such as yeast. Mildew is simply a generic reference to mold growth. Molds, if left unchecked, can develop connected networks called colonies (which are actually considered single organisms) and will spread rapidly by reproducing and consuming organic materials – the very materials used to construct your home.
Molds usually only grow in moist areas, so it’s very important to keep all places in your home as dry and clean as possible. Showers, windowsills and basements inside the home and around foundations and overhangs outside are common places to find mold growth. If your home has a mold problem, first find where the moisture is coming from and fix it if possible. Using a diluted bleach spray kills most mold colonies and can even make the mold disappear altogether.
If you are selling your home, check everywhere that mold can breed, destroy any colonies you find and fix the problems that may be providing the mold with comfortable living conditions. If the home you just sold is found to contain mold problems after the sale, you may be liable for damages and cleanup expenses. It may be wise to employ a professional home inspector to check things out for you.
If you are buying a home, you will likely spring for a home inspection anyway, so many cases of mold growth are discovered prior to the purchase. However, if the mold slips under the radar it can significantly reduce your home’s value as well as put your family’s health at risk. Take the time to check every corner of the home for the strong musty smell that molds produce.
Here are a few hotspots to look at when inspecting for mold:
Exterior plants and trees. If leaves from plants or trees are touching your home, this can be a breeding ground for mold. The leaves trap moisture against the house and before you know it, mold is growing out of control. Leaves also shield the walls from the sun, slowing down the drying time. Check around your home’s exterior for mold colonies and areas that are conducive to mold growth. Kill and clean the mold and trim back leaves and branches that may be contributing to the problem.
Foundation dampness. Too much water against your foundation can lead to a wicking effect that actually draws water upward and inward. This leads to damp inner basement walls and floor joists. In addition to mold problems, this can also lead to rot. Make sure the drainage around the foundation is adequate and that the soil is not touching any wooden parts of the home.
Improper grading. If the land your home was built on allows rainwater to flow toward the house instead of away, this is inviting horrible mold issues. There are several ways to alleviate this problem, but consulting a professional landscaper is probably your best approach.
Poor caulking and bad grout. If your shower’s caulking is peeling away or if the grout between tiles has come loose, this can allow water to seep in behind the wall which, again, invites mold colonies to grow and multiply. Fix your caulking and your tile grout upon the first sign of trouble.
Plumbing leaks. Dripping pipes give mold fungi a great place to put down roots. Oftentimes these pipes are behind walls, so the pungent smell of the mold may be your only indicator of a problem. If you suspect mold and can’t reach it, call a professional before it becomes an epidemic in your home.
Roof leaks. Old or damaged roofs leak – it’s a fact of life. This leaking leads to moisture in the ceiling and walls and, shortly thereafter, mold. Be sure the home’s roof is in good shape and that there are no water stains on the interior ceiling.
Sprinklers. If your home has an exterior sprinkler system, be sure that the heads are aligned properly so they do not spray the house. The more water that’s directed toward your home, the more likely you will encounter a mold problem.
Whatever you might find, just don’t wait. Mold problems seldom alleviate themselves and usually just get worse and worse. Identify the problem, fix it, kill the mold and be ever vigilant. Mold is everywhere and no home is immune.