From Ceiling to Foundation: Molds in the Environment

Written by Milan Jara

Mold is something that most people come into contact with on a regular basis. When bread products are left out too long, they grow green-colored fungi on them that is referred to as mold. There are literally tens of thousands of molds that have been cataloged, and there is the potential for tens of thousands more that science has yet to explore. Mold can appear indoors or outdoors and grows best in conditions that are warm and damp. Since mold is a fungus, it spreads by distributing spores that replicate themselves, sometimes very quickly and sometimes slowly. It should be noted that mold can survive in dry conditions, which means that mold must be physically removed from an area before an infestation is considered to be eliminated. Mold can create a variety of health issues and should be eliminated as soon as it is detected.

Where to Look for Mold

Part of the problem with mold is that it tends to grow in places that most people cannot see without doing a lot of looking. For example, you could have mold growing on the side of your decorative ceiling tiles that you cannot see and it could be spreading. By the time the mold gets to the side of your ceiling tiles that you can see, the infestation could be severe. Since mold can grow in any space that is warm, humid, and dark, it is a good idea to have a professional come to your home and do a mold scan to see if you have anything to worry about. The pipes behind your clothes washer could be leaking in the walls and creating mold. By the time you see it, the repair and removal costs could be staggering. That is why you need to get a professional mold scan at least once a year.

What to do When You Find Mold

Some of the more common places where mold is found are in greenhouses, summer cottages, antique shops, basements, and inside walls where piping runs. If you see or smell mold, then your next step is to get the mold removed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend wasting time or money sampling to find out what kind of mold you are seeing or smelling because accurate mold tests are expensive and potentially unreliable. A mold expert can often identify the more hazardous forms of mold on sight. If you find mold, call an expert to have it removed and do not bother with expensive testing. There are no recognized standards for mold testing, so it is best to just have the mold removed and avoid any serious issues.

The Factors That Affect Mold Growth

The factors that affect the type of mold that can grow in a building include the age of the building, the materials used to make the building, and the geographic location of the building. With tens of thousands of mold types possible, no one will be able to pinpoint the exact species of mold you are dealing with. But an expert familiar with the mold in your area can give you a general idea as to what kind of mold you could be dealing with.

Reducing the Appearance of Mold

While it can be difficult to stop the formation of mold, you can take steps to slow its growth and give yourself a chance to identify and remove mold before it gets out of control.

Reduce Humidity

A dehumidifier placed in an office or home can be a great tool in the battle against mold. You do not need to run your dehumidifier constantly to keep a space dry, but you should run it whenever the air is thick with moisture.

Adequate Ventilation

Mold grows in areas where moisture collects, which is why proper ventilation is critical in reducing the appearance of mold. Every home, office, or commercial building should have ventilation in the bathrooms and kitchens to help remove excess moisture. You should also clean your vents at least twice a year using a solution of bleach and water. Remember to wear protective clothing before exposing yourself to bleach and open all of the doors and windows to allow the bleach to dissipate.

Proper Design

You can reduce the chances of mold growing in your home or office by following some simple design tips. They include:

  • Never use any kind of carpeting in your basement or bathroom.
  • When a carpet in any of your other rooms gets soaked with water, either dry it immediately or have the carpet replaced.
  • If you are steam cleaning a carpet, open the doors and windows to allow enough air flow to dry the carpet quickly.
  • Use paint in your bathroom, kitchen, and basement that is specifically designed to withstand mold. Keep in mind that these paints do not prevent mold from forming, but they do make it very easy to clean mold off of the walls and remove it from your home.
  • If you see mold forming outside of your home, take immediate action to remove the mold and have the inside of your home checked for any infestation.
  • If you have a central air system installed, then also ask about adding a dehumidifying feature to that system to help keep your home or office's interior humidity level as low as possible.

- Milan Jara

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