Mold growth is one of the most frustrating, most pervasive issues that homeowners face. From the musty smells, to the water stained ceilings, to the visible spores, mold is a common concern nationwide and it doesn’t always come with an easy solution.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold is, quite literally, everywhere. It grows year-round in all U.S. regions, most often in damp, shady spots indoors and within the soil outside. Inside the home, this translates to those areas where humidity and moisture levels are high—in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and anywhere else where water can accumulate.
Wherever you live, whatever you do, mold is likely there.
The good news is most of this poses no widespread health threat to humans. However, some molds can cause symptoms—most often allergic reactions such as nasal congestion and eye irritation, and more—and some people are more susceptible to mold than others, making it a medical question first and foremost. Mold is also fairly easy to remove once located and identified, and can be cleaned up with as little as a bleach and water solution.
The real trick is preventing mold growth from happening in the first place.
In truth, it comes down to one simple fact: moisture prevention. Keeping water from entering your home through gaps in windows and doors, and addressing water sources inside the home such as leaky pipes, is job one. And once moist areas have been located, removing any mold and completely drying the area is job two.
Although mold is typically not covered by homeowners insurance, The Insurance Information Institute has offered several tips to help homeowner prevent and control any mold growth in their homes.
Reduce the humidity: Mold thrives in moist, humid environments, so it stands to reason that reducing the relative humidity in your home will help prevent mold growth. Specifically, the I.I.I. recommends keeping the humidity level in the home between 30% and 60% and installing exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to prevent the buildup of any additional humidity. They also warn against anything that allows water to build up, including carpets installed in basements and bathrooms and even dishes kept under houseplants.
Stay dry: There is a long list of items in just about every home that can potentially release water. From the bathroom sinks, to the refrigerator, to the dishwasher, to the water heater, it’s critical to inspect all of these places and appliances—including the toilets, faucets, shower liners and any pipes and fittings—on a regular basis so that you can spot and halt any potential leaks early before they cause problems. Another often-overlooked water source in the home: The roof. Make sure the gutters are kept clear of debris at all times so that rainwater will be effectively carried away, instead of backing up against the roofline and finding its way into the home.
Clean up properly: OK, so what happens if water does find its way into your home, whether from a storm, flood, or leaking appliance? Start by removing any standing water as quickly as possible, and then make sure to properly dry whatever is left. Soaked carpets, padding and upholstery either needs to be fully dried or removed within 24-48 hours to prevent any potential mold growth. What’s more, all areas that have been flooded or otherwise exposed to water will need to be washed and disinfected. Even in non-emergency situations, it’s important to clean bathrooms with bleach and other mold-killing products, and to apply mold inhibitors to paint before it goes up on the walls.