The Top 10 Most Important Things You Should Know About Mold in Your Home
#1 Moisture is the key to mold problems
Mold spores are naturally occurring organisms and are actually beneficial in order to decompose things like dead trees and plants. Mold spores feed on any organic material, but do not grow or reproduce unless there is plenty of moisture. If you can control the moisture problem in your home, then you can control the mold problem. Find out the moisture problem associated with the growth of mold in your home, and then fix it. Click on our how to prevent moisture problems page to learn more.
#2 Mold problems are fixed by cleaning up the mold AND fixing the moisture problem
The only one-two punch that knocks out your mold problem is cleaning the mold, then fixing the moisture problem. If you clean the mold, but leave the moisture problem unfixed, the mold will mostly likely return.
#3 If the mold growth is 10 square feet or less (approx. 3ft x 3ft), you can usually do it yourself; otherwise you should consider calling a professional.
Letting a mold problem go unchecked is not only a risk to your health, but can be very damaging to your property. If a mold growth reaches over 10 square feet, the exposure may be too risky to do it yourself. In addition, even if the growth is under 10 square feet, you may want to call a professional if the material on which it is growing is porous, and therefore may need to be removed. For more information on handling mold on porous material, click here.
#4 You should wear a proper air mask, goggles, and gloves when cleaning mold in order to limit exposure to mold spores.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends using an N-95 face mask or equivalent. Manufacturers make different types of these masks, but the most basic look like a regular dust mask with a characteristic square filter on the front. Gloves should be made of material such as latex or nitrile, and should reach the middle of your forearm in order to minimize exposure to mold spores. Safety glasses, preferably without vents, should be used in order to prevent spores from landing in your eyes. For more information on preparing to remove mold in your home, click here.
#5 If something indoors gets wet, the typical timeframe to dry is 24-48 hours, then mold begins to grow.
This emphasizes the importance of controlling moisture in your home. Mold does not grow or reproduce unless it has a moist environment in which to settle. After 48 hours , a wet indoor area produces the perfect conditions for mold to start growing.
#6 Indoor humidity should be kept below 60%, preferably 40% or lower.
If a surface becomes wet, the only saving grace, other than cleaning it up, is low humidity. There are relatively inexpensive humidity meters that can be purchased at hardware stores, so you can find out what the humidity level is in your home. You can control the humidity in your home by using the air conditioner, or a dehumidifier. You can check out some of them on our tools and supplies page.
#7 Since dead mold can also cause health problems, mold must be killed and removed.
Killing mold with a detergent or bleach is only half the battle. People can be sensitive to mold spores, dead or alive. It is important to remove the spores. If the mold has been growing in a porous surface, it is probably best to remove the entire section of the affected area. After cleaning a hard non porous surface, promptly wash the brush or any towels used to dry up the area. Use disposable supplies when possible.
#8 All molds can cause health problems. Some are more severe than others, depending on the type of mold and the sensitivity of the person.
There are thousands of difference mold species, and few of them are toxic to humans. The bottom line is to act quickly and protect yourself from exposure when dealing with mold. Using good judgment, such as tip #3 above, and knowing when to call a professional is key to keep you and your family safe. To learn more about molds and how to detect them, check out our mold information pages.
#9 Painting or caulking over mold will not solve the problem
Ah, the ever-primal tendency to just cover it up. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Sorry. Painting over mold will like cause the paint to peel, revealing the insidious mold once again. Mold will also creep its way out from behind the caulking as well. The best defense is a good offense. Don’t try to cover it up, take it head on. See our tips on cleaning up mold.
#10 Bleach may be used for mold cleanup, but is not recommended by the EPA.
Instead, scrub mold with a detergent and water, and let the surface dry.
Bleach is a powerful substance that kills pretty much anything that comes in contact with it, including mold. Using it regularly, however, is not recommended by the EPA. If the detergent you use is not doing the trick, you can try the bleach. Some tips on using bleach can be seen here. Never mix bleach with an ammonia product, it will cause a chemical reaction that releases toxic fumes.