Five Ways to Prevent the Spread of Mold
by Ted Ricasa on Feb 14, 2014
It’s difficult to say why so many people choose to treat mold problems as a minor inconvenience instead of as a destructive, potentially deadly growth. When asked about mold, they may think only of the white, splotchy growth that appears on old cheese. Others justify their apathy by pointing out that molds are everywhere outdoors, where they don’t seem to cause problems. True, most outdoor molds do not pose serious risks to your health. The mold that grows in your home, on the other hand, can lead to serious allergic reactions and can cause irritation in your eyes, lungs, and throats. If a member of your household has a respiratory condition such as asthma, mold can cause the problem to worsen. Given the very real threats that come with these growths, removal and preventive measures warrant your immediate action.
A Two-Part Process: Removal and Prevention
You have two options for mold removal—tackle the project yourself, or bring in outside assistance. If you have health problems or have large areas that require treatment, paying a professional is a worthy investment. Should you decide to go it alone, you should observe certain safety guidelines:
· Wear a face mask; an N-95 (or similar) respirator is ideal to keep out airborne molds.
· Never touch mold or moldy items with your bare hands. If using a mixture of water and mild detergent, plain rubber gloves are adequate. For cleaning solutions that contain chlorine bleach or disinfectants, opt for heavy-duty gloves in nitrile, PVC, natural rubber, or polyurethane.
· Protective goggles should be worn at all times.
Before you begin cleaning, identify and repair the source of problematic moisture. If you do not address this problem immediately, all your hard work and cleaning efforts may be in vain. The extent and severity of mold infestation determines the appropriate cleaning solution. For small mold removal projects, a mixture of household detergent and water is usually sufficient. Larger, more intense projects require a stronger formula of bleach or a similar disinfectant. Scrub the contaminated areas with a heavy-duty pad or scraper, using a clean cloth to wipe dry the freshly cleaned surfaces. Determine whether the contaminated material is salvageable. Porous materials, such as carpets, rugs, and ceiling tiles, are usually considered unsalvageable and must be discarded promptly.
Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home
While mold removal is an arduous task, preventing it is much easier and less time-consuming:
1. Safely dispose of all cleaning materials and contaminated items after your mold removal project. For example, you wouldn’t want to just toss soggy, mold-infested rags into your kitchen garbage can. Place all items in a heavy-duty garbage bag, seal the bag, and either take it to a landfill or have your waste disposal company pick it up with the rest of your garbage.
2. Improve airflow in your home to prevent condensation. Whenever possible, leave windows and doors open to bring in fresh air and avoid the stuffy, stagnant atmosphere that promotes mold growth. If the outside temperature makes opening doors and windows impractical, use fans instead.
3. Ensure that all moisture-producing appliances have proper ventilation leading outdoors. These include your stove, washer, dryer, and kerosene heaters. Otherwise, water vapor from the appliance will fill the air, creating a more humid environment.
4. Periodically check for new mold growth, especially in areas that were previously contaminated. You will be more likely to notice and take action when you know which parts of your home are most susceptible to mold problems. You can also catch problems before they become so severe that professional intervention is necessary.
5. Create an inhospitable environment for mold by reducing humidity levels throughout your home. Take note of whether condensation forms on your pipes or windows. If so, humidity levels are higher than ideal. As a rule, humidity should remain below 60% at all times.
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