Mildew, mold, and other types of fungi that invade your home or place of business are often related to ambient moisture. This could be from something like high humidity, a leaking pipe, a damp basement crawl space, or something as simple as failing to use the ventilation system in your bathroom and kitchen.
There are also less conspicuous forms of moisture, such as condensation inside of walls around cold water pipes, or cracks in the foundation behind the walls of a finished basement. Even something as seemingly minor as a loose gutter or a roof leak that pools up in your attic can create a prime environment for mold to grow.
If they are left unchecked mildew and mold can eventually become a very costly and even a hazardous problem. As time goes on mold spores can gradually start to damage wall boards, they can also discolor tiles, gradually degrade carpeting, damage window frames and even cause a structural problem in your home.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that mold, especially so-called “Toxic Mold” can make you sick. Symptoms can vary depending on the type or types of mold infesting the indoor environment, as well as the severity of the problem, and any existing health problems you or your family members might have.
Early symptoms of a mold problem are a serious cause for concern and might include:
- Increased asthma attacks
- New or worsening respiratory allergies
- Skin allergies and rashes
- Difficulty breathing
- Intestinal discomfort
You should be particularly suspicious if you find your symptoms improving when you leave the house or you are gone from that environment for an extended amount of time. Many people who are reacting to the presence of mold in their home will notice their symptoms going away or significantly decreasing when they go on vacation, only to have the problem worsen shortly after they return home.
If a mold problem is allowed to persist in an indoor environment it can lead to more significant health problems, as well as inflammation issues. Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, which is also known as CIRS, is a well-known biotoxin illness, that is especially problematic for genetically-susceptible individuals.
Stopping And Preventing Mold
Mold needs a variety of things to survive and thrive in your indoor environment. This can include things like a porous surface to take root in, sufficiently warm temperatures, and a minimal amount of nutrient material. What it needs most is moisture!
You see mildew and mold spores are found everywhere in nature. It’s nearly impossible to prevent them from invading your home from time to time. Major incidents like a regional flood that affects your home, heavy rains that flood the basement, or a major roof leak caused by a severe storm are all obvious ways for moisture to be introduced to the interior of your home. There are some people who believe that mold can’t affect their home environment unless something dramatic like this occurs.
Unfortunately, this is far from reality! Mold doesn’t need a lot of water to establish a presence and reproduce. Even something as seemingly mundane as high humidity or failing to use your bathroom fan when you take a shower can potentially introduce enough moisture for mold spores to establish a foothold.
Mold essentially just needs an available source of moisture to settle on. Since the spores are microbes that are too see with your naked eye, you won’t be able to notice them until they have established a colony presence! Once the spore bond with moisture, they can multiply very quickly, making them not only visible in the large numbers. At that point, they start to release more spores as well as other potential airborne toxins.
The Mold Germination Process
Once a previously airborne mold spore settles on a sufficiently moist surface, it hydrates and starts to absorb nutrients from the surrounding environment. This is essentially what allows them to multiply.
Different types of mold prefer different nutrients and materials. Some of the more common and even preferred include:
- Paper and other cellulose materials
- Damp fabric
- Foods like fruits, vegetables, and bread
To be able to digest these nutrients the fledgling mold spores must go through a chemical reaction where volatile organic compounds are released. This often comes in the form of microscopic doses of vaporous toxins that are released into the surrounding atmosphere.
Some of the mycotoxins do little more than produce a musty smell. Yet there are some mycotoxins that can make people very sick, especially those who are genetically susceptible to Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
Preventing And Eliminating Moisture Problems
There are many ways to reduce the amount of available moisture in your home. The methods that are right for you will depend on the factors causing the problem. Any home repairs need to be made, this might include fixing the leaky roof, replacing the shingles, replacing the gutters, having a plumber repair a leaky pipe, or even removing wallpaper that has been infested by mold.
There are also some simple habits you can adopt around the house.
- Use the range hood any time you cook
- Use the bathroom vent when you shower or take a bath
- Make sure that wet clothing is laundered as soon as possible
- Use a dehumidifier rated for the appropriate square footage of your house
Once you reduce the available moisture level in your home the linger mold spores will lack the water needed to effectively absorb nutrients. This also means they won’t be able to multiply or release further mycotoxins into the air. It effectively renders them harmless.
Yet, you shouldn’t be lulled into thinking that the mold spores are dead. In a certain light, mold spores never truly die, they simply become dormant as they wait for moisture levels and warmth to return. Once moisture becomes available again, they can simply reactivate and start the germination process all over again.
Eliminating Dormant Mold From Your Home
The type of surface the mold has infested will strongly influence the necessary method of remediation. In the case of carpets and fabrics, they might be steam cleaned with an oxygenated cleaner. However, you may have to completely remove and dispose of them.
Walls might be washed with multiple applications of a cleaning solution that is 4 parts dimethyl ammonium chloride and one 1 part of water. Followed by brushing on a solution of 3 parts disodium octaborate tetrahydrate with two parts of glycol.
In the case of a more severe mold problem, especially if it has damaged a structural component of your home, you should strongly consider seeking out a professional mold remediation service.