Mold often hides out of sight in homes. Exposure to mold in residences has caused illness in people and pet animals and has done billions of dollars in damage to building interior finishes and structures, requiring professional treatment by mold abatement contractors. Mold has also destroyed countless amounts of furniture, décor, and other personal possessions. Beyond the most likely locations, such as basements, crawl spaces, and bathroom corners, there are some less obvious spots that should be routinely checked for mold.
What Causes Mold?
Mold needs several things in order to flourish in an area of a home — the right temperature range, sufficient moisture, and a food source. The good news is that most of your home likely provides a poor habitat for mold to thrive. It's those areas that tend to be darker and moister that make good breeding places for mold.
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Where is Mold Most Likely to Grow, and What Can I Do About It?
When you check for mold growth in your home, start with the most common places that mold develops in homes, such as these areas:
With changing temperatures, moisture from humidity and condensation, seeping through the roof or vents, a home's attic is a haven for mold. Paper items, boxes, and other materials stored in attics are good food sources for mold, and accumulated dust in a musty attic with little air circulating is ideal for mold spores.
What to do? Perform regular checks of your attic for signs of mold. Ensure sufficient ventilation to keep air circulating in the attic. Have your roof inspected periodically, and have any roof leaks repaired urgently, no matter how small.
Basements are naturally cooler than the ground floor of a house, because they're underground. When moisture enters the basement through small cracks and other tiny accesses around the foundation, or through basement windows or doors, humidity in the basement air promotes mold.
What to do? Periodically inspect your basement for mold. Check for any hairline cracks along basement walls and around access openings. Ensure adequate ventilation and air circulation.
Bathrooms are notorious for promoting mold. It's typically the smallest room in the house, and it's fair to say it's likely to have the highest amount of humidity saturating the environment per cubic inch, due to showering, flushing, and running hot water in the sink. When ventilation is lacking, serious mold issues can emerge.
What to do? Check frequently for evidence of mold under and behind sinks, behind and on the underside of the toilet, around shower bases and in tile grouts, along plumbing pipes, and even under stored bath linens. Ensure excellent ventilation, and strong exhaust fans are used during showers.
Condensation on plumbing pipes, humidity from cooking, dust particles for food, and the right temperatures promote mold in kitchens. Behind, under, and inside the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, or other large or small appliances that use water are common areas for mold growth.
What to do? Clean all sides of kitchen appliances and fixtures frequently, clean inside those that use water, ensure proper ventilation, and especially use exhaust fans during cooking or heavy water use.
Window sills and frames are exposed to condensation and may not be exposed to adequate airflow except when windows are open during warm temperatures. Dirt accumulates in crevices along the frames and on sills, providing the preferred food for mold spores to flourish.
What to do? Wipe windows and frames thoroughly, to remove condensation. Clean window tracks and hardware. Open windows and clean between glass and screens, if applicable to remove dirt as a food source for mold.
Drywall exposed to a lot of moisture and dust in the interior atmosphere may be susceptible to mold growth. For wall-papered surfaces, it can be difficult to determine if mold exists behind paper. The likelihood of mold behind wallpaper depends on climate, building quality, usage, and other factors.
What to do? Use mold-resistant primer or other surface treatment for mold prevention on decorative wallpaper. If mold exists, remove and replace wallpaper. If there's more than a small amount of mold, you'll need to have a mold abatement professional remove the contaminated material and sterilize the wall space.
Typically, window air conditioning filters and even whole-home HVAC systems with better filters are not entirely effective in capturing dirt from outside a home. Unless your home has a high-end system with a HEPA filter, the air in your air conditioner probably contains enough dust to feed mold spores. The condensation that results from cooling the air, along with ideal temperatures promotes mold growth.
What to do? Running your AC unit for at least 10 minutes each day can help avoid mold growth. During the off-season, store the equipment in a dry space. For a window air conditioner or a whole-house air conditioning system with mold, contact a professional to remove the mold and sanitize the equipment.
Cooking, showering and running water in sinks, wet pets, wet feet, spills, humidifiers, window and fixture condensation from changing temperatures, and blown-in moisture from doorways all add moisture to carpets. Add dirt and the typical household temperatures to rugs, and mold thrives.
What to do? Keep carpet cleans. Vacuum a minimum of once weekly, and have carpets cleaned routinely, to help prevent mold spores from proliferating in your carpet.
Whole-House Solutions to Mold Growth
Condensation occurs during winter when cold outside air collides with warmer inside air at windows, doors, various inlets, and even along under-insulated walls. Snowmelt that lays for days or weeks against a house, saturating some areas of inadequately protective exterior walls can also bring in moisture that leads to mold in the basement or around the foundation of a home.
To help prevent mold growth due to winter conditions:
- Caulk to block air leaks and moisture entering your home.
- Use a dehumidifier, especially in areas susceptible to moisture.
- Upgrade wall insulation, to current R-Values determined by the US Department Of Energy for your climate, and home construction type and size.
- Maintain interior humidity at around 60% or lower. Keep humidifiers clean.
- Wipe condensation from doors, windows, vent covers, plumbing pipes, and other areas with persistent heavy condensation.
- Reverse ceiling fan direction, to push air upward, vs. downward, to help prevent condensation from building up on the ceiling and upper walls.
- Check ceilings, walls, floors, corners, closets, under furniture, and under stored items in infrequently used spaces. Have a professional mold inspection periodically.
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We serve customers from our numerous locations throughout Utah. For more information about household mold prevention and elimination, search "Utah mold abatement in home ." Or, to discuss your needs with one of Utah's most efficient mold abatement companies, contact us at Utah Flood Cleanup by calling (801) 823-6637, for a free phone consultation.