Have you noticed a strange pungent odor in your home lately? Perhaps you have been coughing, sneezing, or suffering from other allergy-related symptoms and can’t find the trigger? These can all be signs that your home has a mold problem. Before you condemn your home and call a demolition crew, here are a few tips for identifying a mold problem, treating it, and avoiding future issues.
Most mold experts agree that small amounts of mold are present in every home. However, large amounts of mold can cause hay fever symptoms and be particularly irritating to people with allergies, immune suppression, and asthma, according to the CDC.
Identifying Mold in Your Home
Mold growth is largely a side effect of a water issue in the home, such as a leaky appliance or excessive humidity. Contaminated areas can be easy to spot when the actual mold or water stains are visible. Other mold problems may take a little more investigation, as it may be lurking behind wallpaper, within drywall, near dripping faucets or pipes, and in other dark, damp hidden areas.
A mold testing kit is a convenient way to screen your home for difficult-to-find mold. Plus, these do-it-yourself kits provide a detailed report of the types and concentration levels of mold in your home as well as recommendations for treating the mold.
Removing the Mold
Now that you’ve identified the mold issue in your home, how do you get rid of it? If it’s the result of a leaky home appliance, fixing that leak is the natural starting point. A dehumidifier is a great way to control mold when excess moisture is the culprit.
Bleach solutions or other chemical cleaners are commonly used to remove mold, but these cleaning methods are not be ideal for people with chemical sensitivities or allergies. Looking for a chemical-free option? Try cleaning with dry steam vapor. Steam cleaners are great for safely removing mold from a variety of surfaces, including counter-tops, tile, upholstery, rugs, and hardwood floors. Vinegar is another effective all-natural solution for mold removal.
Always follow manufacturer instructions when you are cleaning, properly ventilate the area, and wear protective clothing (i.e., protective eye-wear, gloves, and a mask). Consult a mold remediation professional if the mold persists.
Keeping Mold Away
Once the mold has been removed, avoid it returning with these simple tips:
- Keep humidity levels low, especially during humid summer months, with a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
- Regularly inspect appliances for leaks and home interior for water damage.
- Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are properly ventilated.
- Use cleaning methods and solutions that inhibit mold growth.
- Use a HEPA air purifier to remove airborne mold and other irritants.
- Avoid line-drying clothes indoors, which encourages mold growth.
One of the best ways to stop mold and mildew growth is to keep your humidity levels down at appropriate levels (30-50%). A popular crawlspace and basement dehumidifier is the Energy Star-qualified Santa Fe Advance 2 Dehumidifier, which offers low-temperature operation, removes up to 90 pints of moisture a day, and covers up to 2,200 square feet. Santa Fe offers various top-of-the-line dehumidifiers, so check out Santa Fe dehumidifiers to see if one works for your space.
What are your tips for identifying or removing mold? We would love to hear from you! Share your ideas in the comments section below.