Mold: we don’t like to see it on our food, and we don’t like to find it on our walls. While molds are a necessary and productive part of the natural environment, when mold starts growing inside, it becomes a problem, as one of the top dangers to indoor air quality. In this month’s post we look at why mold grows, how it impacts our health and our homes, and what to do when you discover it indoors.
Where does mold come from?
Mold can grow on virtually any surface, whether it be wood, fabric, or paper. The key condition is the presence of moisture. Mold colonies can begin to grow on a damp surface within 24-48 hours if the moisture is not taken care of. As mold reproduces, it releases tiny spores that travel through the air and digest the organic materials where they land, continuing the spread. In its early stages, mold is known as mildew, and the best way to control the spread of spores is to discover and eliminate the source of the moisture. Completely eradicating all mold in an indoor environment is difficult, if not impossible, however by controlling moisture indoors, the spread can be contained, and mold can be kept to safe, minimal levels. The potential for mold growth should be taken into consideration when building and/or decorating. In areas where leaks or condensation are likely to occur on a regular basis, it is important to avoid placing surfaces made of organic materials—such as carpet—where mold is more likely to take hold.
Impacts of mold on health and home
Contact with mold—either by touching it or inhaling it—can provoke allergic reactions or cause asthma attacks. Symptoms often include:
aches and pains,
Allergic reactions may not occur immediately, but build up over time as the mold spreads, and repeated contact with it occurs. Mold is more likely to impact individuals who suffer from chronic respiratory disease or immune suppression, who may experience difficulty breathing. We often think of hay-fever or cold-like symptoms when we think of mold irritation, but in addition to the nose, throat, and lungs, mold can also irritate the eyes and skin.
Black mold is particularly toxic and can cause more serious health problems. Also known as Stachybotrys atra, black mold will greenish-black and slimy, and can look like tar. Black mold grows on materials that contain cellulose, such as wood or ceiling tiles, that remain damp for a prolonged period of time.
In addition to health risks, mold left untreated can do real damage to the house. As described above, mold feeds on organic materials, such as wood and carpet fibers, and if not cleaned up, the damage can become severe enough to eat through walls or floors and cause them to collapse. Without proper cleaning, mold can cause damage that becomes too severe to repair, so swift and decisive action is necessary whenever mold is discovered.
What to do when mold strikes
The first step to take when mold is discovered is to identify the source of moisture or dampness and take care of the issue immediately. Carpets or rugs that have been damp for more than 24 hours should be professionally cleaned or removed. A professional cleaning will include powerful extraction that not only gets out the mold, but also gets as much dampness out as possible, so that the carpet fibers are able to dry quickly.
You also want to thoroughly inspect the area around the mold and any other dampness you have encountered. Fix any leaks or add insulation to take care of condensation. Scrub hard surfaces with mold thoroughly with detergent and water, and make sure the area dries thoroughly. Absorbent surfaces, such as ceiling tiles, may need to be replaced or professionally cleaned. Mold spores can spread deep in the tiny holes and crevasses, making them difficult to remove. For carpets, rugs, or upholstery, consult with KleenRite to determine how severely the mold has spread and what options are available to clean the surfaces carefully.
Even if you have not experienced water damage or discovered visible mold colonies, you can still take steps to keep spores at bay and maintain air quality inside your home:
Clean and dry window frames and sills regularly
Clean ceiling fans and light fixtures at least monthly
Use washable rugs at doors to catch dust, pollen and soil, and wash rugs monthly.
Vacuum upholstered furniture regularly
Mop hard surface floors at least weekly.
Whether you have experienced a water emergency or simply would like reassurance that your space is healthy, our technicians are standing by to help. We offer a range of mold removal services and can provide a thorough evaluation and written proposal to help everyone in your home breathe easier.