Monday, October 17, 2016

Scott Says... Help Yourself Breathe Easier

Help Yourself Breathe Easier: 9 Tips to Banish Mold from the Home

If you live in Oregon, you know how moist it can get inside your home throughout the year.  Mold can be present in many homes, and often can be present in the attic, bathrooms, and basement. In many cases, the mold found in Oregon homes is a non-toxic variety, but it’s presence may still cause runny noses, sneezing, and offensive odors for some people. No matter the type of mold found, you will want to eliminate it from your home to ensure a healthy environment and to maintain the structural integrity of your home.

How do you find the mold in your home? Sometimes it’s easy—it may be right in front of you and you can visibly see it, or you may be able to find it by its distinctly musty smell. Though it’s harder to find hidden mold, you can do so by looking behind and beneath fixed materials and appliances: refrigerators, dishwashers, sink cabinets, washer/dryers, carpets, vinyl flooring—areas where water flows or where air doesn’t penetrate readily. Also, look for signs of staining or discoloration on walls and ceilings; this can denote a moisture buildup behind which mold may lurk.

If mold is found, it can generally be easily remediated such that it will no longer be a problem. But remediation alone is not always enough.  Here are some tips to help you control the likelihood of mold in your home.

Follow these 9 tips to reduce the presence of mold in your home:
  1. If you've lived in your home for several years and haven't had a recent home inspection, considering having a home inspector check out your attic and crawl space for the presence of mold that may have accumulated since you purchased the home.
  2. Call in a professional to assess water-damaged areas due to bathtub overflows, broken pipes, leaky roofs, etc.
  3. Keep humidity low. Use of a de-humidifier may be necessary to keep humidity levels between 30% and 50% to prevent condensation on building materials.
  4. Replace any carpets and furniture that have ever been significantly damaged (i.e. saturated in water), even if they look OK on the outside.
  5. Carpet in the bathroom or basement? Don't even think about it. There was a time when builders installed carpeting in bathrooms in front of the sinks, around toilets, and sometimes in front of the shower.  it's time to get rid of it.
  6. Use an air conditioner during the summer and fans to keep the air circulating.
  7. Ensure your home has sufficient roof ventilation - roof vents and soffit vents - to keep air moving throughout the attic space.
  8. Provide adequate ventilation in hot areas. The kitchen and bath are two of the highest-risk rooms for mold. Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and be sure to use them!
  9. Don't neglect areas underneath the house.  Have a professional drainage contractor evaluate your crawl space for the presence of water and adequate ventilation.  Water in a crawl space can evaporate through the home and get caught in the attic, creating a ripe environment for mold formation.
The most important tip is to fix the underlying issue - eliminate as many causes and sources of mold as possible.  Mold is not the problem.  It's an indicator of a moisture problem.  You can get rid of the mold, but if you don't address the leaky pipes, high humidity and water intrusion, the mold will come back.    

Scott Says... contributed by Scott Wagar, Scott Wagar Home Inspections

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