Mold and mildew are commonly found in homes but they are not a welcome guest. In fact, mold and mildew in your home have been linked with a variety of health issues. It’s worth noting that the health issues will not be experienced by everyone, some people have no issue with mold!
If you’re sensitive to mold you’re likely to get red and itchy eyes, a blocked-up nose, coughing and wheezing, and you may even develop a rash. In short, it will get into your respiratory tract and make you sound and feel like you have a heavy cold or a bad case of asthma. For most people that’s not a serious issue. But, if you already have allergies it can be life-threatening.
Mold & Mildew Damages Homes
It’s not just your health that is a concern. Mold and mildew need moisture to survive and flourish. If mold is present then so is moisture. You’ll need to find the cause of the moisture and eliminate it. If you don’t the moisture will penetrate the fabric of your building.
It can rot wood, making it weak and unable to support your home. Moisture can also penetrate walls, causing the cement to fail and potentially causing weakness in the walls.
Of course, moisture also attracts pests as they need warmth, moisture, and food to survive. When you have a moist home you’re offering these pests the perfect conditions to stay with you. Unfortunately, many of the pests that visit will carry diseases that can complicate your health matters further.
The simple fact is you need to prevent moisture from getting into your home, this will ensure you don’t have mold and the associated issues.
Fortunately, there are five simple steps you can take to help you achieve this.
Mold needs moisture to flourish. Moisture can come from a leak in your home or rise from the ground under it. The ground under your home will contain moisture as it is earth and below this the water table. However, in most modern houses a damp proof membrane should have been laid to prevent this moisture from rising into the home.
This doesn’t prevent warm air from coming under your home. The warmer the air the more capable it is of carrying moisture. If the air is trapped under your home it will heat up and create moisture. With no way for the moisture to escape it will attach itself to your home, specifically the wooden floor.
The best way of dealing with this warm air under your home is to cool it. For that, you need a good underfloor ventilation system. The principle is that cool air is brought into the space under your floor, pushing the warm air out. This effectively removes the moisture and prevents mold and mildew from having the chance to attack your home.
A good underfloor system will either push cool air in or pull the warm air out. There will need to be two ventilation points as the air needs to move in and out of the building.
The great thing about this type of system is that it requires minimal maintenance. The ventilation system will use a fan which will need to be serviced regularly. Other than this, you just need to ensure the vent openings stay clear.
Alongside ventilating under the floor you should consider the temperature inside your home. The warmer the air gets the easier it is for mold to collect. This often happens in the corners of your rooms. To help prevent this you need airflow through your house. That means opening a window periodically.
2. Seal The Building
It may sound strange when we’ve just talked about the importance of airflow, but you also need to seal your building. This means adding a waterproof coating to your floors and walls. The coating is designed to prevent water from getting into your home. The less water that gets in the easier it will be to keep mold away.
You should note that many waterproof coatings are still breathable, allowing your building to breathe and stay healthy!
Sealing your building protects it from water ingress and can actually help to strengthen it, preventing costly issues that need to be dealt with.
There are many different products that can be used to seal your home. However, you should take the time to find the one that is most suitable for the area you’re treating. They are designed to work best on different materials, such as wood, or stone. Choosing the right product and follow the instructions will ensure it is effective.
3. Use Antimicrobial Products
Another effective way of eliminating any existing mold and preventing it from returning is to use antimicrobial products. These cleaning products can be sprayed directly on some surfaces and need to be diluted in water for other areas. You’ll want to check the instructions on the product you’ve chosen.
You can use them when washing walls, floors, and any other part of your home. They will prevent a variety of microbes from breeding in your home, including keeping mold and mildew at bay.
Don’t forget that showers and bathrooms are particularly prone to mold thanks to the heat and steam of constant hot water usage. It’s important to use an antimicrobial cleaner in these areas regularly. You should also keep them ventilated as much as possible.
Finally, if you’re considering new flooring or soft furnishings you should note that many products now come with antimicrobials built into them. For instance, many modern carpets and carpet tiles have antimicrobial backs. This means they have a chemical that will prevent mold from being able to develop, effectively giving you peace of mind.
4. Check For Leaks
We’ve mentioned how moisture, which is essential for mold growth, can be the result of a leak. It’s time you checked your home to eliminate this possibility. The easiest first step is to turn off all your water appliances and take a meter reading. Leave it for a couple of hours without using any water and then check the meter again.
If it’s moved, you have a leak and you’re going to need to find it and fix it. In many cases, leaks develop at pipe joints but these can be hidden in walls. You may need the services of a professional plumber to track down the issue and resolve it for you.
It’s also possible to visually inspect your home. Damp patches or water stain marks on floors, walls, and ceilings need to be looked into further. They are usually a sign of an issue.
Alongside checking your water supply you also need to inspect the outside of your home. A leaking roof can allow water into the loft space, creating moisture in the ceiling and mold in the top corners of your home. Equally, blocked gutters can allow water to cascade down your walls. This moisture can penetrate the walls and cause mold on your internal walls.
It’s worth taking a look at the exterior of your home and looking in the loft to ensure you don’t have an issue. Of course, should you find a problem the quicker you fix it, the better.
5. Add Damp Proofing
If you have a modern home then your subfloor should have been built with a damp proofing membrane. However, it can be damaged or perish over time. Older homes may not have had the membrane to start with.
If this is the case then damp will rise up through the ground and into your floor. You’ll be able to see it in your basement or as damp patches on a concrete floor.
It is best to get the professionals in to help with this piece of the puzzle. They’ll know the most effective way of adding a membrane to your property without knocking it down and rebuilding.
Eliminating the potential for moisture to get under and then into your home is essential if you want to prevent mold and mildew from forming in your home.
The presence of mold and mildew in your home does not signify you don’t keep your house clean enough. It is simply a confirmation that moisture is present and needs to be dealt with.
The good news is that, if you eliminate the moisture you’ll eliminate the mold. Considering moisture creates a variety of other issues, such as weakening the structure of the house and inviting pests, the sooner you tackle the issue the better.
Don’t forget, antimicrobial cleaners eliminate the mold but that doesn’t mean they’ve eliminated the moisture. It’s worth stopping the antimicrobial cleaner periodically to see if mold develops. This will allow you to identify the underlying issue and deal with it.
It may take a little effort to eliminate moisture and the current mold problem. But, once you’ve eliminated it using the above methods, you’ll be able to relax and know that it won’t come back.
By Jesse Huges