“There’s no place like home.” – Mold.
Mold grows anywhere there’s moisture. And that means? There’s no better place than Schuylkill County, PA.
Our rainfall averages 10” higher than the national average. Every year we see the stuff shutting down facilities and derailing school openings. And a quick google search will show you no shortage when it comes to mold testing and removal companies in our area.
So why do so many homeowners still think mold is something that happens to “someone else”?
“Someone who doesn’t take care of their home.” “Someone who doesn’t keep things clean.” Or “Someone with an older house or too much furniture or a basement that floods every spring.” The list goes on.
The truth is: mold can happen to anyone. Especially in soggy Pennsylvania.
- breaks apart three myths that keep homeowners from making smart decisions about their house
- Equips you with simple, preventative tools to help you steer away from big mold issues that require professional clean-up
- and gives you insight into how your next home improvement project can be designed to withstand the wet weather in Pennsylvania.
By the way, this is Part Two in a series surrounding healthy homes. If you’d like to start at the beginning, click here to learn more on how to tell if your house is making your family sick here.
Just looking for information on mold? You’ve come to the right place. Read on.
Not Thinking About Mold? Don’t Worry.
Never really thought about mold….until it was a problem?
You aren’t alone.
Your home already commands a lot of your time and attention. Even as a contractor, fitting in time to keep the lawn mowed and the yard picked up after storms is tough to fit in.
Unless something big happens- like a flooded basement or a storm-damaged roof- most people just aren’t thinking about mold.
It’s the type of problem that creeps up on people. But let me be the first to say: discovering you have mold is nothing to be embarrassed about. It doesn’t mean you’ve not taken care of your home or done something wrong.
Let me help you break through some common misconceptions- and show you how to build back better on your next home improvement project.
Myth #1: My Home Doesn’t Have Mold
Your home might not have a mold problem, but all homes have mold.
Mold is a natural part of our environment, indoors and out. It doesn’t matter how expensive your house is, everyone has the makings of a mold problem hiding in your home.
The good news? Mold itself isn’t a problem.
It’s only when its concentration becomes higher inside than out that it creates a health risk.
Unfortunately, mold loves to grow inside.
Here’s the takeaway:
Mold thrives on three things: the right temperature, food, and moisture.
Two of three are near impossible to control in your home. Any temperature on your thermostat you find comfortable is going to be a perfect environment for growth. And as far as food? Mold doesn’t need much to thrive. Even a small amount of dust and dander will do.
Moisture, or humidity, is the key to keeping your home healthy. We’ll talk more about moisture control at the end of this article. For now, here’s the second mold myth…
Myth #2: Black Mold is Dangerous
Did you know you can’t tell what type of mold is growing in your home by color alone?
That’s right. That ‘black mold’ you just discovered in your bathroom might be black…but it isn’t necessarily toxic!
Mold’s color comes from what it’s metabolized…not the species. Only expert testing can tell you if your home has Stachybotrys chartarum (or Stachybotrys atra, the type of mold people typically mean when they say “toxic black mold”.)
So there is a bright side: if you do find mold in your home, most molds are allergenic rather than toxic. This means while some people are more sensitive to indoor mold, most of the time exposure won’t lead to a hospital trip.
If you take care of the problem as soon as you find it, your chances of experiencing long-term health problems are minimal.
The takeaway is this: if you find mold, or a problem that could lead to mold growth like a leak under the sink, don’t panic- but don’t wait. Quick response will save you from expensive professional remediation and remodeling.
Myth #3: My New Home is Safe from Mold.
False. New Homes Are More At Risk Than Old Homes.
The thought of indoor mold might conjure up memories of your great aunt’s musty basement, abandoned buildings, and damp old houses. But that stereotype isn’t all true. The “creepy abandoned home” trope can blind homeowners into thinking that, if they buy new construction, they won’t have to worry about mold.
Every year homeowners in “new” homes file millions of dollars in insurance claims due to mold damage. It’s unfortunate, but not completely their fault. They just didn’t think they needed to worry about mold and miss the early warning signs that could’ve saved them from the trouble.
The more efficient a building is, the less natural ventilation (or ‘breathability’) the construction. This means if you don’t have great ventilation systems and practices in place to make up for the reduced airflow, your environment is actually more likely to be at risk for mold!
We’ll talk more about how to reduce your risk when building a new home, an addition, or updating your home here in a minute.
The Smart Homeowner’s Guide to Mold Prevention
Last month, we talked about how poor ventilation is the #1 cause of building related illnesses.
And, it makes sense. Homes without proper ventilation trap moisture, which leads to mold growth.
So how do you keep your home safe from mold? Here are three basic checks and best practices for keeping your home’s humidity level in-check.
#1. Reduce Your Risk For Zero Dollars…
Remember earlier when we talked about new homes experiencing more mold issues than older homes? While we love materials that focus on efficiency and reduce utilities costs…they can cause a problem when it comes to mold.
So how about a tip for preventing mold that’s 100% free? Ready?
Turn your HVAC on “fan” only and….open your windows! Bring some fresh air in. Simple as that.
Getting air circulating is going to relive your indoor air of musty smells, mold count build-up, and carbon dioxide levels (a big factor for mold risk in your most occupied rooms).
Even just doing this once a week while you’re out running errands or at work can make an enormous difference on the indoor air quality in your home.
#2. Your Basement’s Secret Weapon: A Dehumidifier
Has it been one of those weeks where the rain just won’t stop? Do you have condensation building up on your basement pipes or ducts? You need a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers are also great for rooms that seem to collect moisture, like laundry rooms. Plus, if you don’t want to add another thing to your to-do list- especially emptying a dehumidifier- you can use a hose to drain it directly into a wash sink or a floor drain.
Dehumidifiers are great for seasonal humidity, think muggy summers or rainy springs.
#3. Your Seasonal Exterior Check-Up
It’s easy to take your home’s exterior for granted. But your roof and siding? They work hard to protect you against the elements. Checking up on them a couple of times a year is critical to getting ahead of big fixes.
What does that have to do with mold? Moisture control isn’t just about keeping moisture from building up from internal sources, you’ve also got to keep outside water outside.
The EPA lists roof and gutters as one of the most important factors for protecting your indoor air quality. An unequipped home exterior is a door to mold growth.
Not comfortable with getting out a ladder and climbing up on your roof? Not sure what to look for? We can help! Schedule a free consult call with us today. We use drone technology to safely evaluate and photograph of potential problems.
How We Build Healthy Homes
Imagine spending $20k on a new roof only to discover in three years that it’s trapping moisture in your attic.
It happens more often than you’d expect! Most contractors are experts in their materials. But not everyone has the same “whole house” mindset we do at Martin. When we install a roof or replace your siding, we think about how our system ties into a home’s breathability as a whole.
Well, we’ve seen firsthand how installations that ignore airflow can cause major headaches for homeowners. We want your home to feel safe, which to us means repairs and replacements that are stress free for decades.
That’s why we make sure all of our bids go above and beyond, taking into consideration the age and build of your home so you can count on complete peace of mind with your install.
Do you have a leaky roof or damaged siding that’s putting your home at risk for mold? Our repairs come with the same peace-of-mind as our replacements. When we bid a project, we’re completely upfront when it comes to what you can expect- and what options you have to prevent future problems.
If you or someone in your home is sensitive to mold, has a mold allergy, or has an illness from previous exposure, you need to be sure your home improvements are made with your health in mind. Schedule your free consult call here to talk with Vern.
Want to learn more about Sick Building Syndrome? Here’s a great resource. Coming soon: look for our upcoming article Why You Need a Healthy Roof.
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