Mold in the home environment is a growing concern for homeowners across the country. In addition to being a serious health hazard for the occupants of the home, the presence of mold can reduce or eliminate prospective buyer interest and be both difficult and expensive for homeowners to deal with.
Thousands of Species of Mold Exist Throughout the Environment
Mold issues in the home are nothing new, although many of the health concerns that surround it are just now becoming known. Mold is a fungus that can flourish anywhere that spores have access to moisture, oxygen and a food source, such as cellulose.
Potential Health Risks Associated with Mold Exposure
While there are literally thousands of different types of mold, ranging from harmless, to allergenic, to toxic, Stachybotrys chartarum, sometimes known as Stachybotrys atra is an example of a relatively common mold type known to be capable of causing potentially serious health risks.
While mold-related illnesses can affect anyone, infants, children, and elderly persons may be more seriously affected. In addition, people who are already dealing with a respiratory condition or allergies are also at higher risk, as are those who have a compromised immune system from another illness or condition.
Continuous exposure to mold has been found to cause serious health risks, including cancer, neurotoxicity, pulmonary issues, endocrine and renal issues, and problems with pregnancy, as well as many others.
Common Home Surfaces Supply Food for Mold Growth
Although mold spores are present throughout the environment, be it in Southwest Edmonton or elsewhere, conditions in a home or structure often allow the mold to grow out of control. This is because the average home offers many cellulose-rich surfaces capable of feeding the mold, such as drywall, wood, plywood, construction glue, particle board, ceiling tiles, and wood or wood-composite cabinetry and trim. If a moisture or humidity issue develops inside the home, mold growth will result in these areas and spread quickly.
Moisture Allows Mold to Flourish in the Home
A leaky pipe or toilet, an unrepaired roof leak, poor ventilation in bathrooms, and moisture left behind from flooding are just a few of the ways in which mold spores are able to get the moisture they need to flourish and become an infestation. Since many of the leaks and moisture issues that develop in homes and other structures are located in areas that are not easily visible, such as basements, attics, and within walls, they can go unnoticed for long periods of time. By the time the leak or moisture issue has seeped into a living area and been discovered by the occupants, a sizable mold problem may have already become well-established.
DIY Mold Cleanup Information
Homeowners who discover a mold problem within their home or in another structure on their property should carefully consider the following factors when assessing the problem and deciding on the best method of handling it. These factors are:
- The type surface on which the mold is growing
- The level of mold growth (heavy or light)
- The approximate size of the affected area
If the mold is growing on non-porous surface that can be easily cleaned and sanitized, such as tile or painted wood, homeowners may be able to handle the removal themselves. A solution of household bleach and water can remove visible mold from some surfaces. After scrubbing, these surfaces must be dried completely and any moisture issues corrected to prevent a recurrence of mold growth.
However, if the mold is growing on a porous surface or there is a large infestation, the surface will likely need to removed and replaced. This is especially true when mold is growing on drywall, ceiling tiles, carpets, or other surfaces capable of absorbing moisture that will be allow mold to regrow easily.
Homeowners who have a small mold problem and want to try a DIY approach should remember the cleaning process will disturb mold spores that can cause health risks. When working in an area where mold is present, homeowners should always wear appropriate face masks, eye protection, gloves, and should take care to cover exposed skin.
Additionally, it is a good idea to turn off any HVAC units while doing the clean up, to prevent mold spores from being drawn into the heating and cooling system of the home. Once the mold has been completely removed, homeowners should change out furnace filters and vacuum HVAC vents and living areas thoroughly to remove as many mold spores as possible.
Proper Handling of Serious Mold Problems
Mold infestations that are large, hard to access, or will require significant remodeling to address should be handled by a mold removal specialist. This type of situation is common after homes have had flood damage, had a plumbing or sewer pipe break, or other issues that allowed flooring, walls, or ceilings to become saturated.
Disclosing Past Mold Problems to Buyers
Homeowners who plan on selling their home should always opt to disclose any serious issues, including mold. When presented in a factual way, along with documented proof of what steps were taken to address the problem, this type of information is not likely to cause issues with selling the home.
When sellers do not disclose past mold problems, evidence of it may still arise during the buyer inspection phase or if a buyer decides to check readily available public records, such as building permits.
Homeowners who are preparing to sell their home and have concerns or questions about a current or past mold issue should discuss the matter with their listing agent well before putting the home on the market. Their agent will be able to help them find the answers or assistance they need to move forward.
By Justin Havre