Mold is a fungus like yeast and mushrooms that can be found both outdoors and indoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to three hundred thousand or more. It grows best in warm, damp and humid conditions and reproduces by dispersing spores.
Where to Find Mold
Outdoors, mold can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation are decomposing.
Indoors, mold is usually not a problem unless the spores find a wet or damp spot and begin to grow, including in basements and showers. Once they do, they produce allergens that trigger allergic reactions, irritants, and even toxic substances known as mycotoxins. These spores trigger the reactions when they are inhaled or touched directly by sensitive individuals.
Why Mold Grows in Homes
Mold is part of the natural environment and plays a big part in the decomposition of organic matter like dead trees and leaves. But mold growth indoors can be a big problem for property owners. The spores are invisible to the naked eye, but they float around in the air in search of moisture to start growing. There are many different types of mold, but all of them will require moisture to start growing on your building materials.
Health Issues Created by Mold
Some people are sensitive to molds. These reactions are a sign that you might have a problem.
People at risk are:
- Immune suppressed
- Those with allergies
- People undergoing chemotherapy
- Organ transplant recipients
- Worsening of asthma
- Increased incidence of upper respiratory tract irritation
- Hypersensitivity (rare) in susceptible persons
- Irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs
It’s common to experience reactions to mold, but they can be either immediate or delayed. While this guide provides a brief overview on mold, it does not explain the full details on its health effects to humans and pets. For more information, consult with your physician or local health department.
It’s never possible to remove all mold spores in homes because many are floating around in the air as dust. But the lack of moisture in the space is what keeps them from harming building materials and humans. This is why it’s important to control the humidity levels in your home.
The EPA states that areas of mold at 10 square feet or less can be cleaned by the homeowner. If you have more than 10 square feet of mold present, consider contacting a reputable mold remediation company for professional services.
Tips for Cleaning Up Mold
While a professional mold remediation specialist can handle large areas of mold, there are some tips and techniques you can use to handle a small mold cleanup project at home. Just know that some of these techniques may cause some staining and other cosmetic damage.
Check out these tips on mold cleanup:
- Fix water leaks and other sources of water damage. Dry all areas containing condensation.
- Use water and detergent to scrub all hard surfaces and dry right away.
- Porous materials like carpeting, drywall, and insulation may need to be removed if they contain mold. Know that mold can easily grow on the crevices and small holes of these surfaces, making them impossible to fully remove.
- Avoid exposing yourself to any mold growth, using protective gear such as a face mask, eye wear, and gloves before approaching any surfaces containing mold.
- Never paint or caulk over mold surfaces. Always remove the mold first and dry the area before painting, otherwise the paint is likely to peel.
- If you are unsure how to clean a particular item or surface, always consult with a mold removal professional. There are specialists that can restore furniture, contents, and building materials from mold as well as water damage.
Find further help with the Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.
Tips for Preventing Mold
The key to preventing mold is keeping moisture under control. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Act quickly when water spills indoors. Be sure that the area is dried within 24 – 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Ensure that the foundation is set on a small hill that allows water to flow away from the home and not collect in the crawlspace or basement.
- Clear away any debris from the drip pans and drain lines of the air conditioning unit.
- Keep the humidity levels low in the home, below 60 percent if possible.
- Repair and clean roof gutters and downspouts regularly
- Wipe down any walls, windows, pipes, and doors containing condensation and take steps to remove the source of the water. Keep in mind that these can be signs of high humidity levels.
Professional Mold Removal
It’s much easier to prevent mold than to remove it. This is why it’s important to ensure that humidity levels are kept low to prevent mold growth. Because the fungus loves to grow in dark, hidden areas like the crawlspace, attic, and basement, it can go unnoticed for long periods of time.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of mold in your home, don’t hesitate to contact your local mold remediation professionals. Our technicians at ServiceMaster Professional Services are IICRC-certified to provide mold remediation services in St. Cloud, MN and the surrounding areas.
When addressing mold growth, our technicians will first contain the affected area, preventing the mold from spreading, develop a remediation plan that is also sent to your insurance adjuster, and conduct full remediation to remove mold at the source. We will also apply anti-microbials to prevent it from returning in the future. Finally, any lingering odors from the mold and/or water damage are removed using advanced technology. This way you can expect complete peace of mind, not having to worry about it invading your property (provided that humidity levels are kept low).
Get a Free Estimate
To get started with the mold removal process on your property in St. Cloud, MN or the surrounding areas, contact ServiceMaster Professional Services at (800) 245-4622. We also provide free estimates for residential and commercial properties.