Posts Tagged ‘mold’
One of the most common resolutions people make every year is to take better care of their bodies, either by losing weight, quitting smoking or exercising more. Another resolution that may be easier to stick with is to better take care of your home! When you consider the amount of time your family spends at home, it makes total sense to give your home an annual physical to make sure you are doing what is needed to keep your home and your family healthy. HouseMaster has prepared a list of some basic items to check to help assist you in performing a “physical” on your home.
- Security Alarms/Detectors. Check all safety and security alarms. If tied into a monitoring system ensure all contact information is up to date.
- Smoke/Fire Alarms. These are your family’s first line of defense –warning you in the event of a fire/smoke emergency. Test all fire/smoke alarms regularly. Change the batteries at least annually. Set a regular date to change the batteries in all the units. Replace older units (after five years or as otherwise recommended by the manufacturer).
- CO Monitors. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless. A CO detector is the only way to identify elevated levels of CO in your home before physical injury occurs. If you don’t have CO monitors protecting your home from this toxic gas, you should act immediately and install them in strategic locations near the sleeping areas and other points recommended by the manufacturer or local officials. Check that presently installed units are operational and change batteries annually.
- Moisture and Mold. Mold spores abound in any home, but they need moisture and food to become a health threat. Most molds are toxic; however, any mold – and the cause of the mold – needs to be eliminated. The first step in minimizing the health effects from mold is to remove the moisture. Check major appliances and all plumbing fixtures for leaks. Look closely around and under showers, tubs, and any tilework. Don’t forget roof and exterior wall penetrations. The flashings at these areas often need to be resealed periodically. If mold is found, consider testing it to identify the type of mold and determine remediation options.
- Radon Testing. Radon gas is another odorless, colorless health hazard that could be lurking in your home. Testing is easy and inexpensive. Do it yourself test kits are available at most hardware stores. If elevated levels are found, the good news is a radon mitigation system can be installed to reduce the health threat and give you peace of mind.
Mold spores are present everywhere. Mold growth is most prolific in warm, damp weather, but high indoor moisture levels and poor ventilation can contribute to mold growth any time of year. To help reduce the potential for mold, provide adequate air circulation and reduce moisture levels in mold-prone areas, such as basements and storage areas.
Avoid storing items directly against walls in potentially damp areas, which restricts air circulation and trap moisture against surfaces. Also consider placing boxes and storage containers on blocks or pallets to allow for air flow.
Frequent air change will help control moisture levels and keep moisture and mold spores from building up. When outdoor weather is appropriate, promote air flow and air changes by using air circulating fans and/or opening the windows slightly. Dehumidifiers can help remove moisture from the air, but realize mold spores will remain. Problems may re-occur when moist conditions return.
When water leaks or spills occur indoors – act quickly. If wet or damp materials are removed or allowed to dry out within 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
Since prevention is always the best way to keep a home fit, the following tips can avoid the potential health and financial burdens associated with mold.
- Repair or reseal roof flashings when damaged or worn.
- Clean gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from your house foundation.
- Pipe downspout water discharge points away from the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed.
- Check the condition of all water piping, fittings, and fixtures periodically.
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes, dryers to the outside.
- Keep indoor humidity low. Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever showering or cooking for extended periods.
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Add a moisture barrier over dirt floors in crawlspaces.
- Make sure attics and crawlspaces are vented properly.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on surfaces, act quickly to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source.
For additional guidance on mold issues, visit the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.