Nothing can make you uncomfortable in your own home quite like mold. It ruins food, attracts pests, damages property, and looks gross. Worst of all, it doesn’t make much sense. Why do you have it? Where did it come from? Why can’t you seem to get rid of it?
Almost every homeowner will have deal with mold at one point or another. The stuff is literally everywhere. Luckily, it isn’t as dangerous as you might think, and it’s easy to prevent too. Here’s what you need to know to wipe out your mold problem for good.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a classification of multicellular fungus that grows in moist environments. It feeds on organic matter by secreting enzymes that break complex biopolymers like starch and cellulose into simple substances that it can absorb for nutrients.
Mold’s feeding process plays an important role in the decomposition of dead organic material and the natural recycling of nutrients in an ecosystem. There are many species. Most species aren’t dangerous or toxic, but many people may be allergic to its spores. Mold is only visible to the naked eye when a lot of it grows together to form a “colony”.
Where Does It Come From?
Molds reproduce by discharging a whole lot of airborne spores. How many? Scientists estimate that a single fungus routinely produces more reproductive spores than there are humans on Earth. Spores are present in essentially all the air on Earth.
Spores don’t grow until they come into direct contact with a suitable growth environment. Keeping spores out of your home is functionally impossible, but stopping them from growing is not. The best way to prevent growth in your home is to make sure your home is not a suitable environment. People can be sensitive to both mold and spores, but only mold produces serious allergic reactions.
Why Do I Have It?
Mold needs three things to thrive: moisture, heat, and darkness. If it doesn’t have any one of these three conditions, it can’t grow. Of the three, the most important of all is moisture. Mold can’t begin to grow until a spore lands on a moist surface of some kind. If you have mold in your house, it’s because a spore landed on a surface with enough moisture on it to foster growth.
Mold only requires a tiny amount of moisture. It can grow on paper products, ceiling tiles, wood, dust, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, or fabric. Humid environments can produce enough condensation for mold to grow on virtually any surface. It most often grows in basements, attics, kitchens, and closets because they’re generally the most humid places in a home. Basements and attics tend to be dark and warm, too.
How Do I Get Rid of It?
The EPA sums it up well on their Mold Home page: the key to mold control is moisture control. Spores can’t grow if they don’t land on a moist environment. Start by locating the source of any water problems. Leaks, ruptures, dripping faucets, puddles, or even condensation can create enough water for spores to grow on.
After you’ve fixed water problems, clean away any mold remaining in your home with detergent and water. Ensure that whatever it was growing on is completely dry. Throw away anything porous that you can’t clean off completely. Check every room’s humidity. You can accurately measure humidity using a cheap tool called a hygrometer. Invest in a dehumidifier for any room with greater than 50% humidity.
Step one: If you can keep your home nice and dry, and you shouldn’t have to worry anymore. If you continue to have a problem, however, follow our prevention steps again and look for any wet places you may have overlooked.
If you find out you have a water problem while you’re on the hunt for mold, give Ben Franklin a call today. We know how to patch up every type of leak, drip, or break there is, so you can be sure that when we’re done, your pipes are airtight.