As you’ll know from some of my previous posts, my son suffers from allergies. And not just run-of-the-mill-sneezing-in-May allergies. We have anti-allergen bedding, and I change our furnace filter every three months on the dot to keep down dust and other particulates. So you can bet your bottom dollar I do everything to keep mold from growing in our house. Not only can some mold make my son’s allergies flare up, but mold also poses health risks when left unchecked. Read on to learn how molds can affect you, where they may grow in your home, and how to prevent their growth.
Molds’ Effects on People
Some molds are relatively harmless in small amounts. This isn’t to say you can just leave mold growth alone, but it does mean you don’t have to break out a HAZMAT suit at the site of a little green fuzz on some cheese. Most of the time, reactions to mold include sneezing, a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, or skin irritation. More serious reactions include fever and even lung infection. You don’t want to mess around with mold. Those who have asthma are particularly sensitive to mold since it can trigger symptoms.
Prime Conditions and Places for Mold
Mold can grow anywhere that’s humid, warm, and shady, indoors and out. Outdoors, mold isn’t typically a major problem. In your home, you’re most likely to find mold growing in your basement and bathrooms. The worst-case scenario would be mold in your ventilation system. Mold grows and multiplies by sending tiny spores into the air. When the spores land on wet surfaces, they grow further. You can’t see these spores, but a good furnace filter will help remove them from the air before it enters your home.
How to Keep Mold at Bay
Mold likes moisture, so keep the humidity in your home low, around 30-50%. Make sure to turn on a fan or your vent system while showering, or crack a window. This will reduce the amount of moisture and steam in the bathroom, which means your walls, ceiling, and shower stand a lower chance of sporting mold growth. When my son and I first moved into our home, one of the first things I did was install an exhaust fan in the bathroom. If your basement is prone to flooding, dry any wet spots after storms, and invest in a dehumidifier. If you’re able, look into what it would take to prevent your basement from flooding in the first place. That way, you’ll not only avoid mold but you’ll also avoid structural damage to your home.
How to Remove Mold
Some mold growth can be removed on your own, but a large amount will need to be removed by a professional. If you plan to remove mold yourself, you should consider getting a cheap respirator at the hardware store, along with some goggles and gloves. (I found an N-95 respirator at Lowe’s for around $13 when I needed to remove mold from our basement.) This equipment ensures you don’t breathe in any mold spores or expose your eyes or skin to the growth.
The CDC and EPA have further recommendations and guidelines for removing larger mold growths and what to do if you suspect mold is growing somewhere hidden. Just keep humidity low, and dry any wet areas of your home after storms, and you should be as mold-free as possible.