Whenever we come out of a crawl or attic space and tell our clients we identified areas with mold; they think the house is doomed. However, they don’t always understand mold, what caused it, and how mold plays an essential role in the biodegradation process of dead leaves, wood, and plants. It then becomes our job to explain what mold is and how it found it’s way into the home.
Mold is a micro-organism that decomposes dead organic material and often found in damp locations. Air or moisture can carry mold spores that are released to new places. When the mold spores attach to wood or other types of organic materials, they will appear as black stains on the surface of the material. Mold spores need moisture, a food source (your house), oxygen, a temperature between 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity above 60%. The digestive fluids from the mold spores will decompose the substrate (wood) and continue to spread and feed off the materials in the space. Inorganic materials such as concrete do not have the nutrients to support mold growth, however, if dust or dirt layers are present on inorganic materials mold will be able to grow on the surface.
Since mold spores require moisture to spread and grow, we need to be familiar with the sources of moisture in our homes. Steam from cooking and taking showers, air humidifiers, condensation from warm air leaking into the attic and crawl spaces, and water leaks are some of the sources of moisture in our homes today. These sources and improper ventilation contribute to higher humidity levels, resulting in condensation and mold growth. Food (building materials) is always available for mold spores, keeping your home dry and eliminating the sources of moisture will decrease the potential for mold growth.
If your home does, unfortunately, have some mold growth, the first thing you need to do is have the underlying moisture problem located and repaired. Remember, the mold must have water or some moisture to grow, keeping your house dry and limiting moisture and condensation will help reduce mold growth. You can reduce moisture by installing exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and making sure your clothes dryer vent is clean and adequately venting hot air to the exterior of the house. If you have a crawl space, have it inspected for water leaks and a proper vapor barrier. If a crawl space is not conditioned (sealed) it will become damp and a prime target for mold spores. If your attic space is not adequately insulated, warm air from your house will escape into the attic and condensate will form on the wood building materials, creating a food source for mold spores.
Remember, mold is everywhere. We just need to learn how to prevent it from taking up residence in our homes. Doing the items listed above will help keep your home dry and becoming a food source for mold. If you have any questions about mold, we would be happy to answer them for you. Please feel free to give us a call if mold is a concern in your home or the home you are looking to purchase.