Getting Rid of Mold
By: Kevin Bilberry
Mold can be the bane of a homeowner. At its worse, it can damage the structure of a home, and cause all sorts of health problems for those living or working in the space. Even in small amounts it is unsightly and stinky. It isn't impossible to get rid of, but it does require diligence to truly overcome.
The first and perhaps most important step to overcoming mold growth is figuring out why it is growing in the first place. Usually, mold growth is caused by excess moisture getting into an area. This can be due to a leak somewhere in the home, either from outside or from water pipes. Excessive humidity, combined with moderate temperatures, will cause mold spores to grow on any organic material. This includes wood, paper, drywall and even insulation. If the moisture is minimal, it might be enough to increase the heat to this area to keep it dry. Adding a ventilation source such as a fan will also help dry out an area. However, if you've got moisture coming in through a direct leak, or just a lot of general dampness like in an underground basement, you will need to eliminate it.
If the dampness doesn't have a clear source, but, say, your cement basement walls are always damp, you will need to consider outside drainage around the area. Gutters are important to prevent rain water from saturating the ground right outside your basement. If your lot is on the lower end of a slope, you may have a lot of underground moisture around your home, as the entire neighborhood drains towards your home. If this is the case, you may need to dig a drainage trench to direct ground-water around your home instead of through it. Line the trench with perforated pipe or drainage tile, then fill it with large gravel. On top of this you can lay topsoil and re-plant grass, or whatever you want in that area. This should dramatically reduce the amount of ambient and direct moisture coming into your basement.
Once you have dealt with stopping the source, you will definitely need to clean away the evidence of mold. Depending on the severity of the problem, it could be enough to wash the walls with a bleach solution, or paint them with one of the paints on the market that includes a mold killer. However, if mold growth was occurring in your walls or ceiling, or had spread to carpeting or furniture within your home, you will need to remove all the moldy material. Anything covered with excessive mold will have spores that can become airborne and encourage further mold growth around the home. They can also be inhaled, to the detriment of those exposed. Use a mask when removing mold damaged material, and make sure children aren't present. Then, clean the area, and replace whatever was removed with clean, new material. Hopefully, you stopped the mold problem before it began to eat away at the actual structure of your home. If that happened, you may need to seek professional help with repairing the damage.
If you can see mold, or smell a musty smell somewhere in your home, don't wait. Find the source of the mold and stop it from growing now. Ignored, it will only spread, causing more hassle and expense.
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