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Household Mold: Leave It or Clean It?

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| 2019 Aug 19 |
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Household Mold: Leave It or Clean It?

This article has been written and submitted by Brady Hodge, B.A., B.Ed., for consideration in the 2019 Mold Busters Scholarship contest.

The sun beats down over the vast prairies of the Canadian heartland. A crow flies along the horizon, while far below a farmer wipes the sweat from his brow. The life of the farmer is long, hot and tiring. Yet, the whole community relies on his reward, so onward he works. Meanwhile, in the heart of the American tropics, a leaf cutter ant stops to admire the light rain that dashes the green canopy. He is tired and lonely, a simple cog in an empire of ants. He too must continue his efforts for the good of the community.

Two leaf cutter ants carrying pieces of leaves
Leaf cutter ants store pieces of foliage that eventually lead to the growth of Leucoagricus fungus.

These two lives share important similarities and differences. While both lives exist for a harvest, one grows a crop in the dark moist tunnels of the leaf cutters. Here, through the winding paths of a thousand chambers, it stores little slices of leaf. In time, another product will grow: Leucoagricus—a fungus that will sustain the ant’s survival. (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019)

Though this provides good substance for the ants, the fungus could be extremely harmful to their human counterparts. Readers don’t have to worry about Leucoagricus specifically, but they should be concerned about other types of fungus, including mold. Mold is most often a black or turquoise fuzzy substance that returns home on your teen’s lunch. Upon long periods of exposure, this same mold can cause respiratory illnesses in otherwise healthily people. For those who already suffer from lung or breathing ailments, the effects of mold exposure can worsen. (National Center for Environmental Health, 2017) Thus, if it’s there, it needs to be treated.

This brief article will explain where you can find mold and how you can remove it.

Where to look for mold

Mold grows in warm, damp and dark places. No, not your ex’s soul, but in targeted areas such as bathrooms, basements and closets. These places rarely have big, bright windows so they tend to create just the right conditions for the growth of mold and other fungi. Furthermore, they tend to hold more moisture than other locations, especially if you like long, steamy baths.

However, humidity is also naturally occurring and can form from liquids evaporating into the air. Not to mention, unless you like to freeze, you are probably heating your home, which encourages the development of mold. Lastly, mold requires a source of food so surfaces like drywall, wood or clothing are common hot spots for contamination. And, as we all know, mold will even grow on food. (Ward, 2019) You’ve probably already witnessed this if you’ve kept your fruits, vegetables or grains sitting on the counter for too long.

What to do if you find mold growing in your home

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it. Well, the first way to conquer mold is to prevent it in the first place. Many people get dehumidifiers in their basements, which work to reduce the amount of humidity in the air, which contributes to the formation of mold in the first place. It is important to maintain indoor humidity at less than 55%, as anything higher will promote mold. (Moldpedia)

relative humidity meter
Relative humidity inside your home should be between 30% and 50%.

Furthermore, make sure that the air in these rooms can circulate. Try keeping doors and windows open. When placing furniture against the wall, leave an inch or two between it and the wall so that it can breathe. The goal is to allow the air, as well as the moisture in it, to move around freely. (Also, the dehumidifier won’t work as well if it is only accessing a small portion of the room.)

Next, it is important to keep excess water out of your home. Regularly check on your pipes to ensure they aren’t leaking or producing condensation. Every little bit matters. Flooding and cracked foundations are major sources of water. Not to mention the collection of condensation when warm summer air means your cool basement. (Ward, 2019)

If you do have a water event, it is important to clean it up quickly. Not only that, but try to dry the materials that get wet. For example, if water gets on a rug, be sure to let the space between the rug and the floor dry. Fans are great for getting the air moving. If mold does form on surfaces such as wood or drywall, you may need to use chemical treatments.

yellow and green mold on wall
Yellow and green mold on walls, floors and baseboards as result of: Poor air flow, unheated space, insufficient thermal resistance, absence of a vapor barrier, etc.

Before resorting to chemicals, you will need to ensure that the source of the problem is fixed, whatever it may be. Fix the caulking around tiles, tighten pipes and dry out rooms. The drywall may need to be replaced if it is too badly damaged. If these surfaces and items can be salvaged, then you need to find the right cleaner for the task. Ask your local hardware retailer what product is right for you, and always follow the instructions on the label. Of course, don’t skip the safety equipment. It’s all for your health, right? And keep in mind that some products, such as bleach, can create harsh vapours that demand good ventilation. (Moldpedia)

When to call in mold professionals

Another solution, which is much easier, is to call the professionals, especially if you’re dealing with a larger contamination. They’ll be able to determine exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it safely and effectively. Mold Busters is a great choice. The company started in 2005 and now has offices in Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal, Kingston and Belleville, among other cities across Ontario and Quebec. Mold Busters is founded on the principles of promise, culture and character. They promise honest and educated services. They maintain a culture of innovation, growth and customer satisfaction. Lastly, they work with discretion, compassion and knowledge.

Mold Busters also brings the best equipment. On their website, you’ll see just some of their go-to tools, including moisture metres, infrared cameras, hygro-thermometers and particle scanners. Powerful, reliable equipment allows Mold Busters technicians to focus their attention on the issue, without creating a large mess and hassle for the homeowner. Pinpointing the problem is important because the mold may be hiding behind unexposed areas. Their work speaks for itself. Just look them up on the Better Business Bureau and see their A+ rating and piles of independent reviews.

The moral of this article is simple: don’t store mold like the leaf cutter ants. It can be harmful even to the healthiest of people. Unlike the hard-working ants of the tropics, you don’t want to feast on that kind of fungi. Keep your spaces dry and, when in doubt, call the professionals.

Works Cited

  1. Better Business Bureau. (2019). Mold Busters. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/ca/on/ottawa/profile/mold-removal/mold-busters-0117-34113
  2. Moldpedia. (n.d.). Mold Removal and How to Kill Mold. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from https://moldpedia.com/mold-removal
  3. Moldpedia. (n.d.). What Causes Mold in Houses and Homes. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from https://moldpedia.com/what-causes-mold-grow
  4. National Center for Environmental Health. (2017, September 5). Facts about Mold and Dampness. USA. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019). Leafcutter Ant. United Kindgom. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/animal/leafcutter-ant
  6. Ward, J. (2019, February 11). Where to Look for Mold – Common Places for Household Mold. Canada. Retrieved from https://www.bustmold.com/resources/about-mold/where-to-look-for-mold/