Returning from vacation recently, my family was welcomed back by an unwelcome house guest: mold. Our basement, which is usually aired out through open windows, had been shut tight for a little over a week. A funky smell hit our noses as we went downstairs, and we discovered the creepy, whitish fuzz on the back of a couple of brown fabric armchairs. We’d thought we had salvaged these chairs from the flood we experienced last winter after an especially rough ice storm. Dehumidifiers, fans and the wet vacuum had all been deployed, yet apparently, some moisture must have remained.
We’re getting rid of the chairs, but in doing a deep immersion study of mold since our discovery, here’s what I’ve learned, and I hope this helps you if you encounter the nasty stuff:
- Molds are microscopic life forms that can be found outdoors or indoors. Not all molds are bad; for instance, those used to make cheese and antibiotics are good. Toxic or allergenic molds that grow indoors, however, are bad news.
- Beyond being gross and smelly, mold can be seriously dangerous to your health. There are a variety of molds, and many have been linked to a number of symptoms, including allergic reactions, headaches, dizziness, decreased concentration, agitation, and severe asthma. Some people are especially vulnerable to mold exposure: infants and children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and people with existing respiratory conditions.
- Trust your nose: if you smell mildew, there is a problem somewhere. Don’t delay in eradicating it at its source. If you can’t find where the odor is originating, hire professionals to do it for you.
- In addition to harming people, an untreated mold problem can cause tremendous property damage–the cleanup of which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Again, get to the source early.
- If your mold problem is small (a few square feet), you can probably do the cleanup yourself. Always wear rubber gloves and a quality mask. While bleach may remove mold from the surface, a proper mildewcide needs to be used to kill mold and mold spores. These DIY formulas do the job without the use of harsh chemicals.
- If the problem is greater than a few square feet, it’s recommended that you hire a professional to remove the mold for you.
- To prevent mold, make sure rooms are well-ventilated. Invest in the right sized air conditioner or humidifier for rooms during humid months. In the colder months, proper insulation of exterior walls helps prevent condensation on inner walls.