Photo by Matti Mattila
Mold grows year round, both inside and outside. It is a microorganism that helps with the balance of the environment. If mold is in abundance in doors, it is known to cause some uncomfortable side affects. See Symptoms of Mold Exposure. If you have mold in your home, you must first diagnose the problem, clean up the contamination, and prevent it from returning.
Diagnose: If you suspect mold, it is suggested that you inspect the areas considered most likely places for mold to inhabit. This would be locations within your home that are particularly humid and prone to moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, and anywhere with potentially leaky pipes. Public health experts generally suggest that testing may not be necessary to determine the presence of mold in your home. Instead they suggest that if you see it and/or smell it, then you have mold in your home. Most mold problems can be diagnosed with simple steps. If you see mold growing or smell a strong musty smell, you should clean the area.
Remove: In the unfortunate event that you do discover mold in your home, try not to panic, but do take it seriously. Experts suggest that if the mold is covering less than 10 square feet, you can probably handle the cleanup yourself. See How to Remove Mold Level 1. For mold covering areas larger than 10 square feet, it is suggested to consult with experts. The EPA offers some guidelines for mold removal, but in these cases your health and safety should take priority, and this might mean hiring a professional to mitigate the problem. See How to Remove Mold Level 2.
If cleaning the mold yourself, remember to take precautions for your safety. Wear protective gloves, mask and eyewear, and only use cleaners as instructed. Ensure the area has proper ventilation also. Clean and disinfect the area and allow to dry. The best practice is to address any potential issue early. Thorough cleaning of the mold infested area will include proper disposal of moldy items. Once the mold is clean, preventive maintenance is key.
Prevent: To prevent mold from returning, the environment in which it originally grew must be altered. The cause of the moisture problem must be fixed. This may be a leaky pipe, high humidity, or poor ventilation. Next, the material that the mold is growing on must be removed or sealed with semi gloss paint to discourage future mold growth. Maintain humidity levels and keep areas clean to prevent buildup. See How to Prevent Mold.