You know it when you see it: That smattering of spotty, amorphous-shaped grey-black growths slowly but surely creeping up, down and around your wall, often behind shelving or in the corners. Mold. It’s not only ugly, it is associated with illnesses such as acute asthma, allergic reactions, and even chronic respiratory ailments. How can you know where the mold is coming from, and then, how can you get rid of it and prevent it?
For getting rid of, and preventing mold, below is a summary of tips from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as what to do before you get rid of it.
Determining the Source of Mold for Insurance Purposes
Before we begin with tips on controlling mold, we want you to make sure you are prepared with the right information in case the mold damage can be claimed by your or your neighbor’s insurance company. In order to claim insurance for mold damage, you will need to identify its source. To do so, you need to assess where the moisture is stemming from that is causing the mold. We recommend you call in an expert to do so, and it’s best if they provide written documentation detailing their opinion about the mold’s source. After you acquire an expert opinion, take photos of the mold for evidence sake – only after you take photos should you proceed to get rid of the mold.
The below is a summary of the EPA’s tips on removing, and preventing mold.
- Try not to breathe it in. Ventilate the room you are cleaning by opening doors and windows. Wear gloves and goggles. For those particularly sensitive, strongly consider an N-95 respirator – they’re available online or in hardware stores for around $12-25.
- Fix leaks immediately. Whether plumbing or rainwater leaks, fix it now.
- Use detergent and water to scrub mold off hard surfaces.
- Replace tiles, panels, and carpeting which have become moldy.
- For all of the above, it is crucial to dry the surfaces completely.
- Do not repaint or re-caulk surfaces until they are completely dry after mold cleanup.
Here are the EPA’s tips for preventing mold.
- Clean and/or repair roof gutters regularly.
- Restructure homes where the ground or roofs are allowing water to collect and slope inward. All water flow should be sloping outward.
- Make sure A/C drip pans and drain lines are clean to allow for proper airflow.
- Keep indoors at 30- 50% relative humidity.
- Have an outside vent for all appliances that produce moisture: Dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters.
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers if condensation persists.
- When showering or running a warm bath, make sure the bathroom fan is running and/or a window is open.
- When cooking or running a dishwasher: Run exhaust fans and/or open windows.
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature in order to stop condensation from forming. Run a heater in a colder room that is susceptible to condensation.
Mold is common, but needs immediate care. If you encounter a problem, gather evidence about the mold’s cause and then swiftly rid yourself of the mold. In the meantime, take steps to prevent future mold, and hopefully you will reduce, if not completely remove, mold in the future.