How To Identify Mold Vs Mildew In Your Home
Mold and mildew are often spoken of together, almost as if they were the same substance. We fear mold and mildew growing below our homes in crawl spaces, under house siding, around the bathroom wall surround, and behind the sink. Excessive, pervasive mold and mildew can hamper a house sale or cause homeowners to move their bedroom elsewhere. Neither mold nor mildew is welcomed in the home, in any form.
Though related, mold and mildew are separate microorganisms that grow differently and must be treated differently. Safely eradicating mold and mildew is crucial to keeping you safe and your home in good shape.
Cleaning Up Small And Medium Mould Problems
Bleach is not necessary to clean up mould.
You can clean up small areas of mould if you follow the proper procedures and use the right protective equipment. Unless the mould growth is on smooth surfaces such as bathroom tiles, surface cleaning will not eliminate the problem.
In most cases you can clean up medium areas of mould if you follow the proper procedures and use the right protective equipment. Materials damaged by mould must be physically removed and disposed of under safe conditions. However, it is important to seek professional assistance if there is a large mould problem or if mould comes back after cleaning.
Susceptible individuals such as pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and occupants with asthma, allergies or other health problems should not be in or near the area where the mould is being cleaned up.
Minimum protective gear needed:
- a disposable N95 mask and
- household disposable gloves.
You can purchase an N95 mask from a hardware store. Make sure that the label says “N95”. Other masks are designed to provide limited protection against dust and are not suitable for protecting against mould exposure. Make sure that the mask is properly fitted and you can breathe through the mask.
Moisture In Your Kitchen
Mold is commonly found in kitchens, and thats not surprising given how much water is used for cooking and cleaning. Kitchens are second to bathrooms as the location where the most water is contained in plumbing components. That includes water supply lines, drain pipes, sinks, dishwashers and even ice makers.
Kitchens store passive water in pots left on counters and inside fridges. Dishes are left on the counter to dry, and kettles steam away on the stove. All this makes your kitchen a high-humidity environment that increases the odds of mold forming. Consider these moisture sources in your kitchen:
Leaks in dishwasher and sink supply and drain lines
Poor range hood ventilation
Condensation on plumbing pipes under cabinets
Stored liquids that arent properly sealed
Steam from pots, pans and dishwashers
Standing water in sinks and pots
Wet and humid cabinet cavities
Poorly installed counters and backsplashes that trap water
Spills and splashes that arent mopped up
You May Like: Get Rid Of Mold Smell In Basement
How To Remove Mold On The Outside Of A House
Video Playback Not Supported
To prevent mold and mildew on the outside of your house, keep shrubs and trees trimmed away from the house.
To remove mold and mildew from your house:
- Mix up a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and spray in a pump up sprayer. Allow to remain on for 10-20 minutes, then rinse using a garden hose.
- Mix up a solution of TSP in a bucket, following the directions on the box. Scrub the house with the mixture, using a long handled scrub brush, and rinse.
Watch this video to find out more.
Special Care For Some Articles And Surfaces
Preventing mildew on clothing and household fabricsKeep fabrics dry. Never let clothing or other fabric articles lie around damp or wet. Dry soiled clothes before putting them into the hamper. Wash out dishcloths and hang them to dry. Spread out washcloths and damp towels. Stretch out wet shower curtains. It is the wet curtain left bunched together or sticking to the wall or tub that is most likely to mildew. Sprinkle only as many articles as can be ironed in a day. Shake out and dry those not ironed.
Dry washed garments and fabrics thoroughly and quickly. Fabrics dried slowly may get sour and musty smelling a sign of mold growth.
To help keep moisture out of clothing and household fabrics and thus make them less susceptible to mold growth, treat them with water-repellent sprays. Spray draperies, slipcovers, mattresses, overshoes and jackets and other outer garments.
Fungicide products that may be sprayed on fabrics to give them mildew protection are available in low-pressure aerosol containers. Some germicidal, mothproof and water-repellent sprays may also protect against mildew. Read labels on the container for information.
For adequate mildew protection, wet the surface of the fabric thoroughly with the spray. Unless the sprayed fabrics are kept in a closed container, they should be examined frequently and resprayed. For precautions, see Use of pesticides, including fungicides.
Paradichlorobenzene is also available in spray cans.
Recommended Reading: How To Remove Mold From Linoleum Floors
Look For Standing Water
If the air conditioner isnt the issue, search for standing water or chronic dampness that’s increasing indoor humidity and providing a lovely environment for mold.
Check for puddles or dampness around hot water tanks, sump pumps, freezers, refrigerators, basement doors, and windows. Inspect crawl spaces for ground water dampness or foundation leaks.
Moisture In Your Bathroom
Bathrooms are by far the most common rooms in your house to experience mold problems. Fortunately, theyre the easiest rooms to discover mold outbreaks in, and thats because youre probably looking for mold during routine cleaning.
Bathrooms are high-humidity rooms by nature of their intended use. Normal living creates high humidity from hot showers and baths. Using the sink creates moisture, as does flushing the toilet. Even standing water in the sink or plumbing traps contribute to evaporation and keep the bathroom’s relative humidity high.
Bathrooms have many surfaces where mold can start. There are plenty of places like smooth tile faces and porous grout spaces that quickly harbor mold if moisture isnt controlled. Inside vanity cabinets is a common spot for mold to start. Another common place for mold is behind toilets where air circulation is blocked. All this is due to the presence of moisture that rises from these sources:
General plumbing problems like leaks and overflows
Poor ventilation, like fans or opening windows
Frequent running water like tap drips or toilet run-ons
Damp shower areas including shower curtains and doors
Standing water in sinks and tubs
Leaky drain pipes
Condensation on cold surfaces such as toilet tanks and chrome fixtures
Broken toilet seals
Wet floor mats and towels
Low heat to allow evaporation of excessive moisture
Failed grout or caulk around shower and tub enclosures
Don’t Miss: Remove Mold From Cutting Board
Most Mold Is Not Covered By A Standard Homeowners Policy
Mold, like rot and insect infestation, is a home maintenance issue and these are generally not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. However, in the event that mold growth is the direct result of a covered peril such as a burst pipe, the cost of eliminating the mold may be covered. If you have federal flood insurance, it may cover you for mold and/or mildew damagebut only if it is directly attributable to a flood.
However, since it’s unlikely you’re covered for mold, it’s even more important to keep your home mold-freeand in that effort, a strong offense is definitely your best defense.
Moisture In Your Heating Ventilation And Air
Regardless of whether you’re heating your home up or cooling it down, youre going to be moving air that contains moisture. There are many different forms of HVAC systems and their parts. Some use water as a primary heat source, and often youll find homes that incorporate some form of humidifier or dehumidifier. That depends on the climate.
Most HVAC systems have ductwork that moves warm air about and cold air in return. These ducts are perfect environments for mold to form because theyre dark and warm and they have plenty of air and contain an optimum humidity level. Removing mold from ductwork can be a terrible chore.
Ductwork is also the place where airborne debris gets trapped. Thats everything from household dust to pet hair and dander. Trapped material also locks in moisture and starts promoting a colony of mold. Here are the HVAC sources of moisture:
Clogged and blocked air filters
Condensation in ductwork from lack of insulation
Condensation runoff in high-efficiency furnaces
Condensation of metal joints and HVAC frames
Wet fiberglass insulation
Improper use or lack of drain pans
Saturated air coming from HVAC condensers
Improper blend of indoor and outdoor air
Damaged or missing foil wrap on ducts
Weak or no air flow from grilles and registers
Leaks at duct joints
Also Check: How To Clean Mold From Leather
Extent Of Mould Growth
It is important to determine the extent of the mould problem in your home to help you decide on the clean-up procedure. An area of mould is considered small if it covers one square metre or less. There should be no more than three patches of mould, with the total area staying within one square metre. Many small patches of mould in one area or throughout your home are a sign of moisture problems that need to be investigated and corrected right away.
If ignored, small mould areas may become larger over time, so it is important to clean them up before the problem gets bigger. A small amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment.
The area of mould is considered medium if there are more than three patches of mould , but the total area is less than three square metres. In this case, assessment by a qualified professional is recommended but in most cases a medium amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment .
An area of mould is considered large if a single patch of mould is larger than three square metres. Health Canada does not recommend that an unqualified person clean up large areas of mould. You may need a professional assessment to determine why the mould is there in the first place and how to clean it up.
Monitor Indoor Plants Closely
Anyone with indoor plants needs to remove mildew spores from them as soon as possible. If you leave plants inside your home with mildew spots on the leaves or the soil it could contaminate the air you are breathing and spread.
Even if you have an outdoor garden, if you notice mildew growth on one of your cucumber plants, get rid of that plant before the mildew has a chance to spread. You don’t want to harvest recently grown tomatoes, forget to wash one of them, and take a bite without realizing that the mildew has already jumped from one plant to the tomato plant.
You May Like: How To Clean Mold From Boat Seats
Moisture In Your Attic
Its common to find mold in attics, especially where there are poor ventilation and high humidity conditions. Few people spend time in their attics, particularly in todays homes that use roof trusses instead of rafters and storage space is impractical.
Most people never enter their attic unless theres an emergency. Thats usually due to a water leak, and by then, a mold infestation may be well advanced. Running water is easy to identify in an attic as its going to pour through hatch openings or from light fixtures. High humidity and moisture levels are more difficult to find. Consider these attic moisture sources:
Leaky or missing roof shingles
Leaking drain, waste and ventilation pipes
Condensation on plumbing pipes
Improperly installed flashings and ridge capping
Improperly installed exhaust vents for dryers, bath and kitchen vents
Condensation during cold months
Heat causing high humidity in warm months
Faulty or missing insulation
Snow and ice damming problems
Heaters or furnaces in attic
Air conditioning units in the attic
Stored materials that are wet or damp
Why Work With A Professional To Remove Mildew
While it is simple to wipe away mildew growth on hard surfaces in your home, you should still work with a mildew removal professional early on. The reason being, what you might see as mildew my only be a part of the problem.
If your bathroom has mildew growth on the shower tiles, it could be nothing more than mildew growth. But it could also be a sign of an internal leak and more serious mold growth behind the walls or in the floors. If you have children in the home or you suffer from a pre-existing respiratory condition, cleaning these contaminants yourself could cause harmful ramifications.
Moreover, hiring a professional gives you the peace of mind that your home will be thoroughly inspected and tested. If any other mold problems are underlying they will be uncovered. All of the affected areas will be noted, and if you so choose properly cleaned by professionals with any necessary preventative measures into place.
At Silver Environmental, we have over 20 years of experience helping people in the Greater Boston Area remove mold and mildew from their homes – and keep it out. We offer free consultations to anyone who fears they have a mold or mildew problem. It is best to be sure right away if this is something that can affect your home and your family. Donât wait, give us a call today to schedule an appointment.
Also Check: How To Clean Mold Between Pavers
Differences Between Mold And Mildew
While mold and mildew are both fungi that need water, oxygen, and food in order to live and survive, they differ in a number of ways. Mold tends to have a higher profile and can even become fuzzy, while mildew is usually flat. Mold exhibits darker colors such as deep green and black mildew may begin as white, then turn brown or gray. Mildew converts to a white, powdery substance mold never does.
How To Clean Mold And Mildew From Fabric
Avoid sending mold spores into the air and throughout the house by first taking fabric and upholstery outside when possible. Brush off as much of the mildew as possible. Then treat fabric or upholstered pieces individually as follows.
Moldy or mildewy fabric should be laundered in chlorine bleach and hot water. If chlorine bleach is not a safe option for the material, soak it in oxygen bleach and hot water for a half-hour, then wash as directed. Take it outside to dry in the sun if possible.
Upholstery that you can’t take outside should be vacuumed first. Replace the vacuum bag or take the canister outside to clean. Then mix 1 cup of ammonia with 1 cup of cool water. Using a clean white cloth, sponge the stains with the ammonia solution. Blot until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the process until the stain disappears. To remove the resulting ammonia solution, sponge the area with cold water and blot. Dry thoroughly with a fan or hair dryer set on cool.
You May Like: Black Mold On Tile Grout
To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Home
- Keep humidity levels in your home as low as you canno higher than 50%all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. You can buy a meter to check your homes humidity at a home improvement store. Humidity levels change over the course of a day so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
- Be sure the air in your home flows freely. Use exhaust fans that vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
- Fix any leaks in your homes roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
- Clean up and dry out your home fully and quickly after a flood.
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting. You can buy mold inhibitors at paint and home improvement stores.
- Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
- Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried right away. Think about not using carpet in places like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
- To learn more about preventing mold in your home, see the Environmental Protection Agencys book A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home at .
How To Stop Mold Growth In Basement
Basements are notorious for moisture, and therefore are a breeding ground for harmful mold.
While a little mold here and there may not strike you as a serious issue, you should be aware that mold can cause serious health problems when being breathed in.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Mold On Ceiling In Bathroom