Humidity problems, damp and mold are not considered one of the biggest problems when thinking about building and home threats. However, increased humidity levels and especially mold, apart from the aesthetic problem or the bad odors, can seriously damage our buildings and our health. AtYourService has prepared a detailed guide to give you all the facts, prevention instructions and what to do in order to deal with mold once and for all.
The trend for perfect insulated buildings that use less energy, although innovative and necessary, it has unfortunately led to little air circulation and people to decrease the frequent ventilation of all rooms.
And although we thought that increased humidity levels and mold were problems of the past, today many homes face severe mold growth which besides repairs, also requires education and detailed instructions on all we have to do to keep a healthy building.
What is mold?
Some of us might believe mold is a plant and some others an animal or a parasite. This is far from truth.
Mold is neither a plant nor an animal. It is a fungus like mushrooms, but not a tasty fungus. :)
It is sometimes toxic and sometimes not and lives on earth for more than 400 million years which means that is is a very resistant fungus.
Molds can grow in just 48 hours if the environmental conditions are right. Warmth, humidity and food, such as wood, is all they need. Their spores are everywhere while they exist in tiny areas in almost every house. So, you can’t completely eliminate mold or its spores. The only thing you can do is to prevent it from growth.
Where mold is usually found?
Mold may appear everywhere as long as there is enough warmth and humidity. Usually, it can be found at dark isolated spaces or near water. In houses it is mostly found in basements, kitchens, bathrooms and in walls with broken water pipes.
Why mold is bad for your health
Mold can be toxic (the black mold) while it doesn’t only pollute the surfaces as most of us believe, but also the air we breathe. Although researchers are still arguing if mold is to be accused for major illnesses, however the health conditions it causes are many. Take a look below:
This is the most common reaction to mold while the symptoms may vary from person to person and might look like the allergy to pollen, such as a running nose or sneezing, skin rashes or red itchy eyes.
Mold causes asthma attacks to people with asthma while the frequency depends on how big the mold growth is.
Although not proven, mold is accused for many more illnesses and is considered a serious threat to our health. Headaches, memory loss, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and even cancer are only some of the diseases reported to have occurred in buildings with severe mold growth. It can also cause lung infections to people with weakened immune systems.
Your pets can get sick too!
Since most pets are much more sensitive than humans and their contact with floors and dirty surfaces is more extended, they are more exposed to mold, which is a serious threat to their health. Mold can cause serious illnesses to all pets and even death.
Why mold is bad for your building
Just as rust, mold requires time but can completely “eat” walls, drywalls, ceiling tiles, wooden stairs and any porous item they touch. Also, as mold is a symptom of humidity, the water leakage can cause severe damages to a house.
In case you got mold
What most of us will do in case we see dark spots on wall or the ceiling is try to clean it. Sometimes it will go away with rubbing it with dish soap or in worst cases, by painting the walls. But this is not the correct way to deal with mold.
Most people don’t know it is not healthy to touch or go near mold while the sure thing is that whatever you do, it will come back if you don’t also treat the source of the problem. So, let’s see the correct and healthy way to deal with mold once and for all.
Check your home
In most cases, when mold appears in a room, you should check the whole house because it is likely that more rooms are infested.
Of course, have in mind that a few tiny dark spots in your bathroom are completely natural to form due to the increased humidity, so a special cleaning product, dish soap or bleach with water, is more than enough to treat it. Just stay alert, check your bathroom often and remove it as soon as possible every time it grows back.
Depending on the problem, if mold has appeared in your house and it’s not just tiny spots, then most probably you shouldn’t deal with it but the experts. In cases when the problem is extended to more than 2-3 square meters and especially when it is not only visible but also smells, a deep thorough cleaning by professionals is necessary so that it is completely removed.
Do you smell it?
In many cases, you might smell a musty odor but you can’t see any mold spots. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a problem. On the contrary, since smelling happens after extended mold growth then it is possible that it has grown inside walls or stays hidden behind wall papers, inside drywalls and in any other dark and humid place in your house, where you can’t see it. Also check under your carpets and moquettes.
In this case, hire an expert immediately to find where the problem is as well as the source of the problem, because it can still cause diseases by polluting the atmosphere.
It is not advisable to treat mold on your own, however, if you must clean it yourself you should in no case, touch or go very close to the infected spots. First open all windows and even after you remove mold, let them opened for as long as you can. In some cases, it might take a few days until the spot is completely dried and the atmosphere clean and fresh again.
Secondly, if the mold is extended or black, always remember to wear gloves, long sleeves and a respirator in order to limit your exposure to it. Finally, assuming that you have already dealt with the source of the problem (broken water pipes, increased humidity etc.) you may proceed cleaning the spot.
The day after
After fixing your broken water pipes and removing mold, you are not over with repairs. In most cases you will also have to restore any damages caused by mold including painting, and replacement of porous items such as carpets, certain types of floors, a damaged plumbing system or even a full renovation.
So, as you see, you are not done yet. First check your building or house insurance in case it covers humidity or mold damages. Then make a list of the jobs you need because now have to deal with a series of repairs and probably you will have to hire multiple experts for each job. However, again we have the best and fastest solution for you.
Instead of hiring anyone who claims he can do the job, do it the smart way. AtYourService allows you to publish your offer request with a list of the jobs you need to be done and receive the best deals from top rated professionals in Cyprus.
Use mold-killing products
Mold inhibitors added to paints or cleaning with mold-killing products available to the market are a good solution to prevent mold, especially in dark and warm areas of your building.
After you have dealt with mold and your house is fully restored, you definitely don’t want to have to face such problems again. As you will know by now, mold, although very unhealthy and bad for your building, is not the actual problem.
It is the last symptom of a series of things gone wrong for a long period of time. So, you have all the time from now on, to do a lot about it. Whether on your own or by having you building checked at least annually, you may prevent mold growth and avoid all this trouble along with health problems it can cause to your family.
The below checklist will help you make sure that you will have a completely mold-free home. So, start checking or ask a professional to do the following checks:
If your plumbing system is old, a check from an expert at least twice a year is essential. In general, look for sweating or dripping pipes, smelling spots under your sink, washing machine and dishwasher, especially if they are built – in.
Open all your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and check them thoroughly for smells or any sign of humidity. Take a paper napkin and pass it over all surfaces to make sure there is no sign of water anywhere.
Check for swollen paint around your house. Humidity usually makes paint (both water and oil – based paint) separate from the surface and look like it is blistering or has bubbles. In time, paint will crack and peel off.
Check all your walls for sweating or discoloring on paint or wall paper. Also, check them for cracks, holes or any openings with a green or darker color.
Again, check for differences in color or appearance of the ceiling and if you live on a top floor, it’s best to have the roof insulated to prevent any leaking water from rain or the increased humidity levels.
Any discoloring on your carpets is not always dirt but it might show a humid spot underneath. Also, if your carpets are not properly and regularly cleaned, some water from your child’s glass can also grow mold.
Especially in wooden floors which are the most sensitive to humidity, you should check more often for any blistering, cracking or flaking.
A bad smelling basement can be thought as natural due to the little or no ventilation but in many cases, this can be due to dampness and mold growth. Good lighting of the room is important so that you will be able to see any problematic spot. Check every spot and cabinet and remove any boxes or items stored in your basement to look underneath for signs of moisture.
Remove all carpets from your bathroom because this is a certain way to have mold. If it’s too slippery and you have to use a carpet, then get small ones that can be put in the washing machine and wash them twice a week. In between, make sure it is always dry.
It is recommended that you should always try to keep the humidity levels in your building below 50%. Use a hygrometer and turn the dehumidifier or the air conditioner on to lower humidity levels, if high.
If you see any moisture anywhere, (apparently not in the shower :) )and you are not really sure where it came from, dry the spot immediately and then check it twice a day to make sure it is still dry. In case it appears again, ask the help of an expert or try to find the source.
In summary, besides ugly and smelly, all types of molds are a costly threat to our buildings and most importantly, can cause many problems to our health. So, in case you spot mold in your home, protect your family’s health and save even thousands of euros in repairs by taking action according to our instructions, the moment you see it.
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