Monthly Archives: October 2016

How to prevent mold with air purifiers

Preventing Mold with Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are handy equipment especially for those with mold allergies. They help by ridding the atmosphere off allergens, mold spores included, which cause allergic reactions. They also make an ideal prevention measure for mold growth.

Factors to consider when acquiring an air purifier –

  • Speed i.e. volume of air it can clean per hour
  • Filter replacement
  • Power consumption
  • Noise level
  • Air Purifiers

There are different types of air purifiers in the market. The main ones include:

  • HEPA
  • Ozone Generators
  • Activated Carbon (activated carbon is often included as a pre-filter in HEPA air purifiers)
  • UV (ultraviolet light)
  • Ionizers

Which Air Purifier is Ideal for Mold

Because mold has micro sized spores that float in the air especially during remediation, the HEPA filtered purifier is the best option. It works by filtering up to 99.97% of small micro particles from the air. It does filter 0.3micron particles. Mold spores range between 1 and 20 microns so they are easily captured by the HEPA filter.

Another ideal purifier is the Activated Carbon which is usually integrated in the HEPA air purifier as a pre-filter. The pre-filter’s function is to absorb mold odor because it absorbs VOCs and MVOCs from mold well enough.

Removing mold spores with air purifiers

Any mold challenge in the home is first addressed by removal. It will be noteworthy to mention that air purifiers only remove mold spores in the air and not mold growing on surfaces. Mold is removed using different means.

Mold spores can be present in the air anytime, particularly after mold removal since mold will have been disturbed enough to release some particles in the air. Sometimes mold spores will be blown in from the outside air while some spores will be remain in the air because you cannot possibly clear all particles from the air.

While it is impossible to remove all spores from the air, it is possible to manage them to a minimum harmless level. Air purifiers are designed to run throughout to maintain clean air at all times. These purifiers generally consume less power and are quiet, and you can expect them to purify your air literally, within a short time after being turned on.

Air Purifiers for Mold Prevention

Mold spores not only cause allergic reactions but also contribute to the growth of mold in your house. By getting rid of mold spores in the air, you will have prevented them from landing on wet surfaces and potentially growing into mold. Air purifiers are therefore a long-term mold prevention solution.
Air Purifiers for Pollen, Dust, Pet Dander, Bacteria, and Other Allergens

Alongside mold spores, air purifiers also remove pollen, dust, dust mite feces, pet dander, bacteria, smoke, VOCs, and other allergens found in your air space. Some even remove viruses from the air.

Therefore, if you are asthmatic, air purifiers are an asset. In addition, it saves you the trouble of having to dust or vacuum every other time.

Things to consider when buying an Air Purifier

1. Room Size

The size of room you intend to use the air purifier in will greatly determine the purifier you will buy. When buying a purifier, look out for room size information on it. It will be practical to acquire one whose capability equals or is greater than the size of your room.

Usually room size factor goes hand in hand with a purifier’s recommended speed. A good purifier will do two rounds of air purification in an hour. Other faster ones will do six air changes in the same hour. Simply put, the more air changes per hour (ACH) a purifier can handle the better it is.

You will notice that an air purifier will indicate the volume of air it has cleaned at different speeds in cubic feet per hour (cu ft/hr) or cubic feet per minute (cu ft/min).

2. Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)

Clean Air Delivery Rate refers to the volume of a specific particle that an air purifier will clean in a minute. It is arrived at by multiplying the volume (in cubic feet per m) of air flown out of the purifier and the percentage of particles removed.

For instance, a good purifier will deliver between 10 and 400 CADR for dust particles, 25 and 450 CADR for pollen and 10 and 450 CADR for tobacco smoke. 350 CADR and above is excellent performance while that below 100 is poor.

3. Power Consumption

How much electricity an equipment consumes is an important factor as it is pegged on cost. However, faster air purifiers generally consumer more power compared to the average ones and these provide the best option for large rooms.

On the other hand, it is possible to find a more efficient air purifier that will consume less power compared to others of the same capacity.
There is no cause for worry, purifiers are affordable in terms of power cost. this is because most of them will consume 10watts or less.

4. Filter Replacement

Filter replacement is a recurrent or operating cost that you should expect if you are planning to buy an air purifier. What informs this cost is how frequently you replace your filters and at how much.
In the case of removing mold spores, HEPA filters are ideal. Usually they will last you six months to five years depending on how you use them. Again, you can go for the washable ones, as they will give you longer service.

5. Noise Levels

How much noise an air purifier will produce depends partly on the speed at which it is operating. If on low speed, you can expect minimum noise levels and vice versa. However, most purifiers are generally quiet and shouldn’t produce disturbing noise even when operating on high speed.
Most air purifiers will have the amount of noise in decibels (Db) indicated on them.

TYPES OF AIR PURIFIERS

1. HEPA Air Purifier

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. These paper-like filters are made of mat randomly arranged fibers that filter 99.97% of 0.3 or larger micron size particles from the air. They are also lined with an antimicrobial layer. HEPA filters are ideal for removing mold spores since these spores range between 1 and 20 microns in size. In this way, you will be preventing the growth or spread of molds.

HEPA Air Purifier

HEPA Air Purifier

Apart from mold spores, HEPA filters will remove other allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander from the air thereby guaranteeing you clean quality indoor air.
Knowing how to identify a genuine HEPA filter is important, as there are filters in the market that resemble but are not HEPA filters. HEPA filters have a rating for example H10. A higher rating means better filtering.

Furthermore, HEPA filters are safe for the environment since they do not emit harmful by products like ozone. Therefore, running your purifier throughout will not be harmful to your health.
Like other filters, HEPA filters need replacement when they are worn-out. Your purifier should have information about how long the filter will last. While some will take you six months, others will take you years.

2. Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon absorbs gas molecules like odor, chemical, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air. It is common to find carbon filters integrated as pre filters in air purifiers. Most HEPA purifiers come with activated carbon pre filters.

3. Ionizer Air Purifiers

Ionizer air purifiers release negative ions in the air which then attach to allergens causing allergens to drop on surfaces. Negative ions usually remain in this state for 30seconds. Other ionizers come with charged collector plates that attract allergens. Both of these processes are known as active air purification because purification takes place outside the air purifier. In HEPA purifiers, purification takes place inside the purifier and this is known as passive purification.

A good offering of the ionizer air purifier is that they need no filters and consume relatively low power keeping your cost low. However, they are not as good as HEPA filters when it comes to removing mold spores from the air. Ionizers will remove mold spores from the air nut not from the room. Unless mold spores are removed from the room, they are still likely to cause allergic reactions.

Considering room size, ionizer purifiers are again not better than HEPA as they do not have the capacity to clean large rooms unless they come with ionizer fans. The downside of using a purifier with an ionizer fan is that much as it is faster, it consumes more power and is a bit noisier.

Ionizer purifiers will produce ozone below the safety standard levels so they are safe but not safer than HEPA purifiers. Ozone is a toxic and reactive molecule that affects the lungs when released in the air at a high level.

Ionizer air purifiers will also cause ‘black walls’ or dark spots where the ionizer runs.

4. Ultraviolet Light Air Purifiers

UV light when shone on mold long enough kills mold spores. The downside of it is that you cannot reach tight corners and therefore will not kill all mold spores in the room. Again, it is time consuming as it takes minutes of shining it on mold for mold spores to be destroyed.

UV light is best used in combination with other filters inside purifiers. This way, microorganisms like mold spores get destroyed after being filtered from the air.

5. Ozone Generator Air Purifiers

An ozone generator operates by producing very reactive molecules known as ozone, which destroys biological organisms such as bacteria and mold. One should be careful when using this method to remove mold spores because high levels of ozone in the room will not only destroy mold spores but also affect lungs.

Ozone purifiers have been limited to use by commercial companies who use them to treat shock. During treatment, it is recommended that you and your family leave the house for hours to allow ozone molecules to clear from the air.

How to remove mold in house after flood problems

Flooding is a likely cause of mold growing in the house but it is possible to prevent mold after you have experienced flooding in your house.

Talk to a Mold Remediation or Cleaning Professional

Getting a mold remediation or cleaning professionals to do the job is the best option one can have when it comes to preventing mold growth in a recently flooded home. The advantage of professional remediation is that it gives you the guarantee that the problem is dealt with completely and that you are safe living in that house after a flood.

Mold Prevention in the Event of a Flood

Floods create a wet, heavily moisturized environment ideal for mold growth. After flooding, mold will begin to grow after a day or two if remediation is not done immediately. Once a mold remediation or cleaning professional has worked on your home, you are sure to continue living in it and safely.

In case you are the DIY kind, take out your things from the house before you begin the cleaning process to ensure they are safe. Once you are done cleaning and the environment is free from the effects of flood, you can put them back in.

Get Rid of Flood Water

After removing your things from the house, you need to try to fetch out as much flood water from the house as is possible. Buckets and mops, or even pumps are quite useful when it comes to draining water. If you are in a position to, you can talk to the fire department as they have the right tools to drain water. In addition, ensure that any rubbish that flowed in with flood water is removed.

The Drying Process

Drying should take place immediately after flooding otherwise your home will be susceptible to mold growth and other after-flood related challenges.

Equipment like fans, dehumidifiers, and heaters come in handy at this point. Wetness is a safety hazard where electrical appliances are being used therefore perform a thorough check up to ensure that it is safe for you to use electricity powered appliances. Again, to speed up drying, you can open the windows to increase ventilation.

Soaked Carpets

During flooding, the carpet is bound to soak in flood water. Carpets take time to dry and leaving it on the floor is certainly not a good idea because it will attract mold. If you can take it out, clean it thoroughly and let it dry completely then put it back the better. Otherwise, to be on the safe side, it is better off to dispose such a carpet.

Flooded Drywall

Dry walls usually absorb water when it floods and especially the bottom part that touches the floor. If left for some time, mold wills start growing on this wall and inside the wall cavities. To prevent mold, cut out the bottom part of the drywall including a 30cm allowance.
If mold has already started growing on the drywall, remove the affected section, as dry walls are porous and cannot be properly cleaned off mold and stains.

Other Porous Building Materials

Other porous materials used in building the home like wall panels and wood also get affected by water. Wall panels are better off removed. Wood on the other hand, can be removed, dried, and then reused provided it doesn’t have any mold.

Insulation is similar to the carpet in that it also takes long to dry therefore it is better off disposed.

Wet building materials should be taken out immediately after flooding however, it is not recommended that you replace them before your house is completely dried out. Inspect wall cavities and seal them only when you are sure the inside of your wall has dried completely.

Soaked or Moldy Items

Items like fixtures, boxes and others that got soaked with flood water need to be taken out of the house. Never transfer them to another room within the house, take them outside of the house. If possible, wrap the moldy items in plastic to prevent spreading of mold.
Depending on the materials they are made of, you will need to decide whether to clean and reuse some these items or dispose them off.

The Cleaning Process – Your House

Having taken out items, dealt with soaked or moldy surfaces, and left the house to dry it is time now to clean and disinfect your house. Cleaning should not be a difficult task. Simply use regular cleaning solutions and disinfectants or antifungal solutions if there is need to prevent mold.
Clean all surfaces in the home including floors, shelves, closets, and walls.

The Cleaning Process – Sodden or Moldy Items

Non porous items are easy to clean. A simple wiping using water and detergents and then drying is enough to prevent mold from growing on them.

On the other hand, porous items that moldy or sodden with flood water are tricky to clean. Dispose those that will take more than two days to dry, as they could easily attract and spread mold.

For fabrics, you can wash them in a washing machine and dry them. However, those that have already been attacked by mold will need to be thoroughly cleaned and treated before they can be used. Again, mold sometimes leaves stains on fabric.

Mold Removal after Flooding

Incase mold has already started growing after flooding, inspect your house for those rooms that have been affected then try as much as you can to contain the mold and mold spores in these rooms so they don’t spread to other rooms.

Mold removal is best done after the house has dried and you have cleared all dirt. Ensure that you have done complete mold remediation process before moving back into the house.

Is it Time to Move back into your House ?

You will know that it is time to move back into your house when the house is dry completely and when the items you had removed from the house are clean, dry, and free from mold. Move your things back into the house after replacing the important ones that you had disposed.

Also, confirm that there are no signs of mold in the house, on items or surfaces otherwise, you will have to perform a second mold remediation process on items found with mold.

Mold odors and allergic reactions could be an indication that there is still mold in your house. So locate and address the mold first before you can move in.

A mold remediation expert is better equipped to inspect your house and give you a free-from-mold assurance.

Looking out for Mold Signs after a Flood

Even after proper remediation has been done, there is still a possibility of mold growing sooner or later. Flood water in many cases, does sip in the ground and will take days to dry and this will certainly have an impact on the foundation. If the foundation is affected, it is likely that the walls and floor boards will also be affected by wetness. This creates a favorable environment for mold to start growing and the initial sign, you’ll notice, is mold odor.

To prevent mold from growing in such situations, keep on a high alert for even the slightest signs of mold. Regular inspection will help you identify and address mold problems in the early stages.

What are the common places where mold grows

Common Places Where Mold Grows

Mold can potentially grow in many areas in the house. Ideally, where ever it can find the right surface, moisture and warmth. Some of the most common indoor places include –

  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Floor
  • Air ducts
  • Windows
  • Insulation
  • Clothes
  • Furniture
  • Basement

In a previous article we have already discussed, how to remove mold from a variety of different surfaces.

How to Remove Mold on Drywall, Wood, Carpet, and Tiles

This article gives insight on the signs and causes of mold in these areas as well as how to remove mold.

Mold on ordinary Walls

Mold grows differently on different types of walls. Removing mold from non-porous walls is easier than removing mold from porous walls. For non-porous walls, a quick wipe with a damp cloth is enough to remove mold. Mold killing solution like vinegar, bleach, borax etc. would be good but it’s optional.
On the other hand, porous walls like unpainted drywall require more involvement. You may have to cut out and replace the section attacked by mold because mold does not only grow on the surface but penetrates it.

Mold on Drywalls

Drywalls are made of substances that have a high quantity of cellulose in them. This causes molds to grow on them more commonly than on other surfaces. Because drywalls are porous, you may have to cut out the area affected by mold rather than clean it.

Mold behind Walls

Sometimes mold grows secretly behind walls and in wall cavities. These places are characterized by darkness, humidity, and moistness which are conditions favorable for the growth of mold.

For wall papers, molds typically grow behind where glue holds the paper onto the surfaces. Wall paper glue sometimes carries organic debris that is a source of food for the molds.

Molds behind walls are usually not noticeable unless invasive and mold testing methods are used to detect them. Such processes are best left for specialists to carry out.

Signs that Mold is growing on your Wall

Common undeniable signs of the presence of moisture in your wall include peeling paint, bulging, and discoloring. This might just as well be the start of the growth of mold or even an already existing mold behind your wall therefore keep a keen eye on walls showing this signs.

Smaller spots of mold on the wall are also another clear sign of a larger mold that could be growing on your wall from behind. Since mold penetrates porous walls, it is not unusual for mold to penetrate and show on the outer side of the wall.

Other signs of the presence of mold on your wall could be moldy odor and frequent allergic reactions like sneezing and rashes.

What Causes Mold to Grow on Walls

There are many causes of mold growth on walls but the most common are high humidity levels, condensation and concealed water leaks.

Condensation is the process of water vapor in the air converting to liquid and settling on surfaces in the form of tiny water droplets. Walls forming the perimeter of the house are more susceptible to condensation because they are exposed to cool air from outside particularly during the cold seasons or at night.

Condensation also occurs when damp clothes dry indoors or when steam is generated from hot water thereby releasing more humidity in the air. If the home stays in this state for a while, mold will begin to grow. Proper ventilation helps keep a balanced level of humidity in the home. You can open doors and windows and let your home get some ventilation.

Leaking pipes are usually not easy to be discovered yet they are another major cause of mold on walls. As pipes are fitted inside of or in between walls, when they leak and this goes unnoticed, the wall nearby is affected by wetness and eventually mold. Regular check and maintenance of the plumbing system of the house helps prevent this situation.

Mold on Ceiling and how to handle it

Mold on your ceiling may be a sign of high moisture levels or condensation or a possible leaking pipe or roof above the ceiling.

Most but not all ceiling are made of porous materials and this is a great challenge as far as mold removal is concerned. Non-porous ceilings are simply wiped with a damp cloth to remove mold. Porous ceiling on the other hand is more involving and will need the affected section to be cut out and replaced, as mold will have penetrated it.

Mold above the Ceiling

Mold that grows above the ceiling often goes unnoticed. It is usually caused by leaking roofs or pipes. Small patches of mold or mold stain on the outer side of the ceiling is a clear indication of the possibility of a larger mold colony growing on the inside.
Check out for water leaks, pipe or roof damage above the ceiling and fix the problem to prevent mold from growing or spreading.

Mold on Floor

Mold grows under the floor just the same way as it grows above the ceiling. Dirt and dust sometimes collects under the floor and these coupled with moisture create conditions favorable for growth of mold.

Tiles and carpets are usually associated with dust and dust. Carpets especially have the ability to store dust and moisture. In case of floods and water leaks, carpets take a long time to dry and this is the main reason mold grows under them.

Air Ducts and HVAC

Vents, ducts, air condition and heating systems may not only have mold growing on them but also conceal mold within them. A regular check and clean of these systems will keep mold off them.

Windows and Window Frames

Windows and window frames are usually caught between the air inside and the air outside. Therefore, it is quite common to find condensation on these surfaces. The hot air from outside hits the cool windows and frames to converts into water droplets. Now, windows are made of glass and mold usually will not grow on glass unless the glass is covered with dirt and dust.
Window frames too can have mold as a result of moisture on the glass running down the frames. For the same reasons, window seals too can have mold on them.

Insulation

Insulations attract mold especially if there has been water leaks or if the surfaces have had mold grow on them before. Clean insulation can be deceiving. A closer look will inform your decision of whether or not to treat it for mold.
Unfortunately, insulation will have to be replaced if attacked by mold as it is porous and mold will certainly penetrate it.

Clothes

Clothes need to remain dry and aerated at all time whether clean or dirty. This is because damp clothes sitting on a pile either waiting to be washed or after being washed, attract mold rather fast. It takes a day for mold to start growing on wet clothes.

Mold on Furniture

Furniture is commonly made from wood and fabric and both of these are organic material. Furniture in houses with high levels of moisture usually ends up having mold if moisture problem is not addressed.
Furniture are best placed away from the walls as this reduces air flow around them, also making them exposed to condensation. A regular check on your furniture including the lower parts will help you identify and deal with mold problems and causes.

Mold in Basement

Basements are typically dark, moisture loaded, wet, and on the lowest side compared with other rooms in the homes. Furthermore, they are the least used and poorly ventilated rooms in the home. Leaks from damaged pipes and roofs somehow often end up flowing to the basement. Also in case of floods in the area, the basement gets wet from water flowing towards it. This is why mold is more common on basements than in any other room.

For basements, mold will grow on walls, wood, frames, posts, and literally any other part. If mold goes unnoticed for some time, it can eat up and weaken frames causing more damage.

If you sense dampness, heavy moisture and are experiencing allergic reactions, then there is a possibility that mold is growing in your basement. Plan for a regular check up and maintenance of your basement as well as proper ventilation and lighting, this way you will have dealt with the mold problem.

How to prevent mold from growing inside your house

Preventing mold growth inside house

For mold to grow in a place there needs to be organic matter for them to feed on and moisture to sustain their growth. Organic matter includes drywall, wood and other materials used for construction.

As it is possible to control moisture levels in the house, maintaining low moisture will certainly prevent mold from growing.

Preventing Mold by Keeping Moisture Low

It takes one to two days for mold to start growing. If the conditions are favorable, for instance if your wooden surface remains wet beyond one day, then there is a risk of mold growing.

Preventing Mold by Repairing Leaks

Leaking roofs, pipes, and walls are known causes for the growth of mold in homes. Leaks, particularly those that go undiscovered for a while will dampen the moisture and surfaces around, causing mold to grow.

Leaks are best fixed immediately. In addition, a regular check and maintenance routine around the house will help discover leaks sooner than later.

Preventing Mold by Managing Condensation

Condensation usually takes place when water vapor in the moisture converts into liquid and then settles on cold surfaces in the form of water drops. Metal pipes, water tanks, windows, and concrete walls are common surfaces on which you’ll find condensed liquid.
Condensation does not take place in warm temperatures therefore keeping your rooms warm is a sure way of preventing condensation. Firstly, insulate your rooms and surfaces. Secondly, keep humidity levels in your home low. This way, you will be keeping temperatures warm and dry.

Preventing Mold by Maintaining Low Humidity Level

Humidity alone is enough for several types of mold to start growing. 55% of humidity and above, is what it takes for some molds to start growing. Proper ventilation in the home is a natural way of keeping humidity levels low. Keeping your windows open during the hot season and closed during rainy and cold seasons help balance humidity in the house.
Rooms with utilities that constantly generate steam and moisture like the bathroom and kitchen need to be thoroughly ventilated. Invest in an exhaust fan to keep humidity levels low when cooking and washing.
People have also invested in air cons and dehumidifiers to maintain low levels of humidity in the home and this is acceptable.

Preventing Mold by Aerating Wet Clothes

Wet clothes are a common cause of mold in the house that is why mold allergies are common in homes where clothes are hang indoor yet these rooms lack proper ventilation. Clothes should be left to dry out in the open immediately after being washed. In addition, damp clothes need to be aerated even before they are washed rather than be left in a pile.
If possible, dry clothes out in the open. Drying clothes indoor is good for the clothes but not to the atmosphere. Moisture from drying clothes usually is released and retained in the atmosphere and this increases moisture levels. Clothes’ dryers too need to release air out in the open to keep the room dry. Bottom-line, ventilation is important for any room.

How to Remove Mold

When you notice mold growing in your home or even signs of mold, just addressing moisture problems in the house is not the ultimate solution.

Mold has the ability to lie dormant for a long while after moisture has been taken out of it. Therefore, ensure that after you tackle moisture problems, also take steps to remove the mold.

Identify sources of food for mold and Clean Up to Prevent Mold

Organic matter like cotton and wood are great sources of food for mold. Mold doesn’t grow on non-porous surfaces like metal except these surfaces are lined with grease or organic matter on which mold can feed.

Porous materials that create a favorable condition for mold to grow and feed include carpet, wood, fabrics, food, ceiling tiles, dust, inside of air conditioners, paper, plasterboard, leather, and other organic materials.

A simple regular cleaning of dirt can prevent mold from growing. Dusting and vacuuming should be a part of your regular cleaning program. HEPA Vacuuming is recommended as it gets rid of the micro particles floating in the atmosphere. With a surprising 80% of mold growing on dust, HEPA Vacuuming is necessary.

Preventing Mold by Reducing Mold Spores

Mold spores are a common phenomenon in the air space, the home air not excluded. They are everywhere, in buildings and out in the open and it is not really possible to get rid of all mold spores in the air.

Nevertheless, an increased number of mold spores inside the home poses health dangers. First, by being allergenic hence causing allergic reactions and secondly, by causing mold to grow in the home. Ideally, concentration of mold spores inside should be lower than concentration outside.

Mold spores get into the homes through different means. They get in through openings such as windows, air ducts, and doors or through media such as the human skin, pets, hair, and clothing.
Practically speaking, it is impossible to eliminate all mold from the air in your home but it is possible to reduce these spores to a harmless level. By harmless we mean they will neither cause mold to grow nor cause mold related health hazard.

Regular cleaning and dusting will help keep mold spores to the minimum. Since these spores are micro particles, HEPA vacuuming is a suitable way of getting rid of them.

Preventing Mold Naturally with Sunlight

Mold thrives in dark space particularly indoor. To prevent mold from growing, allow maximum sunlight into your home during the day by drawing open your curtains.

Preventing Mold with Warmth

For mold to grow, a warm humid environment is necessary. Ideally, a temperature of 70°F (20°c) or more in a damp area is what it takes most molds to grow.
That is why air conditioners are important in the home as they regulate temperatures and as well prevent the growth of mold.

What are the main causes of mold growing in your house

Factors that cause mold to grow

The following conditions will create a conducive environment for the growth of mold in your home.

  • Moisture
  • Mold spores
  • Darkness (UV light destroys mold)
  • Source of their food like drywall, wood, and cotton
  • Warmth (mold can’t grow under hot or freezing conditions)

The main factor that causes mold to grow in the home is moisture. While the other factors will contribute, they are normal home conditions. The presence of moisture combined with these factors is what causes mold to grow in your home.

If you are looking for ways to remove and clean mold from your house check these previous articles –

Mold removal guide - Removing mold with common household cleaners
How to Remove Mold on Drywall, Wood, Carpet, and Tiles

Humidity and moisture is a major cause of mold

Mold is common in homes during rainy and humid weather. Such weather makes the air wet and this creates a favorable environment for mold to grow on surfaces.

In places like the coastal strips and highlands where humidity levels are naturally high, mold growth in homes becomes a common and recurring challenge.

Homes lacking proper ventilation also face a recurring mold challenge due to moisture evaporating within the house rather than out in the open air. Such houses will always retain humidity within their air.

Other people have gotten in the habit of hanging wet clothes indoors. Such homes have hanging lines and stands within the house and this too causes mold challenges. Household HVAC systems are also known to generate humidity while heating or cooling the air.

Humidifiers have been used in homes as a remedy to the humidity challenge. However, these are only effective where humidity is below 55%. Levels higher than this will not be remedied by humidifiers.

Humidity creates a favorable environment for mold to grow. In addition, because of humidity, water puddles and damp materials will dry rather slowly yet these wet surfaces in themselves also encourage the growth of mold.

Leaking pipes also cause mold

Leaking pipes, especially the undetected ones are another cause of mold in the home. The reason why some leaks go undetected is that pipes are hidden inside walls. These are more dangerous because the more time it takes the leaks to be discovered the faster mold grows.

Mold from Leaking Roofs

Leaking pipes and leaking roofs are more or less the same when it comes to causing the growth of mold. Leaking roofs particularly at the attic will dampen the air and surfaces around hence causing the growth of mold.

Roofs and leaks are best maintained by a regular check up. Water stains on the ceiling are an obvious sign of a leaking roof

Mold growth due to Condensation

Condensation is the process where vapor is converted into liquid. This is evidenced by beads of water collecting on a surface that is exposed to humid air.

It is common to see such beads or water on cold metal pipes, concrete floors, and walls. Such surfaces are likely to have mold growing on them.

Poor Ventilation yet another factor

Poorly ventilated homes often have humidity problems therefore attracting mold. Poor ventilation will cause permanent dampness in the air.

When steam and evaporated water are released into the air, ideally they are supposed to be fanned out to balance moisture levels. In the event there is no outlet, these two will be retained in the air within the house causing high levels of humidity.
Ventilation, especially in ever wet areas like the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen where you are likely to find steam, should strictly be observed.

Mold on Damp Clothes

Clothes, if left wet for a long time, will most likely attract mold on them and on the nearby surfaces. Again, wet clothes dampen the air in your home.

Dryers used for drying clothes in the home should be vented outside the house otherwise, they will release a lot of moisture in the air. It is recommended that people dry their damp clothes out in the open air. Some homes have indoor clothe lines and racks. Hanging clothes on such increases moisture in the home except the room is properly ventilated.

Flood causes mold

Floods have a lasting impact in the home. This is because after a flooding incident, it takes quite some time for the home to dry up completely. Since it only takes 24hrs of a favorable condition for mold to grow, it is possible that mold will grow in your house during this time.

During this time, you might find toxic molds growing in your home as these require environments that remain wet for a long time for them to grow. An example of a common toxic mold is stachybotrys chartarum.

Mold from a Damp Basement

Generally, basements are more susceptible to high moisture levels compared to other rooms in the home. Usually, they are colder and not properly ventilated. In addition, in case of water leaking or flooding in the house, the basement will always be on the receiving end due to its low position. Mold will grow and spread fast on basements because they are the most overlooked places in any home.

Mold Caused by Water from the Foundation of the House

It is common for water to collect in your yard and around the basement particularly if the ground slants towards the house. If this is not dealt with, you are likely to experience some serious mold challenges. To prevent water from collecting around your basement, dig trenches that will direct flowing water away or invest in some landscaping to level the land.

How to clean mold using vacuums and prevent it from growing again

Using HEPA Vacuum for Removal and Prevention of Mold

HEPA vacuuming removes mold spores and other allergens from the atmosphere hence reducing allergies caused by mold as well as preventing mold from growing.

About HEPA Filters

HEPA Vacuum Cleaner is different from other conventional vacuum cleaners because it comes integrated with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter which filters out up to 99.7% of small particles, size 0.3 micrometers from the air. Mold spores are measured at between 1 and 20 micrometers meaning that HEPA vacuuming will rid your house of all mold spores as well as other allergy causing particles.
For conventional vacuum cleaners, mold spores, because they are small in size, will pass through the filter and through the exhaust back into the atmosphere. HEPA vacuum cleaners on the other hand captures all mold spores storing them in the vacuum for disposal and this makes it a good option for mold removal and prevention.

HEPA Vacuuming is the Remedy for other Allergies

Because of the HEPA vacuum filter, this equipment is also good for the removal of other allergy causing particles in the air. This includes pollen, dust mite, and feces.
A regular once-a-week HEPA vacuuming in your home is recommended. This not only removes mold allergens from the air thus reducing allergic reactions, it also creates an environment that is not conducive for the growth of mold.

HEPA Vacuums during Mold Remediation

HEPA vacuuming is as important during mold remediation as it is during regular vacuuming in the home. During the mold removal and remediation process, mold spores are bound to stir up in the air and settle on surfaces. This is why if the mold removal process is to be complete, HEPA vacuuming must be part of it as the last stage. This is because it gets rid of mold spores that have been stirred in the air plus those that have settled on surfaces after remediation.

Important Tips when Purchasing a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

A good HEPA Vacuum cleaner will cost around $300. HEPA filters go with rating from H10 to H14 and this is determined by the percentage of microscopic particles that they trap. The higher the filter rating the more effective the filter will be at trapping particles and these ones, you can expect, are the more expensive.

Non-HEPA Filtered Vacuum Cleaners in Mold Removal

Conventional vacuum cleaners usually do not have the HEPA filter. Much as they are more common in homes, they do not remove mold spores and other micro particles in the air unless they are captured in dust which is what these vacuums are built to take care of. Non-HEPA vacuuming in fact stirs up mold spores and other fine allergens or if at all these will be trapped, they will only pass through the filter and back into the air. Take care not to run a non-HEPA vacuum cleaner on a patch of mold, as you will be exposing yourself to allergic reactions.

HEPA Vacuum Cleaners and Mycotoxins

Toxic mold produces mycotoxins which are quite unhealthy to human. Much as HEPA filters are effective at clearing micro particles from the air, they are not effective at removing mycotoxins in the air. Central vacuuming systems should be used instead of HEPA filters, in the removal of mycotoxins in the air. On the other hand, removing mycotoxins from surfaces like carpets can be difficult therefore, it is recommended that such a surface be replaced.

How to Remove Mold from Clothes and Fabrics

Excessive moisture in the house can lead to mould growing on clothes. Cotton and organic materials particularly, are more susceptible to mold and mildew.

Fabric Mold Removal Solutions

Totally getting rid of mold from clothes and fabric is not an easy task. Few solutions exist, that can be used to remove mold from clothes. Some examples are-

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Bleach
  • Mold killing detergents

Guidelines for Removing Mold from Fabrics

Some important general guidelines will apply when it comes to removing mold from fabric. Firstly, use hot water when washing moldy clothes. Hot water does a great deal of killing mold and eliminating mold spores as compared to cold water. Before washing in hot water, it is good to confirm that hot water will not damage the cloth otherwise look for an alternative mold removal option.

If you have opted to use a mold killing solution, do a two-cycle wash then hang your clothes under direct sunlight. The sun’s heat and UV light help in killing mold. The sun is known to have a natural bleaching effect that is good for fading stains from mold.

Removing Mold from Clothes using Bleach

Bleach serves two purposes. Removing mold from clothes and fading away stains left by the mold.
First things first, bleach is not intended for all clothes. Therefore, you have to check your cloth-labels for warnings against bleaching. Again, just to be sure that bleach is the ideal option, perform a spot test with a little bleach and water on your clothes and confirm that they are neither discoloring nor fading.

For those with the challenge of mixing water and bleach in the correct proportion, an equally good alternative is bleaching detergents like Clorox and Oxiclean.

Guidelines for washing your clothes with bleach:

  1. Place your clothes in the washing machine and then add laundry detergent.
  2. Fill water and add a cupful of bleach or the recommended quantity as indicated on the clothes’ label.
  3. Run your machine the usual way.
  4. Remove your clothes at any stage when their colors begin to fade and rinse them thoroughly.

Alternatively,

  1. Soak your clothes in a mixture of bleach and water in the ratio of a cup of bleach to a gallon of water.
  2. Give your clothes some hours in the mixture while making sure that their color is not fading.
  3. Wash your clothes normally in the washing machine using a laundry detergent.

Removing Mold from Clothes using Borax

Borax is a preferred mold killer because it is natural and non-toxic. You can use borax as a detergent by purchasing detergents with borax as an ingredient or you can use pure borax powder by mixing it with hot water. Hot water allows it to dissolve completely before you can use the mixture or washing.
Washing clothes Using Borax

  1. Place your clothes and some detergent in the washing machine
  2. Dissolve half cup of borax in hot water
  3. Add in the borax mixture once you have filled the washing machine
  4. Run your washing normally

Removing Mold from Clothes Using Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective mold killer that eliminates up to 82% of mold species. It is also very effective in eliminating moldy odor from your clothes.

Washing clothes using vinegar:

  1. Place your moldy clothes and some detergent in the washing machine and fill it with water
  2. Add in one or two cups of vinegar
  3. Continue with your washing as normal

Alternatively;

  1. Add a cup of white vinegar into a bucket of water and allow your clothes to soak in this mixture for an hour or so.
  2. Once soaked, use laundry detergent and water to wash off both the mold and vinegar from your clothes.
  3. This process may be repeated until clothes are rid of all traces of mold and moldy odor.

Preventing Mold from Attacking Clothes

Mold comes with dampness, and for clothes to be attacked by mold it means they stayed in a damp heap for some days without being hung on the lines. One way of preventing mold is drying clothes either by hanging them on the lines or in a dryer as soon as they have been washed.

Secondly, sweaty or wet clothes after being worn should be stored in such a way that they are aerated. Stuffing such clothes in the laundry basket and waiting for when you will wash them is a sure way of inviting mold to grow on them. The same procedure applies to swim suites and sweaty shoes. In addition, towels should always be hung on the line after every use.

Wet clothes are not only susceptible to mold attacks but are also a major contribution of excessive humidity in the home. Finally, your clothes drier is not an exception. It also needs to be maintained to prevent mold room growing in it. Occasionally, take the dryer out in the open to aerate it or properly ventilate the room in which you operate it, to keep moisture in drying clothes from spreading to the rest of the rooms.

Signs and Effects of Mold on Clothes and Fabrics

The first sign that you have mold on your clothes is that you will itch when you wear them. Mold causes itchiness and redness resulting in a rash where it comes into contact with the skin. Secondly, due to the allergens present in mold, you will react by sneezing.

An effect that mold has on clothing is that it digests and eventually destroys the clothes. The larger the mold on your cloth, the greater the stain, and as well the more challenging it will be to remove the stains. Mold is also associated with bad odor in clothes.

Another effect that mold will have on clothes is that it will release mold spores in the home which promotes further growth of mold and allergic reactions such as sore eyes and sneezing.

Any time you notice mold on your clothes, it’s a cinch there are more clothes with mold. Sort all your clothes and remove mold from the affected ones as soon as is possible. Take time to aerate your home and clothes regularly.

To learn more the symptoms caused by mold, check this previous article –

What are the health symptoms caused by black Mold

How to Remove Mold on Drywall, Wood, Carpet, and Tiles

In the home, mold often occurs on a variety surfaces such as wood, drywall, tiles and grout, and the carpet. And there are different ways of removing mold from different surfaces. In this post we take a look at some of the most effective ways to remove mold from different places inside the house.

1. Mold from Drywall

Unpainted drywalls unfortunately are adversely affected by molds. This is because they are porous and so you may never have your wall exactly the way it was, even after mold remediation. In a worst case scenario, you may be forced to replace the mold infested drywall.

Removing mold from drywalls

For the sake of the aesthetics, mold on a drywall is better off removed and replaced. Use a blade to hollow out the moldy area, ensuring that the area falls between two blocks of wood secure at the back of the drywall.

Cut out a new drywall same as the moldy one you have removed, to fit it where you removed the other and join it to the wooden blocks using screws. To strengthen this joint, apply a joint or drywall compound. To achieve a precise fit, take your time to measure the dimensions of the cut out before replacing.

After allowing it enough time to dry out completely, sand the area you’ve applied the joint compound to give it a neat finish. Painting is recommended as it does not only give you a uniform finish, but also prevents the surface from future attacks by molds.
It is always advisable to HEPA vacuum the room after any mold removal process to get rid of any mold pores left in the atmosphere.

Here is a quick video on how to remove mold from drywalls

How to Remove Mold from a Painted Wall

Unlike drywalls, removing mold from painted walls is quite simple. This is because paint makes the wall non-porous hence, mold only grows on the surface and doesn’t penetrate.
Simply use a suitable solution to wipe or scrub off mold from the painted wall.

2. Mold on Wood

Unpainted wood is porous so it is likely that mold will penetrate wooden surface. However, once mold is remediated from wooden surfaces, it is safe to continue using the surface. Well treated wooden surfaces will not have mold growing on them in future as long as moisture levels are maintained at their minimum.
Painted wood is far much better than unpainted wood as mold will only attack its surface without penetrating.

Cleaning Mold off Wooden surfaces

A simple wiping or scrubbing using a soft cloth or an abrasive, along with clean water and detergent is enough to remove mold from wood.

A mold killer is ideal but would be optional at this point as the aim of this process is to get rid of mold from wooden surface. Again, you never miss mold spores in your home so you may want to focus on removing mold rather than killing mold. Killing mold is a good idea but we will not fail to mention that dead mold spores also cause allergic reactions.
You can use this same mold removal process on any wooden surface.

Cleaning Mold Stain from Wood

Cleaning off mold and getting rid of mold stains are two different tasks altogether. While the former will address the main issue, the latter takes care of the aesthetic value of your surface. Mold removal doesn’t necessarily mean that you are done with your surface. Sometimes there’s stain left by the mold. However, there is no cause for worry if you have removed the mold and reduce moisture content in the room to prevent mold from reappearing.

One way of removing stain from wood is by sanding it. The only challenge is that this method is not suitable for surfaces that mold had deeply penetrated. The other option is rub some bleach on the surface to fade the stain away. This method too is not given, as there is a possibility of bleach discoloring your surface. Better to perform a spot test to confirm that bleach is the best option you have for mold stain removal.

Get rid of the moldy Wood

Where cleaning mold off your wooden surface and removing its stain is not an option, you may want to consider replacing the moldy wood. This method is best applicable where it is easier and cheaper to replace the wood rather than remediate the mold on it. Otherwise, sometimes replacement is not worthwhile.

What Next after Remediating Mold on Wood

The importance of HEPA Vacuuming the room after mold remediation should never be overlooked. This takes care of the tiny mold spores left floating in the air to prevent further allergic reactions.
To keep your wood safe, you may consider coating it with paint or a fungicidal sealant to make in non-porous and to keep mold off the surface.

3. Mold on Carpet

Wall to wall carpets are easily attacked by mold compared to other carpets. If you notice constant mold growth on your wall to wall, you might be forced to remove it completely. This is because there is no guarantee of removing all molds off the carpet and leaving it on the floor only aggravates the problem.

Mold in carpet

Mold in carpet

Mold on Wet Carpet

A carpet that has been soaked in liquid takes time to dry. To make it worse, the padding at the bottom of the carpet takes an even longer time, sometimes beyond 48hrs, to dry. This makes it susceptible to mold.

Replacing Part of Carpet

Replacing a smaller moldy part of the wall to wall can be the better option provided you don’t mind the difference that the new section will bring. Ensure that as you are cutting this section out, you include a 12-inch allowance on each side.

To prevent the growth of mold on the new section you are going to fit in, allow the floor to dry completely before you do the fitting. The importance HEPA Vacuum after every mold remediation process can never be overemphasized.

Mold on Rugs and Non-Fixed Carpets

Unlike the permanent wall to wall carpets, rugs and non-fixed carpets are a lot easier to handle. It takes simple cleaning rather than replacement, to remove mold. For best mold remediation results, let a professional carpet cleaning company or mold remediation specialist, do the job.

For the DIY enthusiasts, all you need to do is take out the carpet, spread it on a flat surface, and sluice both sides. Thereafter, use a cleaning solution or mold killer to scrub out the mold. Finish off with a thorough rinse. Once this is done, you can achieve a quick dry with the help of a wet vacuum, otherwise give it ample time to dry well under the sun. Be sure to dry both sides of the carpet to prevent mold from growing back.

HEPA Vacuum the carpet or beat it up while on the line to get rid of any mold spores and other particles left after the entire process.

4. Mold on Tiles and Grout

As far as mold is concerned, tiles are not an exception. Tiles found in wet areas like in the bathroom and kitchen sink are more prone to mold compared to the others. However, tiles are non-porous therefore cleaning mold off them shouldn’t be a difficult task.

Removing Mold from Tiles and Grout

Using a brush along with detergent or mold killing solution, scrub off the mold from your tiles or grout. In addition, commercial grout and tile cleaners are available in the market today.
Mold stains are common on grout after mold has been removed. Bleach is a good solution you can use in fading the stain but take care to perform a spot test to be sure that it is suitable for this purpose. Wear gloves to protect your hands when using bleach.

Hydrogen peroxide also does a good job so you can use it as an alternative to chlorine bleach. Another option is Oxiclean containing oxygen bleach and this is good particularly if you have a septic system. Once you have applied bleach, allow some ten minutes.

Baking soda also works pretty well with stains on tiles and is a cheaper option too. Mix a little baking soda in water then scrub it on the grout using toothbrush. Repeat the process over and over until the stain is cleared.

Once the stain is cleared, rinse off the bleach with plenty of water to leave your surface clean and stain-free.

Sometimes, stubborn stains won’t clear as fast as you expect them to. In this case try soaking paper towels in bleach and placing them on the stained section of your grout. With time, the stain should fade away.

Grout Treatment

Applying grout sealer on your grout is a good way of clearing any mold spores left after remediation and better still prevent mold from reappearing.

Replacing moldy grout is yet another alternative. Simply scrap off moldy grout using the flathead screwdriver then apply a new layer o grout mixture. Just so that you achieve maximum protection from mold, apply a top coat of grout sealer.

Conclusion

Mold Remediation – How to remove and cleanup mold

Mold Remediation – Removal and Cleanup

The recommended and most effective way of addressing wide spread, toxic mold in your home is to employ the professional mold removal and remediation services. On the other hand, small (covering an area less than 10sq.ft.) non-toxic molds can easily be removed through the simple DIY remediation process.

Mold Remediation in Summary

Below is a summary of the basic process of remedying and minimizing mold.

  1. Put on protective gear
  2. Have the mold spores under control
  3. Employ negative pressure
  4. Take out the mold
  5. Prevent mold from returning
  6. Clean your items
  7. HEPA vacuum
  8. Get rid of the mold
Mold Removal Professional

Mold removal professional working with protective equipment

Put on Protective Gear

Mold remediation will certainly unsettle mold spores, leaving them floating randomly in the air. This is why mold protective gear are vital when remediating mold.

You can at least have the following before beginning a mold remediation process.

  • Goggles
  • Protective easy-to-clean or easy-to-dispose clothes covering your entire body
  • Dust filter mask or respirator
  • Gloves

The above represent the basic protective gear one should have. However, the protective equipment to be used depends on how grave the mold problem is and how far it has spread.

Contain the Mold Spores from spreading

Containing widespread mold might mean sealing off the affected room to ensure that no mold spores will spread to the rest of the rooms. This will require clean nylon sheets fixed firmly with a duct tape on all openings such as doors.

It is important to note that as you contain mold spores, you also need to reduce dust. This is because dust particles always travel together with mold spores and this may result in mold spreading to other areas.

Use Negative Pressure

Naturally, air flows from areas with higher pressure to those with lower pressure. By creating negative pressure in the mold-affected room, you will run an exhaust fan and direct the flow of air out of a window.

This way you will create high pressure inside the room and this automatically causes air, mold spores included, to flow out through the window. Make sure your air conditioning is turned off as it may affect the remediation process.

Take Out the Mold

This process usually causes a stir up of mold spores back into the air, especially when the mold is dry. What you can do to prevent this is to dampen the mold by spraying water on it using a spray bottle.

Once this is done, use the recommended solution for your type of surface to take out the mold. Examples of some commonly used solutions are

  • Ammonia for hard impermeable surfaces
  • Bleach for hard impermeable surfaces like glass and tiles
  • Borax for all types of surfaces
  • Vinegar also good for spraying on most surfaces

To learn more about cleaning mold read the previous article here –

Mold removal guide - Removing mold with common household cleaners

Prevent Mold from Returning

If the mold remediation process is to be rated successful, this stage must not be overlooked. Cleaning all surfaces, both those that had and those that didn’t have mold, with a mold cleaning solution will prevent mold from growing again in future.

Clean Moldy Items and Protective Gear

Cleaning moldy items depends on the material they are made of. Impermeable items are often easier to clean and reuse after being affected by mold because mold does not penetrate them.
On the other hand, permeable items like books and carpet may not be as easy to clean off all mould on them. At this point, you might be forced to make a decision of whether to retain or dispose of them. For some, disposing may be a great idea because it will prevent re-growth of mold in future.

HEPA Vacuuming

HEPA Vacuuming is the process of clearing any remaining mold spores from the atmosphere. It is an out of the ordinary vacuuming process that clears very fine particles and so is suitable for removing mold spores.

It is recommended that this be done after removing mold, sanitizing all surfaces, and giving them time to dry out all form of liquid.

Dispose of the mold

This is the final step after clean-up, taking-out mold, sanitizing, and HEPA vacuuming has been done. Moldy items set for disposal as well as the contents of the HEPA vacuum must be carefully kept away in sealed plastic bags. To avoid recontamination with mold, these bags should not be dragged through the home while cleaning the rest of the rooms but be thrown out through the window and discarded.
Again, the entire mold remediation process is best done one room at a time, if the process is to be a success.

References and Resources

https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-remediation-schools-and-commercial-buildings-guide – This page has plenty of information on how to remove mold.