Homeownership! The dream of having a space that is all your own, that you can decorate as you see fit, raise your kids in, and carve out a little piece of the American dream in is something we all desire when we think of owning a home. Having many years of family dinners, holidays with everyone you love gathered around, and making memories in your home is most people’s idea of a good life.
Homeownership has another side, however, and that’s the maintenance that comes with it. In a perfect world, we’d all like to own a maintenance-free home, but unfortunately that’s just not possible. However, with some vigilance you can help prevent one of the most common household problems: mold in the crawl space or attic of your home.
The Truth about Mold
Scare tactics have been plentiful in the press for the last few years regarding mold, but the truth is that mold exists everywhere. It is virtually impossible to have a “mold free home”, though there are ways to reduce mold spores in the home via filtration systems and vigilant cleaning. Mold exists everywhere on the planet. Even in the most remote and uninhabited areas mold spores can be detected in the air.
Interesting facts about mold:
- Mold is tiny. The spores, which are the germination of the mold, are extremely small and anywhere from 2-20 microns in size. To give you an idea just how tiny that is, 2500 mold spores can sit on the head of a pin.
- Mold is durable. Because of the tiny size, it can travel great distances. It can move easily through tiny cracks in the wall, through HVAC vents, and by the wind. In the right conditions, it’s hearty enough to survive for many years.
- Mold can eat just about anything. If it’s organic, mold considers it a meal source. Fabric, wood, paper, food, human skin, hair. You get the picture. Mold is not picky and when it finds a good food source it will multiple. Mold can grow almost anywhere; however, it prefers a more tropical climate. If you give it a warm, dark space and a constant food source, mold can grow at an astounding rate.
- Mold can make you sick. While it takes a significant amount of mold to make people seriously ill, mold can present a very real health hazard in your home. The elderly and the young can be very much at risk to the effects of mold. Watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and a feeling of being “fuzzy headed’ are all signs of being sensitive to mold.
Because it only needs food and oxygen to prosper, mold could be growing in your home that you are unaware of. How can you tell? Frequent home inspections. Every quarter, make an inspection of the attic or crawl space in your home to see if there are telltale signs of water damage.
Mold in Attics
Attics are a perfect breeding ground for mold because they are uninhabited, dark and warm due to the lack of heating and cooling vents in them. If the attic has improper ventilation, poor construction, or windows that are not properly sealed they are the perfect conduit for rain and moisture to make their way in. Once every few months, or after major rain storms or snowfalls, check your attic thoroughly for signs of moisture.
Mold in Crawl Spaces
Crawl spaces without insulation or vapor barriers installed are a danger for mold growth and are a serious threat to the foundation of your home. It’s important that a crawl space is ventilated year-round to prevent the excess moisture building up and pooling on the walls and ceiling of the crawl space. Think of a cold pitcher of water outside on a hot day; the condensation on the outside of the pitcher is essentially what you have inside your home – this is like Disneyland for mold! In the most severe cases the mold can begin to rot beams and structures.
Moisture Always Means Trouble
If there’s one thing we would like you to remember, it’s that in a home moisture always means trouble. Water never fixes itself, it just finds somewhere else to go and causes more damage on the way. Whether it’s water in your crawl space or under your kitchen sink, if it’s not attended to it can go from an annoying home repair to a costly remediation.