There are thousands of species of the fungi commonly known as mold. Mold exposure, especially for those with asthma or mold sensitivities, poses a serious risk to your home and family. Everything from yourself, to your pets to even your belongings can be harmed due to mold exposure. So what exactly are the health risks of mold exposure? Let’s look at the impact of mold and how to keep your home mold free.
Basements have a lot of nooks and crannies, but the biggest space to watch out for is your crawl space. This large, open area is a magnet for moisture and pests due to its size and how infrequently it’s accessed. Many homeowners run into crawl space waterproofing issues because their home wasn’t properly waterproofed in the past.
If you’re tired of mold growth or other moisture-related problems, read on to learn about the most common issues with crawl space waterproofing and how to keep moisture out once and for all.
Keeping water out of your house is a priority for every homeowner. Unlike foundation cracks or other damage, most homeowners aren’t surprised to learn their basement windows are a major risk factor for water intrusion. Waterproofing window wells and the windows inside of them is an important step toward keeping your basement safe from the weather.
Find & Clean the Source
The longer you wait to attack a musty basement smell, the harder it will be. Hunt through your entire basement until you locate the cause. There are plenty of places where it might be hiding – behind walls, along your tiling, or in a crawl space. Leave no box unturned and you’ll eventually find the mold or mildew, that could be growing on your floors, walls or anything stored nearby.
How you clean the mold or mildew will depend on the surface where you found it. Some cleaners are better than others – you don’t want to damage your paint or floors while cleaning the mold away. You can typically use a bleach-water combination to wipe away mold and its remnants. Finish off by rinsing the bleach away with water, and thoroughly drying the area.
Keep in mind that you’re only cleaning up the visible part of the mold. There will be more mold under the surface. Now that you know where the moisture is and the area is clean, you can assess the breach. If it’s a small crack less than 1/8”, you may be able to
fix it with a small amount of waterproofing compound
Before you tackle your mold problem, you’ll want to wear some protective gear to prevent illness. Not all mold is inherently dangerous, but identifying which type of mold you have is usually more difficult than simply looking at it. Inhaling mold spores can cause anything from simple allergic responses to severe sickness – for you or your pets.
Your mold-busting gear should include:
- Breathing mask
- Goggles or protective eyewear
- Waterproof gloves
All of these will help you prevent unnecessary contact with your mold. In addition to protective equipment, we recommend opening windows and improved ventilation as you will be working with chemical cleaners.
How to Clean Mold off Walls
Before you clean the mold off your walls, make sure you know what type of wall you’ll be cleaning. You don’t want to cause more damage, and how you clean drywall will be different than how you clean a concrete wall:
Cleaning Mold Off Concrete or Brick Walls
If mold appears on concrete or brick walls, it’s very simple to clean it off, though it might be an indicator of a crack in your foundation. You will need to use a cleaning agent that is antimicrobial, which you can purchase at almost any hardware store or even make yourself. Once you’ve put on your protective equipment, simply scrub the moldy surface with the cleaner until it’s completely wiped away. Some specialized cleaners will have additional instructions – if you’re purchasing a cleaner from the store, make sure to follow its directions closely.
One way to reduce your chances of dealing with moisture problems in your stone or brick basement is DuraShield. These panels create a barrier against moisture, insulating your basement walls and giving it a finished look with no maintenance required.
Cleaning Mold Off Painted Walls
Mold is common in rooms that have a lot of moisture – like your bathroom or basement. Ideally, these rooms should be painted with water-resistant “wash-and-wear” type paint that will prevent mold from growing deeper than the surface. It also makes it easier to clean when you do spot growing mold.
If you plan to use store-bought mold remover, make sure the formula is mild enough to minimize any damage to your paint. It’s possible, based on the severity of the mold, that you may have to repaint or even replace part of the wall. With the mold remover and a rag or towel, spray the affected area and scrub the mold. You may have to do this multiple times. Afterwards, spray water on the area and wipe it with a new towel or rag to clear the surface of any remaining mold remover.
Cleaning Mold Off Unsealed Drywall
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to clean mold off unsealed drywall. Drywall is porous, which means the mold may be visible on the surface, but it’s also growing inside the pores. Without water-resistant paint, it’s very likely that by the time you notice the mold, it’s already inside the drywall too. You can look for mold by cutting inspections holes into the drywall. Remove the insulation and use a mirror to inspect the other side of the drywall.
If mold is growing on the insulation, it will need to be removed and replaced. Likewise, if you find that your drywall has mold beneath the surface, you will need to remove and replace it as well.
Unless you’re trained in mold remediation, the most you can do is temporarily reduce the overall mold growth by using a mold removing cleaner and scrubbing the visible mold away. You will need to contact your local mold experts for an inspection to discover the full scope of your mold damage. Even if you clean away all the mold, if it still has a source and some mold remains, it will continue to grow back.
Sometimes with porous surfaces, you will have trace amounts of mold that you can’t remove. If that’s the case, your only option may be mold encapsulation. To encapsulate mold, purchase a mold sealant and apply it to the mold after you’ve done everything to clean and scrub it away. This should be used as a last resort if the mold can’t be removed and the surface the mold is on cannot be replaced. If you think you need to do this, you should first contact a mold professional to make sure you don’t risk making the problem worse.
It’s often surfaces like brick or wood that will require encapsulation. Non-porous surfaces, or those that can be easily replaced like drywall should never need to be encapsulated.
DIY Mold Removal Cleaner
If you only see a small amount of mold and don’t want to purchase a mold remover, you can also create your own mold removal solution from common household products. The most common solution is simply a mixture of ¼ cup of bleach with 2 cups of warm water. Pour this combination into a spray bottle and it functions similarly to a store-bought cleaner.
Identifying the Source of the Mold
After you clean away any visible mold, it’s critical that you backtrack and find the source. Without correcting the cause of the mold, it’s guaranteed to come back.
The best way to fight mold is to prevent it
But how do you know which molds are dangerous and which are benign? It starts with knowing the properties of mold and understanding the symptoms they can cause. Read on and learn about house molds that could be affecting your family right now!
Stachybotrys Atra: Infamously Known as the “Black Mold”
Stachybotrys atra, or Stachybotyrs chartroom, is a specific type of toxic mold. This is what most people refer to when they say, “black mold.” While sometimes found in grain or soil, it’s much more frequently found in building materials that are rich in cellulose – often following water damage. High moisture content is a requirement for black mold to grow, so it is unlikely to be found in homes that are properly inspected and have been protected through waterproofing services.
This species of mold appears black or dark green, and has a unique shiny looking surface. Some would describe it as slimy-looking, but if it dries it often becomes gray and powder-like. The problem is when it comes to black mold identification, the only real way to confirm if it’s the dangerous, toxic species is with a microscope. Many different molds have similar appearance to Stachybotrys atra. Only with careful examination by an expert, practicing caution, can the species be accurately identified.
Low levels of Stachybotrys atra tend not to have any effect, though if you’re immuno-compromised it’s more likely to cause symptoms. Larger volumes of the mold lead to higher exposure, which can cause a variety of symptoms sometimes referred to as Toxic Mold Syndrome:
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- Throat irritation
- Asthmatic Attacks
- Chronic Fatigue
- Persistent Headaches
These symptoms usually diminish or clear completely soon after removing the mold and its source.
Black mold affects animals too. While you may not notice a small spot of mold growing in that dark corner of your basement, you can be sure your pet will! Their curious nature may lead them to direct contact with the mold, causing illness or other reactions. If you have pets, keep an eye out for symptoms and take them to the vet immediately! Then,
contact a professional to inspect and locate the source of your mold problems.
That means you need to allergy proof your basement, and you’ll need to know where to start. EverDry Toledo can help! Read this list to learn the steps you can take to reduce your chances developing mold in the basement.
#1. Use a Dehumidifier
Excessive moisture creates the ideal environment for mold in the basement and dust mites. By reducing the moisture levels, you can make it difficult for them to thrive in your basement. When using your dehumidifier, you’ll want to aim for 35-45% relative humidity. Higher humidity is what promotes molds and dust mites, but if the humidity is too low it can promote viruses.
#2. Improve Ventiliation with the E-Z Breathe System
The E-Z- Breathe System can improve your air quality with no regular maintenance required. Once installed, this unit protects your home from poor air quality, as well as molds, toxins, and allergies. Learn more about improving your home’s atmosphere with the E-Z- Breathe System.
#3. Immediately Remove Mold in the Basement
This may seem obvious, but even the tiniest bit of mold needs to be removed as soon as possible. Never let the problem get out of hand and you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.
While some people believe musty smells are typical for basements, they’re not – they’re only a strong indicator of mold or mildew. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there! The moment you think you notice the smell of mildew or mold in the basement, identify the source and remove it.
#4. Replace Carpeting
Wall-to-wall carpeting may look nice in your basement, but it can absorb a lot of moisture over time. To prevent allergens, consider basement floor options like cement, slate, or linoleum. There are plenty of ways to keep your floor looking great without the need for carpet – and almost any other option reduces your risk of promoting mold in the basement.
#5. Fix Plumbing Leaks as Soon as Possible
Small leaks can be dealt with on your own with the right DIY knowledge, but sometimes the small problems are indicators of a bigger issue. It’s always best to call a professional to safely deal with any plumbing issues before they become disasters. Take every leak or break seriously, as water can quickly cause damage that requires costly repairs.
#6. Fix Cracks in the Foundation Immediately
It’s critical that you keep the foundation secure. A small crack inside of the foundation often means more cracks on the outside – and these all lead to water seepage that can not only foster basement allergens, but also cause severe damage to your home or property. If you notice cracks, contact us and we may be able to help prevent further leaks with
foundation crack injections
Frozen pipes can be more than a temporary inconvenience. Left unchecked, a frozen pipe could burst, leading to significant water damage and creating an environment where mold can thrive. But by following simple winterizing steps, you can keep your plumbing intact despite the freezing temperatures.
Tip #1: Turn Off Your Water Supply
What is Toxic Mold Syndrome?
Toxic black mold produces neurotoxins – chemicals that damage neurons in the brain and impair a person’s mental ability. Exposure to these neurotoxins can cause symptoms such as:
- muscle pain, cramps, burning, unusual shooting (ice pick-like) pains
- fatigue, weakness, flu-like symptoms, fever, chills
- shortness of breath, cough
- abdominal pain, diarrhea
- chronic sinusitis, sore throat
- burning eyes, red eyes, sensitivity to light
- difficulty with thought processes, anxiety, memory loss, loss of concentration, confusion, disorientation, “brain fog”
- dizziness, balance problems
- metallic taste in mouth
- numbness and tingling
- night sweats
- temperature regulation problems
- excessive thirst and urination
- excessive menstrual bleeding
- flushed face
- chest pains
- kidney disease
In rare, but extreme cases, Toxic Mold Syndrome has even been linked to death!
Toxic Black Mold grows naturally in our environment, usually out of doors. But when conditions are right – dark, warm, and humid – it will thrive indoors because the cellulose contained in many building materials is an excellent source of food.
Since Toxic Black Mold cleanup can dangerous and costly, it should only be done by professionals. However, with a few simple preventive measures, you can save yourself and your family a lot of headaches (both literally and figuratively).
How Can You Prevent Toxic Mold Syndrome? Follow These 5 Tips!
Keeping your family safe from Toxic Black Mold isn’t difficult; it’s a matter of making your home inhospitable to molds of any type. Here are 5 ways you can accomplish that:
Check water pipes for leakage and sweating on a regular basis.
Sweating pipes can be easily eliminated with an inexpensive insulation kit available at most hardware stores. If you’re remodeling rooms that need a water exchange, make sure that pipes are wrapped in insulation and that there is absolutely no leakage before the wall is sealed. Consider wrapping basement pipes, as well; sweaty basement pipes are easily overlooked, making them a frequent contributor to mold growth.
Monitor indoor humidity levels.
If areas of your house tend to be humid – particularly in the basement – keep an eye on the humidity levels. Mold likes to grow in humidity levels above 60%. If you don’t have a thermostat with a humidity gauge, you can purchase an inexpensive one for about $30. In rooms with high humidity levels, add a dehumidifier to help keep them comfortable and mold free.
Check the attic on regular intervals, especially during the damp months.
Although mold cannot eat attic insulation, it loves the backing attached to it. Check for signs of moisture and keep the air in the attic circulating to prevent mold from taking up residence. Use a flashlight to look for signs of moisture. If your attic seems more humid than it should be, install an attic fan.
Look outside the house, too.
Piles of leaves, trees and shrubs, and other landscaping around the home can harbor black mold. Check these areas on a regular basis and remove any accumulated organic debris. While you’re there, you can multitask and check your foundation for cracks and settling.
Don’t forget your roof.
After a bad storm or high winds, take out a pair of binoculars and scan your roof for loose shingles. When shingles become loose, it’s easy for moisture to get in and set the stage for mold growth. Repair any loose shingles as soon as possible.
Concerned About Mold in Your House?
If you suspect that mold may be invading your home, Team EverDry is here to help! Contact us online or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 to schedule
a free 20-point basement inspection
Just like you, your dog, cat, or even bird can have a reaction to household mold exposure. And, just like you, their reaction can range from mild to devastating. In fact, pets are actually much more susceptible to the effects of mold because they tend to be smaller, and their respiratory systems are usually more sensitive than most people.
Pets & Mild Mold Exposure
Pets are curious, plain and simple. They’ll explore every nook and cranny of your house, and that’s exactly where mold likes to grow – in the unseen nooks and crannies.
Unfortunately, your pet can’t tell you if he or she is suffering from an allergy to indoor mold. But you can interpret their symptoms. Allergies related to mold exposure cause similar reactions in dogs and cats, and include:
- Itchy, red, moist, or scabbed skin
- Increased scratching
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy ears and ear infections
- Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
- Paw chewing/swollen paws
- Constant licking
Cats will often show increased anxiety if they suffer from allergies. Birds with allergies will typically pluck out or damage their feathers as they try to relieve their skin irritation.
If your pet shows these symptoms, make an appointment with the vet for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Then do a little detective work and to find out where your pet might be finding the mold. Prime areas to search are basements and crawl spaces, attics, and drain areas around your sink, shower, or bathtub. Also, check around window areas, which quickly turn into a mildew haven if the humidity level in the house is above what it should be.
Pets & Black Mold
Toxic black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, made headlines in 2007 when a veterinarian diagnosed it as responsible for the death of two cats. The cats had undergone routine dental work under anesthetic, only to die from fatal lung hemorrhages.
Black mold produces a mycotoxin (a toxic chemical produced by a fungus) that, when circulated in the bloodstream, causes cell death and damages the liver. The damaged liver has difficulty in producing the proteins necessary for blood to clot, resulting in uncontrollable nosebleeds, blood in bodily waste, or fatal hemorrhages from the lungs.
Like typical household mold, toxic black mold grows best in warm, damp conditions and is found in many countries throughout the world. Outdoors, it grows in soil and on plant debris. Indoors, toxic black mold thrives on material high in cellulose and low in nitrogen. This means toxic black mold can grow on many common indoor building materials such as wood and drywall.
When toxic black mold does grow in the home it’s usually in a place out of sight. Toxic black mold needs a lot of moisture for a long time before it can begin to grow. This is why it often grows where there has been a water leak hidden from view. Leaks inside walls, above ceilings, or under floors are common causes of toxic black mold.
The symptoms of black mold infection in pets range from allergic type sniffles to joint pain and blood clotting problems. They include:
- Runny nose
- Lameness (because of bleeding in the joints)
- Skin rashes and sores (on thin-furred areas such as the belly or armpits in pets)
- Loss of appetite
If you see these symptoms in your pet, take them to see a vet immediately!
What You Can Do
After you’ve taken your pet to the vet, it’s time to call in an expert for your home. If you suspect that mold may be invading your home, Team EverDry is here to help! Contact us online or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 to schedule
a free 20-point basement inspection