Most of the prevention can be done by paying attention to details that we will describe bellow.
Here are a few small tips that can prevent big problems during the winter season in northern climates like Canada:
a) Wipe off condensation build up wherever you see it, lift the blinds, move the curtains, let the windows “breathe”, air flow is important to prevent Mold growth.
b) When the days permit so, open windows and doors, try and do so on opposite sides of the house to gain good air circulation.
c) Pay attention to wet spots, basement, and ceilings on the upper level, Mold can grow on wet spots.
d) Bathroom after showers: leave the fan running and open a window if possible.
How can we prevent Mold Growth?
1. Remember what causes mold and look out for it: Mold needs organic material to be wet/damp with a lack of air flow to start growing. The airborne mold settles and it then has a good environment to grow on. A few short examples include:
Dripping water/pipe under the sink.
Wood (in most cases left by the builder) in a cold cellar or crawl space where air flow is not sufficient mold can grow on the wood.
Condensation on windows, dust that has built up, and curtains or blinds that prevent air flow.
Leak from the roof into the attic.
2. Dust control: Mold particles are smaller than dust, Mold spores “attach” to the dust particles and travels with dust. Less Dust = Less Mold.
3. Address moisture issues: Maintain the levels of humidity to limit mold growth.
4. Air Flow: We need to create air flow, especially in damp places. Lack of ventilation in the attic that has condensation problems can help mold grow.
One more common mistake that people make:
An area that has a lack of air flow is a couch set against the wall; if the humidity is relatively high, mold may grow on the organic material, the drywall, behind the couch.
5. Bathroom fans – leave them on at least 20 minutes after a shower.
Common places for Mold Growth:
Places Mold can grow that we do not look at on a regular basis:
Cold Rooms / Cellars
Under the sink
The corners of the basement
Can we remove mold with bleach?
The truth is that bleach can kill mold BUT its effectiveness does depend on the surface the mold is on. Mold can grow and be visible on both porous and non-porous materials. When dealing with mold on non-porous materials such as shower tiles, tubs, vinyl window trims, counter tops, etc. you can use bleach to kill the Mold and disinfect (there are, however, better and greener products out there).
So what about mold growing on porous materials?
Using bleach to remove Mold from porous materials like drywall and wood is said to aid in mold growth rather than in killing and removing it. Why is this so? Because when bleach is used on porous materials like drywall and wood, the Iodine structure of bleach prevents Chlorine from soaking into the materials to kill the roots of mold and to make matters worse, the water element of bleach penetrates through the surfaces and feed the roots causing the mold to grow. Basically – the bleach is “inactive”.
Take Mold Seriously, It Will Affect Your Health
Get a Mold Inspection
You should be thinking about the air quality you are breathing, that can affect your health significantly. Mold that is visible can change the air quality within the premises and that is a serious health risk to everyone, especially children and seniors. If you have cause for concern, get a mold inspection and perform an Air Quality Test (AQT), in which they take samples from around your home (or business).
Make sure a certified inspector that has experience is the one taking samples. Experience and knowledge of where the control samples should be taken from is crucial. In the winter, outside samples are bad controls. The sample of control should be taken from the inside but in the most unlikely places that Mold will grow or be present. The labs need the right benchmark to compare the samples.
If the tests show that you have an unsafe level of mold in the air, you should hire a mold removal company to perform “Mold Remediation” and then get a safe clearance issued by a third party to know you are completely safe. A mold removal or remediation company will also help you when it comes to preventing mold from returning, giving advice and suggestions as they do their work.
Conflict of interest?
Mold Removal Companies vs. Mold Inspection Companies
If you do hire a mold removal company, it should not be the mold testing company. There is a conflict of interest there. It’s like a doctor should not recommend a patient to buy a drug from a pharmaceutical company he or she owns, the same goes for mold removal. The testing company should not be the ones removing the mold and vice versa.
A third party consultant should provide a clear and detailed scope of work the remediation company can follow. The third party will then be invited after the mold removal company has completed the mold remediation, to perform a final clearance test.
Darren Gradus is the CEO of Canada’s Restoration Services located in Toronto and Montreal Canada. His company restores homes and commercial properties to better-than-original condition after water damage, as well as fire & smoke disasters. A big part of what they do is mold remediation and restoring or renovating the structure of a home or building after unfortunate incidents. Visit www.canadarestorationservices.com for more information and helpful articles.