Mold tends to form in the winter time because our homes are heated with warm air, and warm air is filled with moisture. Warm air tends to rise, so the attic can be the final rest place for heat in your home. This can lead to mold, especially if your attic isn’t insulated well. As the humidity from the warm air hits the cold underside of your roof it creates frost, which then turns to mold if left unattended…and most of us don’t venture into the attic too often! If you have an attic, take some time each year to check on it, making sure that no mold has formed. How do you know what to look for when looking for mold in your attic? Check for the following:
Colored, Shaped Spots: Look for spots on the walls, ceiling, and floor that seem out of place and are brown, green, orange, or white – these are most likely nontoxic. If it’s dark gray or black, this means it’s toxic and can spread very quickly. Besides the coloration, black mold generally forms into a circle or crescent shape.
Scents: Almost all mold has a musty odor, and sometimes even has a urine smell.
Location: Mold typically only grows on material that it can feed off, like wood or newspaper. Some metal can become discolored over time and can look similar to mold, but it usually will not develop mold.
If you do this inspection and discover winter mold, there are a few steps you can take to get rid of it and prevent winter mold from returning:
1. Clean Your Attic
You can get rid of most molds by simply using a sponge and a basic mold cleaner from the store. Make sure your space is well-ventilated, wear a mask, and wear gloves. If desired, sport some safety goggles too! Simply apply the mold cleaner to the affected areas and wipe it down using the sponge. If you have a large amount of mold that’s taking awhile to clean, make sure to take a break from time to time.
2. Adjust Your Attic’s Temperature
The temperature of your attic can play a major role in the formation of winter mold, so after cleaning it up, make sure you do what you can to prevent its return. Adjusting the temperature can reduce the level of moisture in the space. A budget-friendly way to do this is to use a portable fan or two in the attic. You can also install a window air-conditioning unit if your attic has a window or use a portable air conditioner. Finally, if it’s in your budget and you have central air already, have professionals extend it into your attic.
3. Get New Storage Bins
Many people use attics as extra spaces for storage. If this is you and you’ve had mold before, your storage bins may have been exposed. It’s worth getting plastic storage bins over cardboard boxes, as cardboard is a moisture magnet and will inevitably lead to mold in the future. Invest in the durable plastic bins with lids. You can get these at any retail store for usually under $15 a piece, and they come in various shapes and sizes.
4. Fix Roof Leaks
If there’s a noticeable leak in your roof that’s caused your mold problem, you’ll want to get that fixed as soon as possible. Depending on the nature of the roof, you can patch it yourself by visiting your local hardware store, or you can hire a professional.