Imagine you’re pulling into your driveway after a long day’s work. The last thing you want to do is cook dinner, but then you remember those delicious leftovers from the other day (or at least, you think from the other day). You change into your pajamas, turn on the TV, and get ready to warm up that tasty dish…only to hang your head in despair when you see that white, fuzzy growth right on top. Into the trash it goes. Looks like you’ll have to make something after all.
Mold. We’ve all experienced finding the unwanted fungi on our leftovers. But while it’s not an enjoyable experience, mold on food is usually contained and easy to dispose of. Unfortunately, sometimes mold and mildew (the early stage of mold) can also find its way into our homes. This can often lead to a much bigger problem than having to choose something different for dinner!
In Bellevue, Mold can grow quickly and thrive wherever there’s moisture. While some mold is beneficial to the environment, it can cause major health concerns for people, such as respiratory issues, sinus congestion, headaches, and irritation in the eyes, nose, or throat. Children, pregnant women, and elderly individuals, as well as those with preexisting respiratory conditions, are at a higher risk when exposed to mold in the home.
While most people associate mold with heat and humidity, winter can also be a prime season for the spread of mold spores. Snow is an inevitable part of winter here in the Wood River Valley, and while beautiful and fun, snow can also lead to water damage in homes, and as previously mentioned, mold thrives where there’s moisture. Mildew and mold can grow on a number of building materials found in almost every home, such as wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, and insulation.
As winter approaches, here are some key things homeowners can do to prevent the potential spread of mold.
- Check areas of your home that are susceptible to water damage or humidity. These typically include crawl spaces and basements, but can also include attics, so be sure to check these areas so that they remain dry during the winter months. Also, make sure you regularly inspect areas that can produce moisture, such as water heaters, refrigerators, and air conditioning units.
- Keep your bathroom clean. This may seem like a given, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the basics! Be sure to use exhaust fans or crack open the bathroom window when taking a hot shower, which of course produces moisture. Also, make sure your exhaust fans are vented to the outdoors and not to an attic or crawl space. Remember basic bathroom cleaning tips as well, such as hanging up towels so that they dry quickly, cleaning the shower after its last daily use, and buying shower curtains that dry and clean easily.
- Quickly clean up condensation. This can form on or around windows, as well as drip from pipes. Dry out the area and determine whether or not the condensation was caused by a leak or if it was the result of humidity. This will help in preventing future condensation. (Remember to also wipe down walls in the bathroom if you see condensation after a hot shower!)
- Insulate pipes to prevent freezing. If a pipe does freeze, turn off the water supply immediately and call a professional to fix it.
- Keep rain gutters clean. An overflowing rain gutter can send water into your house, and possibly cause damage to your home’s exterior as well. This is never good! Roofs are large and impermeable surfaces that lead to a large amount of water runoff when it rains or snows, so it’s vital to keep your rain gutters cleaned out and pointed away from your home, so water doesn’t pool at the base.
- Check the mortar in your basement. If cracked or defective, basement mortar needs to be replaced to prevent potential or further water damage. If you find your basement is wet or has water leaking into it, inspect the outside drainage systems as well.
- Don’t forget ventilation when cooking and cleaning! Similar with the points raised in #2, it’s important to turn on the fan over the oven when cooking, or to crack open the kitchen window when washing dishes with hot water. The steam from both of these activities causes moisture that can lead to mold and mildew if not properly ventilated.
- Be aware of your indoor humidity level. Make sure it’s below 40 percent. If you use a humidifier during the cold winter months, as many people do, make sure it doesn’t produce an excessive amount of humidity. The moisture from humidity, of course, can lead to mildew, which can then lead to mold. If your home happens to have a basement, consider getting a dehumidifier. The cold basement floor and walls, especially in the winter, can be a source of moisture build-up. Dehumidifiers control humidity levels and make it harder for mold to grow.
- Inspect your roof and siding. Leaking roofs need to be fixed immediately, as should any cracks or holes in the siding. Don’t wait until spring to address these problems if you discover them before it snows.
- Have the right tools! Most homes have a supply of cleaning products in them, so make sure you’re prepared this winter with items such as mops, rags, and disinfectants. Sometimes, just making sure you’re prepared in the most simplest of ways can save you thousands in the future!
If you do happen to discover any potential problem areas as you go through this list, if something comes up in the middle of the winter, or if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us at Elite Restoration in Bellevue, Idaho. We’ll not only get rid of the visible mold in your home, but we’ll also determine the underlying cause of it as well. This will prevent it from coming back in the future, so you can enjoy the Wood River Valley’s winter months from the comfort of your cozy – and mold-free – home!