Mold, mildew can pose serious threats to you, your home


If your New Year’s resolutions included healthy lifestyle changes, you may want to add another one to your list: Rid your house of mold and mildew.

Across the nation, 50 percent of homes contain problem molds. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that in our cold and wet coastal climate, that percentage is probably a lot higher.

A 1999 Mayo Clinic study pegged nearly all the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to molds. In addition, recent studies have linked molds to the tripling of the asthma rate over the last 20 years.

Perhaps you’ve even read newspaper or magazine articles about certain types of potent molds such as stachybotrys ruining the health of entire families and driving them from their homes, which are then labeled biohazards.

While that may be the extreme example, as prevalent as mold and mildew are, they aren’t to be taken lightly.

MOLD PROBLEMS RISING

As our electricity bills go up, so, local doctors report, have sinus infections. The likely culprit? Folks trying to save money by turning heat off or lowering heat in certain areas of the house.

It makes sense to add a sweater and watch your thermostat to save some money. But if you get too extreme in keeping the heat down, you may pay with a mold infestation and visits to the doctor.

One of your best defenses to keep mold and mildew out of your house is to make sure you don’t help create a nice home for it.

The best way to do that is to control moisture. Yes, we’re back on our high horse about moisture control in houses. Mold is just one of the detrimental effects of excess moisture in the home. So, tackling the problem of proper ventilation is critical.

WHAT IS MOLD?

Molds are a subset of the fungi family and are an essential part of the world’s ecological system. (That doesn’t mean they need to take up residence in your home, though!)

This small plant comes in a variety of sizes and colors, including, black, white, green and brown, and slowly consumes what it is living on – wood, paper, leather, wallboard, household dust, carpet, foods, etc.

To reproduce, mold produces tiny spores that waft through the air continually. When a mold spore lands on a damp spot indoors, it may begin growing and digesting whatever it is growing on.

Favorite spots for mold include damp areas where it is hard to get good air circulation such as unvented bathrooms, closets and kitchens, crawl spaces, utility tunnels, gym areas and locker rooms, wet foundations, leaky roof areas and damp basements.

Sustained mold growth requires moisture, a food source (any organic material, like sheetrock, will do) and a suitable temperature, generally in the range of 40 to 100 degrees.

WAYS TO AVOID MOLD

Here are some specific ways to avoid mold growth in your house. Next week we’ll talk more about how to remove it once it’s made a residence in your residence.

• Take note of musty odors, look for signs of mold and get rid of the moisture source.

• Watch for condensation and wet spots and eliminate sources of moisture.

• Prevent moisture resulting from condensation be either increasing surface temperature or reducing moisture levels in the air. To increase the temperature, insulate or increase the circulation of heated air. To reduce moisture levels, repair leaks and increase ventilation.

• Vent clothes dryer and all bath and kitchen fans to the outdoors.

·•Clean and dry any wet or damp areas within 48 hours.

• Install 6mil. black plastic on the bare soil under your house.

• Provide drainage for roof rainwater and maintain the ground with a slope that drains water away from the foundation.

• Repair water leaks in the building as soon as possible.

·• Do not store organic materials such as paper, books, clothes, etc., in humid locations such as unconditioned basements.

Well, that should give you something to look for and think about this week as you inspect your house for mold.

Next week we’ll give your more information on this insidious plant including the best ways to destroy it once you’ve found it.

Thanks for help with the survey

We are grateful for the help of businesses and individuals in our recently completed survey.

As you may remember, this fall we conducted a survey of 200 homes in South Aberdeen as part of our information gathering for our parent organization, NeighborWorks of America. The folks there want to be able to demonstrate to Congress the impact its 250 organizations – such as NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor – have on their communities.

To help encourage people to participate, we offered six $100 VISA gift cards in a prize drawing for anyone in the target neighborhood who completed a survey.

On Jan. 15, representatives from the financial institutions that sponsored the prizes each drew an entry from the box. All the winners have already been notified. They are Dixie Miles, Bonnie Gilovich, Cari Jo Godfrey, Dannette Cady, Mike Orth and one who is choosing to remain anonymous. Our generous sponsors for these prizes were Timberland Bank, Bank of the Pacific, Twin Star Credit Union, Great Northwest Federal Credit Union, Anchor Bank and Wells Fargo.

We are so grateful for everyone who filled out a survey, for our prize sponsors and especially for Randy Dennis and the employees of the Dennis Company for their help and cooperation during the survey.

Thank you all.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen

 

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