Stop Mold from Growing In Your Fridge – 7 Awesome Tips!

How many times have you seen mold growing on the food in your fridge?

 

Probably too many times to count. Besides food, it actually it grows anywhere in the home as well… including all surfaces when the conditions are suitable. Regardless of how clean and fresh your fridge is, mold will eventually begin to grow unless we manage it.

 

Why Is Mold Growing In Your Fridge?

 

I’ll tell you why in two words… Bacteria and moisture. Excess moisture from the cold temperatures coupled by the bacteria, which grows from expired food or spillage, is the perfect environment for mold to start growing in the fridge.

 

It this article, I’m going share with you 7 awesome tips to help you stop, or reduce as much as possible that nasty mold from growing in your fridge.

 

I have interchanged the words fungal and microbial to represent the “M” word.

 

1. The Foods (listed below) That Should Not Be Stored In The Fridge

 

Tomatoes – Aside from changing the structure of the tomato, the fact is they just don’t last as long, become wrinkled prematurely and most certainly begin to rot faster.

Onions – The problem with putting onions in the fridge is that they can become mushy, soft, slimy and your guessed it… fungal!

Bread – Bread should be stored the same way it arrives from the supermarket, so keep it on the counter or the freezer if you cannot eat it all. Bread can actually dry out in the fridge or grow microbial bodies if enough condensation forms.

Garlic & Ginger – When you store garlic and ginger in the fridge, they will rot due to the moisture. In addition, the garlic will start to sprout.

Pumpkin – Pumpkin should be used up right away once opened, not in the fridge, as it is very moist. They should be placed in well vented, dark, cool (but not cold) area.

Cucumber – Refrigerated cucumber will decay and rot a lot faster in the fridge. So keep them at room temperature where they like it best. You’ll like them better that way too.

Potatoes, Yams & Sweet Potatoes – These three starch buddies would much rather hang out in a cool, not cold area. Storing them in paper bags work well, which allows them to breathe.

Refrigeration causes the starch to change into sugar rapidly. Once cut open they can succumb to fungal doom as noted in the featured picture.

Cereal and Grains – These items should always be placed in a dry space. The moisture and cool temperatures will cause them to spoil.

Mold infected food can make us sick when we unknowingly eat or smell it. Minor issues can result in allergic reactions, while mycotoxin producing fungi can be much more problematic, health wise.

In fact, even a tiny bit of growth on a tomato, for example, can infect that entire piece of food.

Really? Yup, and here’s why… In simple terms, mold grows and spreads through long thread like structures. These are known as hyphae. They cannot be seen by the naked eye, so there is really no way to know at a glance how much or the tomato has been affected.

So the next time you see a little bit of green fuzzy microbial growth on a yellow pepper, don’t cut out the infected area, just chuck it!

 

2. Quickly Use Raw Meat, Fish or Poultry

 

These foods tend to grow bacteria or may in fact be partially infected due to processing, so try to use them within one or two days. This is to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, when left unchecked, could lead to severe heath issues.

 

3. Inspect Your Groceries Twice – At The Store & At Home

 

Sometimes not all of your food items are as fresh as you’d like them to be. Putting infected food inside the fridge will cause fungal spreading and infect other food.

So, it is a good habit to check your food before you leave the store, and at home as well… especially the items that were packed in bags or boxes (which could not be inspected at the store)

 

4. Clean Out The Fridge Every 2-3 Months

 

We tend to forget about that baked lasagne from uncle Ken’s birthday two weeks ago. I know that we all do this, yes, me included.

Left-overs should be treated with respect and consumed quickly (within 3 to 4 days) or they will become poisonous and eventually turn into what I call mold-overs. There is nothing worse for food than to shoving it to the back of the fridge, only to be neglected and chucked out… Just say’n.

When you open the fridge and notice an awful odour, don’t ignore it like yesterday’s laundry. Instead, find where it is coming from so you can deal with it immediately.

The more often you clean out & sanitize your refrigerator, the better. Be sure to take everything out of the fridge. Of course, discard anything that is rotten or expired.

Yes… this even includes that cucumber Parmesan salad dressing that was cracked open four years ago for aunt Becky’s baby shower.

Individually clean all removable parts from the fridge, and dry them completely before putting them back. You can use a solution of vinegar, dish soap and water, or buy a solution from the hardware store.

Make sure that you check that all store bought cleaners are safe, and environmentally friendly. A final wipe down with baking soda and water will help remove any remaining odours.

 

5. Place A Box of Baking Soda In Your Fridge And Freezer

 

This will help absorb and remove unpleasant odours. Open up the entire top end and place in an area were it is not likely to fall over, like on the door shelf. For best results, replace the box after 3 months.

Although mold will not grow in a working freezer the baking soda will better circulate to remove odours in there as well.

 

6. Defrost, Thoroughly Clean and Wipe Dry Your Travel or Storage Refrigerators.

 

After the fridge has been unplugged and defrosted, clean all removable components such as shelves and trays, just as you would with your kitchen fridge. Of course, it should be bone dry after it has been cleaned.

When you are ready to use it again, keep the door open for a while to allow for some ventilation. If it is dirty or dusty, it will need to be cleaned again.

In the unfortunate circumstance where mold has taken over your fridge (usually after it has been unplugged and shut without a proper clean) I recommend replacing it, rather than cleaning it; especially if anyone who was going to use it has fungal allergies or sensitivities.

 

7. Only Use Air Tight, Sealed Containers

 

When storing using zip lock bags, try to remove as much air from the bag as possible. This will help keep your food fresh for longer, without absorbing bacteria, mold spores, etc.

Glass containers are best for meat, fish, veggies and poultry. Cheese can be wrapped up in wax paper, stored in cheese bags or cheese paper.

 

The Big Take Away…

 

  • Save some space in the kitchen for the foods that shouldn’t be refrigerated.
  • Inspect your food at the grocery store and at home before placing it into the fridge.
  • Toss out old food, and use perishables as soon as possible to prevent bacterial and microbial contamination.
  • Thoroughly clean your kitchen fridge out ever few months.
  • Storage fridges and small travel fridges should be thoroughly cleaned and dried out before use.
  • Baking soda is awesome for absorbing odours… use it all year long
  • Seal all food items tightly to maintain freshness!

 

For detailed information about potential heath related issues caused by mold, check out this post https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-and-health

 

If you liked this article or found it useful, share it with everyone who has a fridge…

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Attic Mold – Questions & Answers

As a mold inspector, attic mold is one of the most common issues that I come across in the field, and not surprisingly the topic of much debate and questions.

In this article I will detail the most common questions and answers regarding attic mold, while providing some advice on how to deal with it.

Why do we get attic mold?

Just like mold found anywhere else in the home, it needs a moisture source, moderate temperature and an organic food source to grow. There are a number of sources that can contribute to this. Due to past construction methodologies, weather conditions, lack of maintenance and mismanagement of the attic space, I have listed the most common reasons below…

Newer Building Materials – Older roofing installations (60-100 years +) allowed for more air and heat to escape, thus reducing the chances for concentrated moisture to develop into mold. However, OSB and plywood (newer materials) are less mold resistant.  The move to manufactured materials rather than traditional wood products, combined with poor ventilation design has resulted in moisture into the attic, while sustaining a perfect environment for attic mold to flourish.

Poor & Missing Ventilation – Attics require proper ventilation to allow air to flow both from the soffits (exterior vents along the perimeter of the home, below the roof line) and out through roof or ridge vents. In addition, air that escapes from the home below (also known as stack effect) will need to be vented as well. When soffit vents are blocked or missing, airflow is not possible. This allows areas of the attic to form condensation, thus, providing the necessary moisture source for mold growth. Other issues include poor vent design, which can cause vents to compete for airflow, especially with gable vents (wall vents in the attic). Attic mold can claim residence anywhere moisture accumulates in the attic.

Improper Attic Ducting: Laundry, Kitchen & Bathroom Ventilation – Often, the ducts inside the attic are made of outdated (plastic) materials, which are susceptible to damage. Damaged, disconnected or unsealed ducts will discharge warm humid air. When this happens, it comes in contact with the cooler sheathing surface, allowing moisture to develop and eventually mold growth.

Inadequate or missing Insulation – Missing insulation keeps the attic cold in the winter and warmer in the summer. This combined with warm air leakage through voids along the attic floor (ceiling lights, attic hatches, fans, electrical conduit pathways & piping cut outs) contributes to moisture and attic mold.

Rainwater Ingress, leaky roof – As the name suggests, small leaks can saturate the sheathing and to allow mold growth.

Low roof slope – When the decking or sheathing is not sufficiently angled, airflow is compromised, so condensation forms more easily along the underside of the sheathing or decking. This problem will be compounded when the soffits are blocked or missing, as mentioned above.

Night Sky Radiation, Condensation – The strange phenomenon looks like patches of dark moisture staining and possible mold growth along the sheathing. In the Pacific Northwest, it seems to appear primarily on the North side of the attic.

This issue is common with newer tighter homes… leaving homeowners frustrated and builders puzzled because it occurs in attics that have actually been designed according to recommended code specifications and proper venting.

According to research conducted by RDH (A Vancouver based engineering firm) this happens when the roof sheathing temperature drops lower than the dew point temperature, resulting from a cold night sky. Frost develops on the roof, even though the temperature is above freezing. The sheathing absorbs the condensation, while the subsequent moisture once again, leads to attic mold. Check out a link to their study here

Does attic mold affect your health?

Fortunately, mold growth in the attic is not usually a health concern. The reason for this is because warm air rises from lower areas of the home, upward into the attic through voids in the upper level ceiling, rather than into the home. This phenomenon is also called stack effect. In addition, we do not spend a lot of time in the attic, so the exposure is limited.

So how do we deal with attic mold once it has been discovered?

It depends on how problematic the situation is. This is a two-part answer. First, you want to call in a professional to find out the source of the problem, so it doesn’t continue.

The next step depends on the nature of the problem and how much actual mold is found. This may involve bringing in a few different professionals, especially if the problem requires more than just mold removal.

Remediation contractors will be able to remove the mold, yet may not install new roof or soffit vents and fix duct work. At times, the repairs may involve a roofer, engineer & remediation contractor to ensure the job is fixed properly.

A word of caution… In my experience, it is always best to bring in contractors with specific experience related to what you are dealing with, rather than a handyman. You want to call a contractor with experience, training and the proper insurance to make sure the job is done correctly the first time.

Remediation costs will also depend on the following…severity of the problem, access, materials, equipment, labour, time and applied methodologies. For more information on this topic, check out my article called Tips for hiring a mold remediation company.

What can be done to prevent attic mold?

The simple answer is to keep the attic warm and dry. As mentioned earlier, call a mold inspector to find the moisture source. The attic will always have enough food in the form of organic debris drawn in from the outside… so deal with the moisture first.

Strategies that we believed to be effective for reducing attic mold may be changing in the near future, especially in and around Vancouver/lower mainland, with regards to the “Night Sky Radiation” issue.

Innovations to building construction have spawned many new approaches to attic design. Building science specialists, engineers and energy advisors are testing ways to reduce moisture, advance energy efficiency and improve structure. Until concrete protocols come to fruition, it is best to contact an experience attic/roofing/remediation contractor. Also, consider the following…

  • Install ample insulation to ensue the attic is warm, and around skylights as well.
  • All vent ducts should be made from the appropriate materials, (rigid metal/flexible aluminum, not plastic) properly sealed and vented to the exterior. This includes bathroom, dryer and kitchen vents.
  • The attic hatch, and all voids should be properly sealed to prevent moisture and airflow from migrating into the attic space.
  • Cathedral ceilings should have insulation installed and adequate clearance between the sheathing and insulation to encourage airflow.
  • Heat ducts should be properly insulated, especially in cooler climates.
  • Ensure that the slope is proper to prevent ice damming (cooler climates) and condensation issues on the attic deck.
  • Make certain that all soffit vents are clear to allow proper airflow. Installation of baffles (rectangular Styrofoam boards to encourage air movement from the soffit up through the attic) should be utilized to achieve this.
  • Adequate ventilation, such as ridge or roof vents should be installed to allow the air to escape.
  • Gable vents (vents along the side walls of the attic) should not compete with upper ridge or roof vents. They may need to be closed off. It would be best to speak to a roofer about this as needed.

For more information on this topic, just let me know. If you found this article interesting and informative, please pass it along…

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Thermographic Inspections… Are they necessary?

 

The first thermographic cameras were extremely large, expensive awkward machines.

Over the years, the technology has improved, much reducing the size and prices of these amazing cameras.

Although still considered expensive as tools go, they are more affordable each year, so inspectors are beginning to add them to their arsenal of inspection equipment.

Throughout the article, I will also call them by their other common names, infrared thermal cameras, infrared imagers and thermographic cameras.

Essentially, infrared thermal cameras detect & measure temperature patterns on a given surface. The temperature differences are assigned colours for easy identification.

When combined with other tools, they can help identify a number of issues within a home. Although they are powerful and sensitive tools, they cannot see through walls, like Superman, or even through glass, as many people believe.

These cameras have gained recent popularity in the home inspection field due in large part to familiar TV programs, where they have been used to successfully find hidden defects. In addition to home inspectors, engineers, medical personnel, the military, contractors and a whole host of trade professionals are using these cameras with greater frequency.

Often the thermographic inspection will be an add-on service to a regular inspection. Thermography is not covered under the standards of practice we are governed by.

More and more clients are requesting that we (home inspectors) use them during our inspections; however, it is important to mention that they are neither appropriate nor effective for every inspection.

Take this example… thermal imagers have been used on TV to reveal suspected areas of missing insulation within the exterior walls of a home. The camera picks up the temperature signatures on the wall surface. So when a cold stud (behind the wall) is attached to the wall, the image in that area may show a contrast of colours. What we are seeing is a transfer of heat from a warm surface (wall) to a cooler one, (the hidden stud) and represented as an outline.

This particular application will only be effective if there is a temperature difference of 15 degrees between indoors to the outside. So, if you live in Ontario in during the winter, then the power of this camera can be quite effective.

However, in BC you may not get the same result due to our mild weather. This is certainly useless in the summer when the weather is warm. So question the particular situation when you see this on TV.

Below are some examples of how inspectors can use this technology given the right temperatures and circumstances… based on proper training of course.

Detecting moisture issues 

Water has the ability to either retain heat or cold extremely well. So if there is a leak inside a wall cavity from the outside, and you scan the area, you may be able to see it when the temperature is cold enough.

 Locating areas of heat loss & air leakage

This approach are best utilized when the inside of the home is pressurized and the camera is adjusted to a greyscale palette. When applied and interpreted correctly, one can use this information to improve on energy efficiency, while saving on heating costs.

Seeing electrical issues

With this application, one can look for large temperature differences in service panels and receptacles that cannot be seen by people without the camera. This can be useful for detecting possible fire hazards before they happen.

Finding missing insulation

As mentioned earlier, this is a useful application in the winter, or evening when the temperature difference is suitable.

Locating pests

The camera can easily pick up the body temperature of rodents or other critters in the attic. This can be a super verification tool for pest management companies.

Testing radiant in-floor heating

Thermographic cameras are excellent for looking at the performance of the in-floor heat pipes. After the heat has been on for a number of hours, the outline of the pipes can be seen with absolute clarity. On the flip side, we can easily identify where a leak has formed. Leaks will usually appear as blotchy areas.

Leak in radiant heating

 

Commercial roofing inspections

This is best done at night, or when the sun goes down. An infrared camera can easily pinpoint any moisture within the layers of the roof insulation or membranes. Note: this is only applicable for flat roofs. This works so well because the water will retain the warmth from the heat of the sun during the day, while the outside air will be cooler… so any trapped moisture will be easy to see.

As mentioned, these specialized cameras are extremely sensitive tools that require adequate training to properly operate & interpret. All findings must be verified for accuracy.

Before hiring an inspector to conduct a thermographic inspection, ask him or her about their training. Ideally, the inspector should have a level 1 certification from a credible and recognized institution. Proper training will take five to seven days on average to complete.

At the end of the day, thermographic imagers/cameras are excellent when used correctly and for very specific applications, so consider whether it is needed, especially if the cost is extra.

For more information or questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll help you out.

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Top 10 Places To Find Mold In The Home

Mold can and will grow indoors when the conditions are ideal. The most important stimulant for mold growth is moisture. If you can get rid of the moisture, then mold will not grow. However, it doesn’t mean that mold will not be there. Actually, mold spores can lay dormant your month or years until the right temperature, moisture and nutrients are available. Anything like paper, cardboard, wood, carpets, leather or even that old food in your refrigerator serve as breeding grounds for mold to thrive. Mold will grow on anything organic where nutrients are abundant.

Stopping mold spores from entering your home is impossible. We will always have mold in our homes. Since we can’t get rid of it completely, the key is control it in the home. Knowing where it can be is a good start, but preventative ongoing maintenance will help you keep it under control.

Listed below are the top 10 places in the home where mold is likely to grow.

1) Bathroom Mold is at the top of the list for most homeowners mainly because there is a lot of moisture generated here from several sources. Mold can grow on or around the toilet, under the sink from a leak, on wet towels or shower curtains, ceilings and walls. However, the most expensive and problematic mold condition in any bathroom comes from the shower. When caulking has been neglected and there are cracks in the mortar between the ceramic tiles, moisture seeps in behind the walls.  Overtime the moisture can’t escape, so it builds up…resulting in mold growth. Most people are unaware of this issue until they smell, begin to suffer allergic type reactions, start renovating or hear about from a home inspector.

2) Attic Mold is very common in homes, which have not been properly ventilated, have roof leaks, or drain tile issues. With our newer tighter built homes, this will continue to be problematic because warm air rises to the highest point in the home, which happens to be the attic. In the winter when the temperature on the attic sheathing is cold, condensation forms, creating yet another opportunity for mold growth. Why is this a problem? Nobody actually lives in the attic. Mold will eventually damage the structure of the roof when left unchecked. By far, poor ventilation is the most common cause of moisture related mold issues in the attic.

3) Basement Mold is common in older homes, or any home that is poorly sloped, missing waterproof membranes, has broken drain tile or foundations cracks. All of these conditions contribute to moisture into the home. Often people store old furniture or cardboard boxes in the basement for years on end. As the moisture develops the mold begins to grow, often ruining old photos and important papers or documents. If you happen to store items in the basement, be sure to put them into hard plastic, sealed containers.

4) Kitchen Mold can usually be found under the sink, behind the refrigerator, or near the dishwasher. These are the most common areas of mold growth simply because small leaks often go unnoticed for quite some time. If you smell a musty odour, you’ll want to look for the surface mold. It is a good idea to check each month as a preventive measure to help control and repair any leaks.

5) Drywall Mold is the result of moisture seeping into the walls and staying there long enough allow mold to grow. (Typically 24-48 hours). The mold takes nutrients from the organic paper materials, which surround the gypsum board. Unfortunately, this condition is not usually discovered until someone is suffering from mold symptoms, leaks are found, or a musty smell is noticed.  The amount of drywall compromised by mold depends on how long the moisture as been exposed to it and how many spores have taken hold. Often large sections of the drywall must be removed in order to solve the problem, which can be very expensive.

6) Window Mold is commonly found around the edges of wood or metal-framed windows, but can to a lesser extent be found on vinyl-framed windows. Condensation develops when the cooler air beside the windows cannot hold its moisture, typically in the winter. When left unchecked, the moisture accumulates on the sills or frames until the mold grows.

7) Crawlspace Mold grows on the structural wood members when the home (usually older) has been built on a dirt floor. There is an incredible amount of moisture vapor that seeps into the crawlspace from the ground below. In addition, ground water can spill into the crawlspace where there are voids along the outer perimeter or cracking foundation wall. Overtime the accumulation of mold can compromise the structure of the home. In addition, these spores can migrate up into the living space through small voids. Ideally vapor barrier should be installed under a concrete slab. If not, above the dirt floor and properly sealed.

8) Surface Mold includes any sign of visible, obvious mold that can be seen throughout the home. As mentioned, bathroom ceilings and under sinks reveal mold. Exterior (outside) facing closet walls, or those adjacent to bathrooms should be examined for signs of mold.

9) Carpet Mold can be found on the underside of the carpet, typically in the basement over a concrete floor or at ground level. Evidence appears after a flood, leak, from over watered plants, by exterior walls and doors. It is also possible for moisture to come in from the outside when an exterior drain has backed up or when the home is positioned on a low point of the property or the land slopes towards the home.

10) Laundry Room Mold can occur due to a slow leak from the washing machine, a nearby sink, drain or other hidden location. The laundry room is considered a wet area, so it should be monitored closely just like a bathroom or kitchen. Inspect behind and under the washing machine, the floors and floorboards for water stains and past moisture damage.

Remember, the most important part of managing the mold in your home is to identify and remove the moisture source(s) as soon as possible.

For tips on removal, check out my blog article called How to Clean Mold From Your Home . For additional details about this article or Mold inspections feel free to contact me and I will help you out…

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How to Clean Mold From Your Home

As noted in a past article about mold, called Mold Detection, Things to Consider, I addressed the issues associated with mold, which are primarily health related. Other issues resulting from mold include damage to your clothing, carpets, personal items and possible structural issues… especially if the mold and moisture have been there for a long time.

In the feature picture provided, you can easily see the damage caused to a window sill by prolonged moisture, resulting in significant mold growth to this area.

Whenever you find clothing, carpets, drywall or any paper based organic materials in the home that have been contaminated with mold, you will have to get rid of them as soon as possible.

The first thing to do when you suspect or discover mold is to find out what kind of problem you are dealing with. When mold inspectors confirm the presence of mold through an inspection and or sampling, they categorize it into different levels, depending on the severity of the problem.

*** For your best protection, and safety I strongly recommend contacting a remediation contractor to remove any mold you see.

If you are dealing with a Condition 1 level of contamination, it means that a small area of 10 square feet or less has been affected. Some may suggest that you can tackle this without additional help. If you are not a trained professional, you may be taking a risk, especially if you move contaminated items to different areas of the home.

The second level is considered a Condition 2 level of contamination. This means that an area of 10 to 30 square feet has been affected by mold contamination. At this point you absolutely need to call a professional to come into your home to deal with the problem. If left unchecked, the condition will escalate, possibly to condition 3.

Anything in the Condition 3 level is bad news. Here there is continuous active mold growth and spores, spanning an area of 30 square feet or more. The home in this condition would not be considered safe to inhabit. A professional must be called in immediately to properly remove all contaminated items and materials from your home, while restoring it to safe conditionions. I can only hope that a problem will not get that severe… but if it does you can expect to invest a substantial amount to fix the problem.

If you choose not to get a professional (which I do not recommend) please protect yourself by calling a remediation company for advice. They will likely tell you to wear a respirator, protective eye wear, rubber gloves and protective clothing.

The next step involves your cleaning solution. There are a few options to think about… You can go to the hardware store and purchase a commercial mold remover or make your own, green friendly solution. If you choose to mix it yourself, you can combine 2/3 parts water with 1/3 part white vinegar & a squirt of dish-washing liquid into a spray bottle for small areas.  Many people suggest using bleach. Personally, I don’t think it is necessary, and it is potentially toxic.  If you insist on using bleach, NEVER mix it with ammonia, as this mixture will create a toxic gas. 

Remember, when you find mold in your home, be sure to get advice as soon as possible so it doesn’t spread. Carefully check out the credibility of the company performing the remediation work. See if they are registered with the Better Business Bureau, and that they follow the correct protocols from a governing body such as IICRC… here is a link. https://www.iicrc.org/ Check any online reviews as well.

Many mold remediation companies perform mold inspections as well. Although this is legal, and may be necessary to conduct a scope of work, or if a wall or floor needs to be opened for example, some may view it as a conflict of interest. If you are looking for an unbiased evaluation of the home for mold (without the use of invasive measures) then an unbiased, certified mold inspector should be your first choice.

For any questions about mold in your home, just contact me at 604-729-4261 and I’ll be happy to help you out.

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Mold Detection – Things to Consider

There have been a lot of alarm bells concerning mold, the damage it causes and the considerable health effects associated. In reality, we come across and breath in mold spores every day, because they are literally everywhere.

Mold detection in Vancouver is important, especially due to our wet moderate climate. In the outdoors, mold is nature’s way of breaking down organic material, which is a good thing. In the home however, mold can be problematic, especially when the spores are airborne and breathed in or ingested.

The problem is… mold will affect each person differently, depending on a number of factors. People most affected by mold are those with weakened immune systems, allergy sufferers, the elderly and the very young.

Scientists and researchers still don’t know exactly how bad the effects of mold exposure is on one person compared to another. Mold produces “Mycotoxins” which are essentially chemicals that cause illnesses in people and animals. One of the reasons why mold is problematic in the home is because it likes to grow on organic materials in building materials such as cellulose, wood, ceiling tiles, etc. Mold really only needs four things to survive… food, water, oxygen and moderate temperatures. This is yet another reason why mold detection here in Vancouver is so important. Mold thrives in Vancouver.

Although not nearly as common as many other types of mold, the infamous “Black Mold” has received the vast majority of media exposure.  Black mold usually grows after extensive flooding or prolonged water damage.

Being a home inspector, we look at all types of homes, condos & townhouses and see the tell tale signs. Mold detection is not only important here in Vancouver, but being able reduce is especially beneficial.

In the piece, I will give you some tips with mold detection in your home and how to keep it under control. I’ll share the basics in this article so you can better identify and help control it when you see the signs. Keep in mind, that it is impossible to completely eliminate mold from your home, but knowing how to control it will certainly help.

Mold detection, warning signs:

  • Does the home or a particular area in the home have a musty odor? Commonly basements or crawlspaces fall into this category.
  • Do you see signs of water stains, swelling or indents on the floor baseboards, cracking or bulging paint on or by the windowsills?
  • Have you noticed any “mushroom like” growth in you home, perhaps in a closet or carpet or growing on rotten wood?
  • Have you seen any white patches under carpets, behind furniture, in cupboards or cabinets?
  • Do you see spotty areas of black and white on surfaces in the home?
  • In basement areas or crawlspaces, have you see efflorescence? (A white chalky by product resulting from moisture seeping through concrete)

Preventing or controlling the spread of moisture and mold

From the outside:

  • It is always a good ideal to keep flowerbeds away from the side of the building… As mentioned, concrete is porous and will allow moisture to seep through into the basement or crawlspace. Do not allow vegetation to grow too close to the home (trim it at least 1 foot away). Do not store firewood against the home or in the basement.
  • Applying a waterproof membrane around the outside perimeter of your home is one of the best ways to significantly reduce the moisture into your home. Also, be sure to seal all cracks in the concrete.

From the inside:

  • Check all areas of possible moisture, such as basements, crawlspaces, closets below or behind bathrooms and main plumbing fixtures. Do not keep old books and cardboard boxes exposed in the crawlspace or basement. Instead, store them in dry, sealed plastic boxes.
  • Be sure that the moisture in the home and especially in the bathrooms is no higher that 50%.  When showering, turn on the fan before hand, while and keep it on for at least ½ hour after you shower to help vent moisture out.
  • Staying with the bathroom, carefully look at the grout and ceramic tiles for cracks and wear. Be sure to re-grout these areas and apply moisture/mildew resistant caulk at all joints, especially where the wall/tub and shower meet.
  • Ensure that there are no signs of any plumbing leaks throughout the home, especially at all joints, valves, dishwashers, under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Check your water heater, looking for signs of leaks and ensure it is sitting on a drain pan.  Also, check that your washing machine hoses have been properly connected and show no signs of wear. (I also tell my clients to replace their rubber washer hoses with steel braided hoses as they are better quality and much less likely to leak) Also, ensure that you shut off the water to the appliance prior to replacing the hoses or you could cause small flood.
  • Look to see if your toilet is leaking or “sweating” along the tank or bowl. Overtime the condensation will contribute to moisture issues.

Detecting and preventing mold is only one piece of the puzzle. I will be addressing how to deal with Mold when you do find it in an up coming article, so stay tuned. If you have any questions about mold detection and you are in the Vancouver area, give me a call or otherwise send me an email.

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