One of the least attractive words a homeowner can hear is mold. And for good reason. Mold is a big problem in both its scope and its potential negative ramifications. It's a type of fungi that can wreak havoc on your health if it starts to grow in your home and its growth remains unstopped. It should go without saying that mold isn't something you want to have to deal with. Later on in this tip of the day we'll go into a little more detail as to why but suffice to say mold is something you want to keep at bay. Unfortunately, our HVAC systems, like our Austin air conditioning systems, are great places for mold to start to develop.
That's why this tip of the day is going to be all about how to find mold, what the signs are that it might be lurking in your house, and what to do once this mold is located. Mold isn't something you want to ever have to deal with but because our homes are sometimes the perfect environment for mold to flourish it is something worth knowing about. It can be tricky to locate and even trickier to remove so take a look at some of the tips below to get a better handle on the tricky situation that a mold infestation can present.
Signs of Mold in the Home
If your allergy symptoms seem to be acting up more than usual, more intensely than usual, or you’re getting symptoms associated with allergies that you aren’t used to getting, you might want to consider the possibility that mold in your home could be a potential cause. If you are having a problem with allergies then there's a good chance there could be mold growing somewhere in your home. Common allergic reactions to mold include sneezing, sore eyes and a runny nose or nasal congestion. Do you notice your allergic reactions are worse when you're at home but you feel better when you go out? If so then it's especially likely you could have mold. If you find that your allergies are worse in some other building, like your workplace, then there could be mold growing there instead. But let’s look at some more signs of mold that can point more accurately at this problem.
Your senses can be a useful tool when determining whether you’ve got a mold problem blooming in your home. For instance, mold often has a somewhat distinct odor associated with it. When you have mold growing hidden away in your house, often a moldy smell might be the only clue that it's there if it isn’t in a visible area of the home. Don't ignore mold odors if you can't see any mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home before any mold problems get worse.
Of course, another obvious indication of mold is the visible residue it brings with it. This is likely to be the most surefire way you can identify the presence of mold in your home short of employing more professional methods. That being said, as much as visible mold growth might seem like an obvious sign of mold, many people don't notice small amounts of mold growth or they think it's just soot or dirt. Sometimes people simply ignore visible mold in their house.
If you can see mold growth, even if it's only small, you should take action immediately. Small mold patches can spread and the fact that there is any mold shows that the conditions in your home are right for mold to grow. If you don't take care of mold it will soon become a bigger problem. Visible mold growth could also be a sign that there is a much larger mold colony growing hidden away from view.
Sometimes you might not realize there is mold in your house, especially if it is unusual looking mold. Some mold growth looks white and thread-like. Other mold appears as clusters of small black spots. Mold can be black, gray-brown, gray-green or white in color. Mold growing behind wallpaper made of vinyl can even appear orange, pink or purple. It all depends on the type of mold you’ve got, as their structure and characteristic attributes differ with the different types of mold there are.
A more indirect sign of potential mold problems in your home is a problem with water. Any place in a climate that’s more humid is more prone to mold growth. That makes us air conditioning in Austin vulnerable. Anything with problems with leaking HVAC equipment to water discoloration on the walls or overabundant condensation could be signs that mold isn’t far. That’s because mold needs wetness to grow, therefore, like the old saying where there’s smoke there’s fire, where there’s water there might be mold.
Some signs that you have a moisture problem include water stains or discoloration on walls, floors or ceilings in your house. Seeing these could be a clue that there is mold growing within or behind the material. Mold growth from leaks can often be hidden. If the leak was behind a wall or other surface then any mold will probably be hidden behind the surface too. Even if the leak was not behind a surface there could still be mold hidden out of view behind a wall or other surface from water which seeped through.
Mold Found; Next Steps
So let’s say you’ve identified that your home has or very likely has a mold issue. Perhaps you can see visible signs of mold growth or you know there’s a water problem in the home or you notice signs of allergic reactions in the home that are out of the ordinary. What exactly should your next steps be?
Before anything else, the source of the growth should be taken care of otherwise more mold will just replace any that is removed making the venture useless. First, you must remove the source of any moisture from the affected area. If any leaks or persistent condensation aren't alleviated, the mold will likely reappear after removal.
Next comes the removal. If you know exactly where the mold is and how to reach it then you can attempt to remove the mold yourself. This requires a little bit of equipment and work on your end but if you want to remove the mold yourself there are many cases where this is possible. You may want to research this endeavor on your own if you wish to attempt this but to get a general idea of what the process is like refer to the following steps:
- Seal any doorways or other openings leading to other areas of the home, place heavy plastic over them.
- Seal the plastic in place with duct tape.
- If there are outdoor openings in the room, place an exhaust fan near them to help remove mold spores from the room.
- Wear a respirator or a facemask rated for black mold spore protection, and cover arms, legs and hands to avoid contact with mold spores.
- Use soap and a sponge to remove visible mold. If the moldy area is dry, lightly spray with water, as this will reduce the incidence of airborne mold spores during cleaning.
- Next, use commercial black mold removal products, which can be found in most hardware or home repair stores, to disinfect the moldy areas, in addition to any adjacent areas. (If you use bleach, make sure it won't discolor the material or surface.)
- Place all sponges, equipment and other materials used in cleaning in a heavy-duty garbage bag, and if possible, remove the bag through an nearby exit as opposed to the main house, to avoid distributing mold spores.
Of course, the best method for avoiding the negative effects of mold is to never get it in the first place. This means employing methods that are designed to reduce the chance that mold will find a place in your home to prosper. There are a number of things you can do to this effect.
Ventilation is very important when it comes to this task. Having proper circulation of air in the home will significantly reduce the chance of a mold buildup. It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn't invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture, clothes dryers, stoves, to the outside (not the attic). Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer. Your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking or washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.
In a related point, one thing improper ventilation can cause is a buildup of humidity in the home, especially when it comes to moisture heavy activities such as bathing and cooking. Broadly speaking, the more humid your home is likely a mold problem becomes. As such, it’s a good idea to start monitoring the humidity in your home as a precaution to the potential of mold growth. The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store. You'll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture (for example, turn off a humidifier if water appears on the inside of nearby windows).
Finally, be mindful of house plants. You’ll need to take extra precautions and actions regarding any plants in the house if you want to minimize your chances of getting mold in the home. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.
Mold Prevention and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
Mold is a big deal and the more information you have about its patterns of development, ways to prevent it, how to identify it, and how to remove it, the better. Whether you choose to remove your mold problem yourself or you get a professional to get the job done, know that the sooner the better. Significant health problems can develop with prolonged exposure to mold.
It’s important that everyone develops good habits when it comes to their HVAC systems. One of those habits is making sure to schedule regular maintenance checks and don’t wait too long when repairs are in order. If you are in need of AC repair in Austin, consider AC Express. AC Express is an Austin AC repair company that has been operating for over ten years. Our service area includes everything from Georgetown and Cedar Park to Lakeway and Taylor. For exemplary service in everything from routine maintenance checks to same-day AC repair, go with AC Express. Call today!