Home renovation shows have made us all a little more knowledgeable about buying and updating homes. You could even argue that buying a “fixer upper” has never been trendier. However, they often leave out one important thing: what not to do, especially when it comes to updating your kitchen and the bathroom, the two most expensive rooms in your home.
Not only are these rooms the most likely to increase your home’s value, when updated, but they’re also the most common rooms for mold, which can be costly and dangerous to your health.
Mold spores are found in most homes across the country, and in the right conditions and without the right treatment, mold can quickly grow into a major problem or cause allergic reactions. The Center for Disease Control confirms black mold is known to cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, increased risks for infections and a host of other health issues. Even dormant mold can release spores, allowing it to reproduce and reappear, particularly if the underlying moisture and ventilation issues have not been resolved. The experts at ServiceMaster Restore have simple tips that can help you avoid a big mold problem in the future:
- First and foremost, don’t be afraid to look for the problem. With mold, ignorance is not bliss. Inspect your home and nip a potential mold problem early. Look for leaky pipes or plumbing that could cause excess moisture, especially in poorly ventilated areas like the basement, under sinks, the bathroom and garage.
- Always use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. If you’re renovating these rooms, make sure you’re installing proper ventilation equipment – at least one window or one exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathroom. Also, don’t just run your bathroom exhaust fan while showering – keep it on after you’re done and consider opening a window to ensure the space dries out as much as possible. Another best practice is to hang up your bath mats and make sure they have the opportunity to dry between uses.
- One of the most effective means of keeping mold in check is to keep the humidity level of your home at 40–60 percent. Invest in small household dehumidifiers to reduce moisture. If you have a large home, you may need more than one. While it may be tempting to reach for a humidifier to alleviate your symptoms during cold and flu season, remember they add moisture to the air, so be cautious about how often you run them.
- While it may not be as glamorous as a new marble countertop in your kitchen or bath, repairing a leaky roof is a fix that should not be skipped when combatting mold. Water from the roof can seep into your walls, creating a perfect breeding ground for nasty mold. This is a difficult problem to fix, as sheetrock may need to be cut away and removed, rather than spot-treated.
- Remove food sources for mold – which can include decorative terrariums and plants. Instead, consider other types of interior decoration like framed photographs, mason jars or a gallery wall, which are all less likely to grow mold while still adding an inviting and personalized touch to your space.
- Don’t sacrifice function for aesthetics, particularly in the kitchen. All stoves should have a hood or vent so any moisture from cooking has a way out of your home.
- Don’t allow dust to build up in register vents. Vacuum vents every month to remove dust, a primary food source for mold. If you have central heating and air, remember to clean the baseboards, floorboards and bathroom vents as well.
- Be careful taking on big projects, specifically with the HVAC system. Don’t use consumer vacuums to clean mold (this includes wet/dry vacuums, which can actually make a mold issue even worse).
Preventing mold is a DIY project anyone can handle. Should these steps fail, however, trying to treat a mold problem yourself is not recommended. You may think that taking a bottle of harsh chemical cleaner, like bleach, will be enough to stop mold in its tracks – but think again. Most retail products simply discolor mold and are not recommended for use on porous surfaces. In porous and semi-porous materials, such as wood, carpet, ceiling tile or drywall, mold’s roots may not come into contact with the cleaning product, meaning it will likely return. This is one reason why experts say removing mold-affected areas is the only way to ensure it is removed from your home.
ServiceMaster Restore is trained, equipped and ready to restore homes and businesses before, during and after any mold-related issues. With a number of regionally based large-loss command and control centers and 1,800 franchises worldwide, ServiceMaster Restore can mobilize across the country to handle any size job.
About Peter Duncanson
Peter Duncanson is the Director of Systems Development for ServiceMaster Restore and Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Peter holds many certifications including Master Water Restorer, Master Fire and Smoke Restorer and Master Textile Cleaner through the IICRC and is a CMR (Certified Mold Remediator) and CMRS (Certified Mold Remediation Supervisor) through the IAQA. Peter’s expert knowledge on all things home-related helps readers take simple, yet highly effective steps to safeguard their home and their family.