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MOLD: Its just a four letter word

House mold dehumidifier

ABOVE : : Potential Mold Causes

  1. Leaking roofs and ice dams
  2. High humidity in bathrooms and kitchens
  3. Leaking pipes
  4. Flooding in basement
  5. Pooling water at foundation
  6. Condensation on windows and exterior walls

UPDATED:  

Planning a trip this summer? Maybe a nice long trip up north, or even Europe? The last thing you need upon your return is to find your house full of MOLD!

Yes, mold ... or the kinder, gentler word for it: mildew. Whichever word you choose, they both increase stress levels and can make your return home less than ideal. It doesn't have to be that way. There are things you can do to prevent that nasty four-letter word from spoiling an otherwise wonderful vacation other than using a dehumidifier.

The Florida Department of Health's website says "There are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold: allergic illness, irritant effects, infection, and toxic effects.

For people that are sensitive to molds, symptoms such as nasal and sinus irritation or congestion, dry hacking cough, wheezing, skin rashes or burning, watery or reddened eyes may occur.

People with severe allergies to molds may have more serious reactions, such as hay-fever-like symptoms or shortness of breath." Mold is not an easily ignored house guest, and its impacts can have serious repercussions.

If during an inspection of your home you find mold, especially in your air conditioning system, the time to act is now.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the following: "Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold—it could spread mold throughout the building.

Unfortunately, it is thought that most, if not all, heating and air conditioning systems in Florida will support mold growth at some point. Stopping the use of an air conditioning system due to suspected mold growth would make most Florida buildings very uncomfortable during hot and humid weather."

Few realize or are aware that, under the right circumstances, mold can form in just 48 hours

Mold is resilient and easily adaptable, it is part of our environment and it is here to stay. Preventing a buildup of mold in your home is part of the maintenance requirements of any healthy household, and if regularly addressed, is not too bothersome or time-consuming. Some of the steps you can take are obvious, others are not so obvious.

Below is a list of tips that will help to minimize the chances of creating an environment conducive to the generation of microbial spores (that's the technical term for mold):

  • Before you leave, close your windows (especially in bathrooms and bedrooms) and seal sliding glass doors.
  • Clean your blinds and curtains, and then close them.
  • Clean or replace your air conditioner filter.
  • Turn up bedspreads. Pull up area rugs, and dust ruffles on couches and chairs. Stand your couch cushions on end.
  • Open cabinet drawers and closets (especially in bathrooms and bedrooms). Keep in mind that you want air to circulate rather than remain stagnant.
  • Turn the hot and cold water off. This should be done even if you are gone for a short time.

You also might have heard, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." When it comes to mold, that's exactly correct. You do not get mold because the temperature rises, you get mold when the relative humidity rises. It could be 90 degrees in your home, but unless the relative humidity is over 55 or 60 percent, the chances of mold forming are minimal.

If you have a de-hum idistat, set it and the thermostat properly. The de-humidistat turns the air conditioner on by humidity increase rather than temperature increase.

The suggested and safest setting is 50% humidity and 80 degrees temperature - wired in series. This means the temperature must get over 80 degrees and the humidity over 50% before the air conditioner turns on. Your thermostat control should be set to automatic and cool. Never set the fan in the "on" position. A continuous fan operation will increase the relative humidity in your home.

Ask a neighbor to check your home once a week. One other pitfall to avoid is this: Most of us think we only need to prepare against mold if we're going away for the entire summer. And once it starts, it reproduces every six minutes. So do the math: If you're leaving for more than a week, there's an outside chance you could return to a funny smell that means there's something wrong. Now we're not saying that you'll get mold every time you leave the house for more than two days.

What we are saying is that it doesn't take long if the conditions are idyllic. Generally speaking, if you're only leaving for a week or two, all you need to do is set your thermostat to 80 or 82 degrees, and you should not have a problem. If you plan to be away for a month or longer, that's when it would be wise to take more serious precautionary measures.

If at any point you notice mold growth, don't waste time in dealing with it. Treat it as soon as it starts to slow spreading, and make sure to take all necessary precautions to prevent new mold from forming - install a dehumidifier. If mold is growing in your air conditioning system, it's best to call an expert to have your system treated. When it comes to your health, you shouldn't take any unnecessary risks.