Mold is something that most people dread, and for good reasons. Not only does it look ugly, but it can also cause great damage to furniture, carpets, etc.. In worst-case scenarios, it can even cause structural damage to a home. For families who have small children or elderly people in the household, mold is a very real health risk because it can cause eye irritation, sinus infections, respiratory problems, headaches, and more.
What is mold?
Many people are unaware that mold is not as simple as it looks. It is actually a very complex life form with, believe it or not, more than 350,000 different varieties. The mold that occurs most often in our homes is an airborne spore that thrives on the humidity that’s so common during the winter months. This is when it starts to grow in damp, warm spots such as plastics, tiles, painted concrete walls, wooden furniture, textiles, and more. The main reason why mold is so prolific in winter is that most people tend to keep their doors and windows closed to keep out the cold, wet weather. That causes a lack of ventilation in the home, and humid air starts building up. As time passes, condensation starts to form - creating the ideal conditions for mold to start growing.
Different types of mold and how dangerous they can be as we’ve already mentioned, there are over 350,000 different types of mold - and it’s definitely beyond the scope of this article to describe all of them. Suffice to say that not all of them are dangerous, some can even be benign under controlled circumstances. But those that are dangerous can be very dangerous to humans. Below we list a few of them.
Stachybotrys. Also known as black mold, it typically grows on materials such as wood, ceiling tiles, gypsum board, and cardboard.
Penicillium. This one causes stuff like food to spoil. It grows on damp surfaces such as carpets, walls, floors, and wallpapers and has been linked to diseases such as asthma and nail fungus.
Fusarium. This type of mold is orange in color and loves to grow on fabrics and water-damaged carpets. In the long run, it can lead to asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Cladosporium. One of the most common but also the most dangerous types of mold. It comes in shades of black, brown, green, or gray and grows on wood, walls, carpets, etc. In severe cases, this one can cause emphysema and pulmonary edema.
Aspergillus. This type of mold typically grows indoors and, although it won’t kill you, it can still make you sick. It has a distinctive yellow-green color.
The best ways to prevent mold in your home
1. Get rid of water leaks. There are many places in the average home where water can slowly
leak and over time form a perfect habitat for mold. These include showers, kettles, water tanks, refrigerators, roofs, and often also household plant pots. Regularly check these for leaks and have them fixed.
2. Get rid of clutter. Winter is as good a time as spring to get rid of old clothes and other items you haven’t used for ages. The more things you have stuffed into wardrobes and cupboards, the less space there will be for air to circulate. And mold just loves those warm, stuffy conditions.
3. Keep the place properly ventilated. We get it, winter is damp and cold and most of us
prefer to keep the doors and windows closed. But especially in the case of bathrooms and
kitchens, you should always keep a window open so that the damp air can escape to the
outside. If not, it will find its way to the rest of the home, where it will create a breeding ground for mold.
4. Start using a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier's job is exactly what the name says: it removes
humidity from the air. The first time you use it in your home you might be shocked to see the
amount of water that it literally sucked from the air, which will of course make your home a less mold-friendly place.
5. Have regular inspections done. Mold often grows in places where you least expect it. The
best option is to get a certified home inspector to do a home inspection (including a roof
inspection) at least once a year. Make sure he also checks for mold. Real estate is expensive,
and in the long run, it’s the best way to ensure that your property remains mold-free.