Who among us doesn’t shudder when we hear the dreaded word “mold?”
It’s frightening, for sure. For those with a sensitivity or allergy to mold, it can result in headaches, sluggishness, poor concentration, irritated skin, itchy eyes and stuffed-up noses – and worse.
With increasing, alarming stories of mold in homes ruining homeowners’ health (and finances), more folks are proactively searching for, removing, and then keeping at bay this all-too-common scourge.
“There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.”
There are many things a homeowner can do to help keep excess moisture at a minimum, including:
- fix any leaks and dry wet areas immediately
- cover any dirt in crawlspaces with plastic covering
- make sure crawlspaces are well insulated
- install – and always use – exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, making sure the removes moisture to the outside and not directly into an attic
- open doors between rooms and move furniture away from walls to increase air circulation
- vent your clothes dryer to the outside
- keep roof gutters clean and functioning properly
- direct water away from your home, making sure the ground around your home is sufficiently sloping away from the foundation
- let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mildew at bay
But much of the moisture that breeds mold can’t be seen or easily accessed, because it’s inside your walls and crawl spaces. For those unseen areas, it’s time to call in the professionals.
“Mold is generally found in the attic and crawlspace when there’s poor ventilation,” says Thoren Rogers, Building Performance Division Administrator at Barron Heating. “It can be a plumbing leak or a source moisture issue, where you have a leak getting into a wall cavity that creates the mold, but in general, with a house that doesn’t have leaky plumbing, it’s going to be ventilation.”
Mold needs food and warmth to grow. A leaky duct system pumps a lot of heat, providing the warmth, and a bad vapor barrier then provides the entry for moisture. A compromised attic or crawlspace can quickly become a hospitable new home for mold.
And even a properly constructed crawlspace, which includes vents to help regulate the climate underneath a home, isn’t always enough. Whatcom County sees plenty of periods of heavy rain that lead to standing water, which can take days to completely dry out. And once again, that sets the stage for mold, mildew and fungus.
Barron Heating offers a free, no-obligation 20- to 30-minute visual inspection of attics and crawl spaces.
“We look for signs of moisture, rodent, insect, mold, or other damage,” says Rogers. “We’re then able to bring these to the attention of the homeowner and offer our services as a home performance contractor.”
The most common place to find mold or mildew is in the attic. Why? Because it’s often near the intake for the furnace, which is full of holes and pulls attic air into the home.
“The moisture in these situations is commonly rising on warm air from the house, escaping into the attic through light fixtures and other penetrations,” says Rogers. “It then rises through the insulation and condenses on the cold plywood sheets under the roofing – and mold begins to grow.” Mold is also often found on the material that the moist air passes on its way up.
As part of Barron’s full home performance assessment, a team member can also search for signs of moisture in the surrounding structural material, such as wood and sheetrock.
“If mold is suspected in the walls, we can also use an infrared camera to locate wet areas behind the wall material,” says Rogers.
Depending on the severity of the mildew growth, Rogers or his team members are either going to suggest Barron’s services to repair the source of the moisture to kill the existing growth, recommend further investigation by an independent licensed mold remediation specialist, or suggest structural repairs by a licensed remodeling contractor to get rid of the contaminated materials.
Whether you opt for a shorter visual inspection of your attic and/or crawl space or a full home performance assessment, you can breathe easy knowing that Barron has the knowledge and tools to help you create – and maintain – a healthy, efficient home.