Health and wellness is a common topic of discussion these days, and there are many sources for
information and great professionals for guidance with nutrition, exercise, sleep, supplements,
and medical conditions. CLEAN FOOD, CLEAN WATER, CLEAN LIVING all contribute to our
health and help us to feel better.
But we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors, at school, work, and home, and we
don’t hear a lot about the QUALITY OF THE AIR WE ARE BREATHING 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, 365 days a year for a lifetime. Hmm… And we are often unaware of the dangers.
Those that are most likely to know what we are breathing are those with asthma or other
respiratory problems and/or weakened immune systems. It’s time to change that.
I’m Daniel Smith, Certified Mold Instructor and Indoor Air Quality Specialist and I have made
it my lifetime mission be an educator so that people can be pro-active in protecting their
families from the dangers of air pollution and contaminants in the home.
1. Do you rent or own?
2. How old is the building you are in?
3. Have you ever had a leak?
4. Have you ever seen water stains on the ceiling, walls or cabinetry?
5. Do you have carpets in the home?
6. Do you use the bathroom fans 10 minutes before and after showering?
7. Do you have central heating and cooling? How old is the system?
8. Has the duct work ever been cleaned?
9. Do you have a crawlspace or a basement? Does it smell musty or can you smell mold?
10. Are there any pets or smokers in your home?
Why these questions are important:
1. If you rent, the owner or landlord is not likely concerned about the quality of the
indoor air, and maintenance is also not a priority so it is up to you to be pro-active.
2. Even brand new buildings can have mold issues that develop during construction, but every home will experience water leaks that create the potential for mold growth. The older the home, the higher the probability and the greater the problem. Mold needs water or moisture and an organic surface to grow, such as wood, sheet rock, fabric, carpets etc. The best mold prevention strategies are to be diligent about any wet or damp areas that create an environment where mold will grow.
3. If you have had a leak, was it cleaned up immediately and dried out thoroughly? Most would have to answer “no” to this question since drying out completely can require removal of materials and use of specialty heaters. Mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours after the leak and continue until the area dries out completely. At this point the mold will go dormant, but any re-introduction of water or moisture will reactive the mold and it will begin growing again. The source of the leak needs to be properly repaired to avoid chronic mold growth.
4. Not all mold is visible. In fact much of the mold in homes is in the ceiling, behind the walls, under the floors, in crawlspaces etc. Common causes are a roof leak, air conditioning condensate drain clog, condensation around window and doors due to inadequate insulation and caulking. There may be a water stained area when you first move in which indicates there was a problem, or it may occur while you’re in the home. Either way, the possibility of mold growth exists. Best to determine the cause of the leak, make sure its repaired properly and then look for signs of mold.
5. Many carpets are made of synthetic materials which are non-organic. However, wool, cotton or other natural materials are a perfect food source for mold. Thick pile carpets can also be hiding spots for mold spores and other airborne contaminants. The best prevention is to vacume regularly and clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly. Bathroom mats should be washed regularly and entrance mats that get wet regularly should be on the outside or made of non-organic material.
6. Adequate ventilation is key in damp and wet areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, crawl spaces and basements. Regular inspection of these areas can catch mold growth early.
7. Depending on the age of the system, several considerations come into play. The condensate drain gets clogged and overflows which can saturate the floor, walls and carpet outside of the utility closet. The unit itself and/or the ductwork could be locations where mold is present and circulating air throughout your home. Routine maintenance and filter replacement should be standard and should you have a leak, immediate clean-up and drying may require a restoration company. Chronic leaks like this can create a dangerous long term problem. If you think you have a problem, a certified mold specialist can inspect, assess and inform you what to do.
8. Duct cleaning is also maintenance that is important. Consult a specialist to determine when and how often you should have your ducts cleaned.
9. If you have a crawl space or basement under your home, regular inspection is necessary as these areas are prone to moisture and mold growth. Make sure that the outside grade allows the water to drain away from the house and not create standing water next to the foundation. Check gutters and downspouts for proper removal of rain water. Adequate ventilation through foundation vents is critical for moisture control. If necessary, install some fans to circulate the air and dry out the moisture.
10. If you have pets and/or smokers in your home, regular air filtration will keep these air pollutants under control. The more that cleaner air policies are instituted in the home, the cleaner the air and the healthier the family.
Certified Mold Specialists are the Qualified Professionals: If you think you have a mold problem, you need an expert.
Smith Environmental Solutions Inc is in the business of assessing and improving Indoor Air Quality. For 11 years, Daniel Smith, Certified Mold Inspector and Certified Indoor Air Quality Specialist, has personally inspected, tested and analyzed air samples in over 3000 combined homes and businesses across the Carolinas. Our clients have entrusted us to determine the severity of their air quality as it relates to mold and other common indoor related allergens, and provide solutions.
Note: Information in this article is not intended to give legal or medical advice. The content provided by SES is based on industry approved education and training, professional certifications in mold testing and indoor air quality, and years of experience in scientific mold inspection, testing, and assessment and is intended for general informational purposes only.