Mold vs. Your Home
Unwanted water intrusions and/or excessive moisture and humidity will often lead to toxic mold colonization, and ultimately indoor air and mold spore contamination. A certified mold inspection and mold testing will reveal the true conditions.
Here is a list of common areas in a home which can be problematic.
Water can enter through cracks at the top, and through the sides of the chimney, as well as where the chimney meets the roof. Normal cracking, deteriorated mortar and poor flashing, are the primary points where moisture intrusions can occur. Moisture may be entering undetected; inside walls and running under flooring. Sometimes this type of intrusion is subtle and accumulates small amounts of moisture and subsequent mold that accumulates over time.
Solution - Full examination by a reputable and licensed chimney/fireplace contractor is recommended. Periodical visual examinations are necessary. Keep all exterior surfaces completely sealed, stucco cracking included.
Leaks are a primary source of water intrusions. Deteriorated or improperly installed roofing materials/shingles, ridge caps, and/or flashings, can allow water penetrations in numerous areas, including vent pipes, valleys, sky-lights etc. Flat roofs can allow moisture in through poor joint seals, pooling and improperly maintained parapet caps etc. Any appliance that is attached to a roof, if not properly mounted, will leak at the attachment if not properly installed and maintained.
Solution - Older, and inadequately installed roofing is always suspect of leaks. Periodical inspections will reveal deterioration and potential failure of roofing. Waiting until a leak begins is risking mold colonization. Reputable roofing contractors will inspect and repair, if necessary, and will usually issue a warranty.
Guttering that is full of debris can cause damming and backing up of water (turning to ice in winter), potentially allowing penetration of water at edges of roofing and into attic attic and/or down inside walls and on to floors etc. Downspouts that drain directly next to the foundation can contribute to perimeter foundation water intrusions.
Solution - Guttering must be kept clear 12 months a year. Debris causes overflowing and pooling, then in winter climates ice will form. Downspouts ideally should drain into a drainage system, or at least 4 feet away from the foundation.
Problem: Exterior Walls
Water and excessive moisture can intrude through the smallest of cracks in siding, caulking and seals around windows and doors, at siding joints, mortar joints, stucco cracks etc. Shaded and densely landscaped sections of exterior, promote high moisture and humidity that promote mold colonization.
Solution - The entire perimeter of the subject property should always remain exposed and well ventilated. Foliage should be trimmed back so that open space exists between the foliage and the structure. The more sun that can reach the structure the better. All eave vents and gable vents should be kept unobstructed. Caulking and grout should be periodically inspected and kept well sealed on all surfaces, including wood, brick and stucco.
Problem: Foundation, Basement or sub-floor area
Water penetrations through plumbing leaks and, perimeter intrusions from foundation cracks and seepage, and clothes dryers that vent into a sub-floor areas, are some of the most common areas for water collection, moisture and humidity concentration and related mold colonization.
Solution - Make sure the sub-floor area is well ventilated with an adequate amount of vents. Vents should be unobstructed, by foliage or decorative screen covers. Periodically have the soils in the sub-floor checked for moisture. (soils should be "powder" dry.) Vent clothes dryers to the exterior. If chronic moisture issues exist, consider installation of and exhaust fan system.
Problem: Exterior Perimeter Grading
Proper landscaping is essential to prevent water from entering the perimeter of the structure. The yard should slope away at least 5 feet from the foundation, preventing water pooling next to the foundation. Many structures have planters and shrubs around the perimeter much too close to the foundation where watering creates substantial moisture issues.
Solution - Perimeter soils should remain dry. Water pooling next to the foundation from poor landscaping or over-watering at perimeter flower beds will allow water to intrude into sub-floor areas and/or inside perimeter walls. Do not over-water. Yard sprinklers should never hit the structure (consider a drip system). Planters built against the structure can cause major mold problems on perimeter walls. Recommend removal, or cover them and discontinue use.
Problem: Interior Living Areas
Visual inspection can reveal moisture intrusion within the living areas, stains, blistering or water damage on the interior perimeter walls and ceilings, and around the chimney/fireplace as illustrated in #1 and #2. Closed off rooms and closets, especially those with little to no ventilation, also those that are in a damp portion of the residence and/or adjoin walls with plumbing, are typical areas ideal mold growth.
Solution - Maintain keen visual exam of your property interior for water stains and damage. Do not over-crowd closets. Open windows more often, use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans
Carpet is one of the most overlooked culprits for mold contamination. If the carpeting has ever been shampooed, or wet for any reason, it likely contains a significant mold condition. Wet carpet creates a perfect breeding ground for mold, as well as ideal habitat for animal dander and other allergens. when carpet get wet it takes many days for it to completely dry, it may seem dry on top, however it remains wet underneath and colonizes mold spores.
Solution - Permanently remove or replace carpet. Never wet shampoo! Use "Dry-cleaning" carpet companies only.
Like the bathrooms, laundry rooms or any room that has water and water drain lines, if plumbing leaks or poor ventilation exists, mold problems begin. Refrigerators and freezers and their ventilation systems, as well as, dishwashers and ice maker connections, are all areas of concern.
Solution - Water leaking at these units, as well as drain leaks can allow water under cabinets creating a mold problem not visible to the eye. Keep a constant visual observation of plumbing and all appliances for any water leaking discovered then act immediately.
In many indoor environments, the bathroom is a primary source of moisture and related mold contamination. Created by "lifestyle" habits, like showering without turning on a fan or opening a window...to plumbing leaks of all varieties, both visible and masked (inside or outside walls). Including, leaking under and behind walls at tubs and showers, from poor plumbing or insufficient water seals (deteriorated grout/caulk seals) at tile and linoleum, loose and leaking toilets, deteriorated and damaged Fiberglas tub and shower enclosures, poor ventilation, and more.
Solution - Maintain good caulk and grout seal at tubs and showers, water can enter through the tiniest cracks in tile grout or caulking. Make sure toilets are solid on the floor. Open windows and use exhaust fans when showering and allow them to run at least 20 minutes after use.
Problem: Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
Forced-air furnaces and air conditioners are a well known culprit for mold contamination issues. Cold air returns, duct work, vents, ventilation are all areas of concern. Mold colonizes in the areas and when operating begins circulation of airborne mold spores causing air contamination throughout the indoor environment.
Solution - No manual duct cleaning method is totally effective, no matter what duct cleaning companies claim. Many times disturbance can exacerbate airborne mold spores. Fog treatments are more effective. Replacement of duct- is most effective.