Having a Florida home, including Coastal-area cities like Tampa, make you more susceptible to mold. Because Tampa-area homes and businesses rely on high-powered AC units, drain pans are likely to flood and condensation can form from pipes. Because of thunderstorms, hurricanes and flash floods, mold has more water to help mold develop and grow. Below you will find information that will help you better prepare for mold prevention and/or remediation.
What causes mold?
Mold only needs a few things to grow and multiply; nutrients, a place to grow and moisture.
Many building materials like wood and sheet rock provide food that can spur mold growth. Molds can grow almost anywhere there is enough moisture or high humidity. Controlling moisture is the key to stopping indoor mold growth, because all mold requires water to grow. Moisture can come from:
- Flooding from Mother Nature outside
- Flooding from the indoor sinks, tubs, toilets or drain pans
- Water leaks from outside the building
- Indoor plumbing leaks or broken water pipes
- Outdoor sprinkler spray hitting the walls, or indoor fire sprinklers
- Poor venting of kitchen and bathroom moisture
- Drying wet clothes indoors, or not venting clothes dryers outdoors
- Warm, moist air from outdoors
How does mold affect your health?
There are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold:
- irritant effects
- allergic illness
- toxic effects.
For those sensitive to mold, symptoms such as nasal and sinus irritation or congestion, coughing, wheezing, skin rashes or burning eyes may occur. People with severe allergies to mold may have more serious reactions, such as hay-fever-like symptoms or shortness of breath. People with chronic illnesses or people with immune system problems may be more likely to get infections from certain molds, viruses and bacteria. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma. Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds and body aches and pains are sometimes reported in mold complaints as well.
How can I test my home for mold?
Indoor mold growth can usually be seen or smelled. In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is not needed. There are no health or exposure-based standards that you can use to evaluate mold. The Florida Department of Health does not recommend mold testing or sampling to see if you have a mold problem. Sampling for mold in the air can be expensive and, if done, should only be done by experienced professionals. Investigate a mold problem; don’t test.
- Look for visible mold growth (it may look cottony, velvety, rough, or leathery and have different colors like white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green). Mold often appears as a staining or fuzzy growth on furniture or building materials. Look for signs of moisture or water damage.
- Check around air handling units for standing water. Routinely inspect the evaporator coils, liner surfaces, drain pans and drain lines.
- Search areas where you notice mold odors. If you can smell an earthy or musty odor, you may have a mold problem.
- If mold-allergic people have some of the symptoms listed above when in your home, you may have a mold problem.
How can I prevent mold growth?
Water is the key. Without it, mold growth cannot start. The easiest way to prevent the mold is to control dampness. Keep your home clean and dry. When water stands for even 24 hours, common molds can take hold. Keeping humidity levels below 60% is one way to prevent mold growth. Other ways include:
- Clean and dry up spills within 24 hours
- Dry-out wet building materials and carpets within 24 hours
- Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier to reduce the indoor humidity levels below 60%.
- Do not carpet bathrooms or basements
Who can I call when mold appears?
If you choose to hire a contractor like Disaster One to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Disaster One’s experienced, licensed and certified mold remediation team will remove unwanted water/moisture and perform mold removal and remediation according to EPA and IICRC recommended guidelines.