How to Keep Mold & Moisture Out of Your Home.
Mold Management and Prevention Tips for Landlords and Renters.
It’s a problem humans have battled since the dawn of time—controlling mold. It lurks in the corners and can cause major damage and nasty health issues. Mold can be a landlord’s and tenant’s nightmare. As long as moisture and oxygen are present, mold can grow indoors or out on virtually any organic substance, including wood, paper, carpet, insulation and food. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, especially if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed.
It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled by keeping moisture in check. Moisture control is key—mold cannot grow without it.
Left untreated, mold gradually destroys the material on which it is growing. Because molds produce allergens, irritants and toxins, they have the potential to cause a variety of health problems and can exacerbate existing conditions, such as asthma. Other responses to mold infestations are: sore eyes, coughing, sneezing, congestion, itchy skin, and sore throat. These symptoms are akin to multiple illnesses. However, if you notice your symptoms worsening in the evenings or on weekends, when you’re spending more time at home, that could be a sign that of a reaction to a mold problem.
If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. If an area becomes water damaged, it is important to dry that space and any damaged items within 24–48 hours to prevent mold growth. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water to prevent recurrence. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles and carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.
It may also be a wise idea to review your homeowner or renter’s insurance policy to see if mold is covered in case there is an emergency. Many policies have exclusions for claims against mold invasion and damage. Other policies can provide funds for lodging and damages if your home is subject to mold contamination.
For more information on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth, download the Environmental Protection Agency’s free publication, A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home at www.epa.gov/mold/pdfs/moldguide.pdf
Are You Ready for Cold Weather?
Winter preparation starts now if you haven’t already. Cold and wet conditions not only make you miserable, but they can damage your home. Some winterizing can wait, some can’t. Make a list of what needs to be done, and tackle the time-sensitive tasks first. Here’s a simple checklist to help you get a jump on winter.
- Examine doors and replace weather-stripping as needed.
- Examine window caulking and reseal where needed.
- Examine and repair vents where needed.
- Clean chimneys and flues.
- Remove items near heat vents.
- Place nonskid runners or door mats outside to help keep water, sand and salt out of the house.
- Cut back tree branches and shrubs that hide signs or block light.
- Examine outdoor handrails and tighten if needed.
- Turn off electrical breakers for outdoor equipment.
- Close hose bibs.
- Clean out gutters and downspouts.
- Clear yard drains.
- Spray outdoor locks and hinges with lubricant.
- Stake driveway and walkway edges that may be difficult to find under deep snow.
Assemble, stockpile or refresh winter supplies:
- Candles and matches
- Ice melt and deicer
- Snow shovels
- Generator fuel
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