Is something in your home making you sick? Being bothered by the constant “musty” smell?
If this is the case, then check your bathrooms and cellars and anywhere else that might be cool and damp. These are the places where molds and mildew abound.
And molds produce spores and toxins that get into the air that can make people sick. Mold spores are responsible for a lot of hay fever cases in the autumn and winter time, spores which can be outdoor as well as indoor.
Indoor molds and Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) refers to a situation in which building occupants experience health problems while inside a particular building. Human health issues typically associated with SBS range from allergy attacks and asthma to more complex medical problems involving exposure to toxins.
SBS can be caused by molds, dust and other allergens that may be present inside a building.
Molds after the flood
Food waters recede but the damage lasts for a long time. As if water damage to your home and furniture is not enough, flood aftermath brings a lot of health problems. Molds are one of the major problems after a flood that can cause structural damage to a building as well as its occupants. In the period shortly after Hurricane Katrina, household levels of molds even surpassed levels found in some agricultural environments.
According Dr. H. James Wedner, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis:
“Mold loves water. When your building is flooded, it’s very difficult to dry it out quickly and completely, and that allows mold to grow. Walls made of Sheetrock soak up water far above the floodline, and mold can be hidden under wallpaper, carpet and floorboards and in ceiling tiles, furniture and clothing.”
The results are increased incidence of allergies and asthma among flood victims.
Ways and means to avoid mold development in your home
Dr. Wedner gives the following tips to those dealing with a flooded building:
- dry it out quickly — mold will grow almost immediately in wet conditions;
- cool it down — mold likes warmth as well as humidity;
- remove wet materials — wet Sheetrock can’t be repaired and must be taken out;
- clean anything that has been wet — that includes clothing, which should be dry cleaned;
- throw away anything that can’t be thoroughly cleaned — that favorite couch might have to go;
- hire a professional to clean affected areas of the building with appropriate materials — often a solution of 10% bleach is used
Even if your home has not been flooded, these tips also apply. Bathrooms are especially susceptible to mildew since they often get wet. In the winter time, bathrooms are also well-heated. The result is an environment ideal for the molds to thrive in.
My strategies are air, dry and cool.
- After a bath or shower, I turn off the heater, open the bathroom windows wide open for 5 to 10 minutes until the room is dry.
- Optimize the drying time by scheduling bathroom use optimally. My 2 kids take turns in the shower in evenings, after which I immediately start the drying procedure.
- Leave a window open. In the laundry room in the cellar, I often leave a window tilted so the dry the dampness from the laundry. I only close it when it goes subzero in the winter time.
- Check signs of dampness and molds regularly, including hidden corners and curtains.
Check before your buy or build
When building a house, talk with your architects and engineers about installations that can prevent mold development.
When buying a ready structure, ask a professional to check for molds. One way is the mold seeking technique: Mechanical engineers are using radio waves to obtain 3D images of the inside of basement walls. If there’s water inside the wall, those waves will reflect the energy much more specifically than dry material will. The new tool helps make sure mold is not making itself at home in your house.