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Check any fuel-burning equipment - furnaces, hot water heaters, boilers, fireplaces, and wood stoves - to ensure that they are venting properly. A blocked chimney could mean that combustion products, including large amounts of water vapor, are spilling into your house. Along with that moisture come dangerous combustion gasses, such as carbon monoxide, which cause deaths every year. Have heating equipment and venting systems checked by a trained service person.
If your moisture remedial work includes extensive air sealing, be sure that all fuel-burning equipment has an adequate supply of combustion air. High efficiency furnaces, for example, have their own air supplies and exhaust fans but conventional equipment may rely on house air for combustion and on 'natural draft' to move combustion products up chimney flue. If starved for air or overpowered by an exhaust fan somewhere else in house, such equipment can spill combustion gasses indoors. Examples of this include stains near vent of a gas water heater, smoke entering room from a wood-burning fireplace or stove, and pilot lights being blown out.
Mold growth often occurs in out-of-the-way areas like closets, corners, walls behind furniture and unused rooms. Increasing air circulation to these areas warms cold surfaces and lowers local humidity levels.
To solve moisture problems, cover any exposed earth in a crawl space or basement with heavy polyethylene, sealed and weighted-down; slope soil away from foundations to keep basement walls and slab dry; patch any foundation leaks; don't use humidifiers, unless humidity levels are below 30 percent R.H.; avoid drying firewood indoors; operate bathroom exhaust fans during a bath or shower; use your range hood exhaust when cooking; avoid steam-cleaning carpets in winter; clean mold from wood and gyproc with a 10 percent to 30 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide applied with a spray bottle. This is more effective than bleach and water.
If you use chlorine bleach, mix one part bleach with two parts water and a little detergent to clean nearby surfaces. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse well. Use gloves and protective glasses and good ventilation. Badly mildewed carpets, furnishings and books will probably need to be thrown out.
Molds are parasitic micro-organisms that appear as black, white or multi-colored stain or fuzz. In addition to causing asthma, they can cause other allergies and serious health problems. There are tens of thousand of varieties of molds and are difficult and expensive to identify, even for experts. Health officials recommend eliminating all molds from inside your home.
Most mold spores need condensation or damp materials to germinate and once are established, many colonies generate their own moisture and can continue to survive even under dry conditions. They also need mild temperatures and a source of food, such as house dust or drywall paper.
1. Natural Resources Canada [NRCan] "Air-Leakage Control" Pg. 11 [20 Feb 2002]
2.WHO [World Health Organization] [20 Feb. 2002]
3. Cormier, Dr. Y., Centre de Recherche, Hopital Laval, 2725 Chemin Ste-Foy, Ste Foy, Quebec Canada, G1V-4G5 Institut de Recherche en Sante et Securite du Travail (IRSST), Quebec Canada July 21, 1999; revised; accepted for publication November 26, 1999.
4. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/ [20 Feb. 2002]
5. http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/qa/105-10news/NIEHSnews.html [20 Feb.2002]
6. http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/FS/fs-043-01/ [20 Feb. 2002]
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