Mold has taken hold! Not that microbes have reached out and grabbed us, but rather they have captured our attention. A rash of recent high profile media stories have petrified many people with concerns for both their health and finances. While it is true in some situations that variations and concentrations of mold can kill us both physically and financially, in vast majority of cases mold problems can be remedied simply and economically.
Molds exist naturally all around us. Molds play a vital role in decomposition of organic waste such as in a compost pile. Other molds are essential in creation of some of our finest foods, such as wine and cheese. But, when mold growth occurs in an inappropriate place or in extreme concentration, health of our home and family can be at risk.
All molds need two basic ingredients to grow, food and water. The favorite food of mold is cellulose. In our home, cellulose is a common constituent. Wood, paper, cotton, and drywall are plentiful in construction and are great sources of cellulose. Water is everywhere in our homes, both on surfaces and in air.
As tightness of our homes has increased in response to a desire to conserve energy, unintended consequence has been trapping of moisture. The increase in moisture in our homes has in some cases resulted in a relative humidity above 60% level needed to sustain mold growth in interior spaces. In some cases, moisture level of interior spaces is below mold growth threshold, but exterior wall cavities retain required moisture level for rapid mold growth within walls. To make matters worse, this condition is also perfect for accelerated wood rot and termite infestation.
So what is a reasonable person to do? Much like a physical exam is first step in a plan for personal health, a home inspection is first step in a mold survey. The intent of inspection is to seek out all sources of moisture that may contribute to an environment that is attractive to mold and to visually identify any existing mold colonies. Roof leaks, plumbing leaks, and improper sprinkler positioning are among more common sources of mold-causing moisture problems. After identification of moisture source, a reasonable and practical remedy can be prescribed.