Finding Mold at Home

Updated March 4, 2016 . AmFam Team

Why is mold such a problem? What can be done if you find mold in your house? Take a look at our key tips to keep mold at bay.

Mold is found everywhere and sometimes, we even bring it into our home on purpose — think about your blue cheese for a minute. But it’s the mold we don’t invite in that can cause big problems.

And for those that have mold sensitivities, the symptoms can range from the subtle, such as nasal, throat and eye irritation, to the significant: in the form of coughing and wheezing, or even frequent respiratory infections with continued mold exposure.

How Do You Prevent Mold in Your Home

Mold spores can be hard to hide from. They’re in the air and will settle down in those damp, dark spots in your home. Preventing mold in your house not only protects your friends and family, it can also protect the physical structure of your home. Stopping mold is all about controlling the humidity in your place, then ventilating and managing mildew where it grows. Take a look at these tips to help keep your place sparkling clean.

Clean the Source of the Mold

Since you can’t kick mold out completely, you’ll need to sleuth out where the mold is hiding. Look for areas that are frequently moist. Clean the ceiling above the shower, or the dark corners near that persistent leak in the basement — both can frequently harbor mold. Put on the rubber gloves — and a dust mask if things are particularly grimy — and use a hard-bristle brush with your choice of a cleaning agent to scrub away.

Dry Out the Moldy Area Like You Mean It

Preventing mold growth can save you time and money — and help to reduce the risk of any mold-related health issues down the road. Pick up a dehumidifier that’s sized correctly for the job. Wet basements may require a larger machine than a little moisture near the bathroom sink for mold remediation.

Verify that your sump pump's working correctly and work on ventilating or moving dry air into the space to remove mold. This can help prevent sudden and accidental flooding from becoming a major issue.

Control Your Indoor Humidity Level

You should keep your home’s humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent. When you lower the humidity level, you’re lowering the likelihood of mold growth. Keeping your windows and pipes free of condensation is a good indicator you’re keeping those humidity levels in check. For a more measured analysis of your humidity levels, moisture meters are available at most local hardware stores.

Get a Ventilation Plan in Place

The key here is ventilation — especially with your air conditioning system. Venting your bathroom, opening windows allowing outdoor air into the laundry rooms and kitchen moves moisture-laden air out of your home quickly — and brings in cleaner, drier air.

Be sure that your vents are pushing that moist air completely out of the house and not just into your attic. Place the thermostat for your AC at 78 on humid days just to let the air system dehumidify your home.

Manage the Moisture on All Fronts

If you’re family’s taking long hot showers, adjustments will need to be made. Open a window in that bathroom or use the vent fan wisely. Thoroughly dry any wet area immediately. This can be as simple as moving your clothes promptly from the washer to the dryer. Or it could be a major project, such as removing water-damaged carpets.

By keeping things dry, you’re cutting down on possible places for mold and mildew to grow. And by installing smart home systems that actively monitor for leaks, you may be able to prevent major damage from occurring in the first place. Better still, smart home upgrades like these can help you earn a discount on your home insurance.

Inspect Your Household Plants for Mold

Mold can accumulate on the leaves and soil of plants that are frequently watered. Re-pot plants that are showing signs of mold. You can add a little Taheebo tea to the water you’re using for the plants — it contains a natural antifungal oil.

Clean and Repair Roof Gutters and Downspouts

By controlling the rain and cleaning your gutters, you really can keep mold down. Regular cleaning and inspection of rain gutters will make sure rain water is being properly displaced. If your home is near tall trees that drop leaves each fall, consider getting gutter guards installed to keep clogs to a minimum. Be sure to inspect soffit and fascia boards during that time. Well-designed landscaping, paired with a strong gutter repair program, will help to direct water on the ground away from your house.

Consider Optional Water Damage Insurance Coverage

Preventing mold comes down to one key point: the drier your house, the less likely mold will grow. By taking steps to cut down on the humidity and damp surfaces in your home, you’re protecting the structural integrity of your home and improving the air your family breathes.

By reaching out to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) and reviewing your water damage coverage options, your finances can be better protected. If your area’s prone to flooding, be sure to inquire about getting on the National Flood Insurance Program when you contact your agent. When you cover water damage with great home insurance, that can bring you real peace-of-mind.

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