Water damage and mold can be devastating to your home. What’s worse is that unlike fire, theft, or most other accidents, flood damage and mold aren’t always covered by your home insurance policy. Mold can also be very hazardous for your family’s health.
Mold is one of the top issues I’m looking for when I inspect any home. Mold thrives in places of high humidity and dampness, so when I’m looking for mold, water damage is usually a good starting point.
The good news is you can clean mold once it starts growing. However, it’s expensive and disruptive. So the best way to deal with mold is to prevent it in the first place. Here’s a list of the top 7 ways you can avoid mold and water damage:
1. Check your water drainage systems
Water should always drain away from your house. This usually involves several systems working together. The primary system that takes rainwater away from your house is your gutters and downspouts. Make sure to keep these clean and clear – especially in the fall, when leaves build up. Most of all, don’t raise up your downspouts. They’re there for a reason! (and not just to trip you).
You can also check your water seepage to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home after a storm. The next time it rains hard enough for water to accumulate on the ground, inspect the outside of your home to see if it’s running away or pooling near the foundation. When water accumulates by the foundation of your house, it can cause cracks, water damage, and eventually, mold.
2. Check your backflow valve
One of the worst damp situations you can have in your home is a sewer backup in your basement. Homes built during or after the ‘90s have a system in place to protect from backups. It’s known as a backflow valve. Most people don’t even know they’re there, but this is an essential piece of your home that can save you from a lot of damage.
It’s important (and extremely easy) to keep your backflow valve maintained. Check out our previous post on How to Maintain Your Backflow Valve for specifics.
3. Prevent mold growth by keeping your humidity controlled & maintaining exhaust fans
Where there’s water, there’s mold. Mold spores can also grow in places of high humidity. That’s why it’s important to make sure exhaust fans are in place in areas where there’s high humidity, like kitchens and bathrooms. You can also install a dehumidifier in your home, or use an air conditioner to control humidity in the summer.
4. Clean areas where mold might develop (like bathrooms) with bleach
Bleach can kill mold spores easily when they’re growing on a non-porous surface. So when you discover mold on your floor tiles, walls, counters, and bathtubs/showers, you can easily clean it with bleach. However, when it comes to porous surfaces like wood, you’ll likely need to call a mold specialist or a renovation or restoration company.
5. Completely dry out your space and check the humidity after a flood
Once you’ve removed the standing water after a flood, there’s still a risk for mold to grow in a damp and humid environment. Opened windows may not be enough to dry the area thoroughly, so bring in as many fans as possible to assist. Anything that can’t be completely dried (like rugs, carpet, or furniture) should be removed. The entire area (including walls, floors, shelves, and closets) can be cleaned with diluted bleach to prevent mold from growing.
If you’re worried there’s still a risk for mold, call a qualified home inspector in Edmonton and have him or her check your humidity levels and perform sampling for molds and mold spores.
6. Deal with any major mold issues you find right away
Indoors, mold can be extremely dangerous. Exposure to mold causes symptoms similar to colds and allergies. If you’re coughing, sneezing, and feeling stuffy for months on end, it may be more than just allergies acting up.
In an indoor environment, removing mold presents health risks and you should always wear gloves and a face mask or respirator. Spray diluted bleach on the impacted areas and let it sit before wiping it away.
For more serious mold issues (like mold buildup behind your walls or on porous surfaces), be sure to call an expert to restore your property.
7. Have your home inspected once every ten years to check for mold growth, signs of water damage, and risk factors for both
A professional home inspector will be able to see warning signs that can help you prevent a messy situation. Mold can cause adverse health effects, ongoing damage, and eventually, result in expensive mold remediation and restoration specialists. It could also decrease the value of your home when you go to sell it.
If you think a home or business space you’re buying might have moisture problems or mold, be sure to contact an Edmonton home inspector for a pre-purchase inspection. It’s better to know beforehand so you can make an informed decision and put a plan in place for cleaning.