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12 steps to prevent mold growth in Texas

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Submitted by Phillip Fry and Divine Montero (Certified Environmental Hygienists, Certified Mold Inspectors and Certified Mold Remediators)

Because any type of mold growth in elevated levels indoors can harm occupant health, the prevention of indoor mold problems in Texas homes, offices, and workplaces can significantly improve the health well-being of residents. 

Here are the top twelve tips to prevent indoor mold problems in homes, condominiums, apartments, and other buildings, as recommended by Phillip Fry and Divine Montero, Certified Environmental Hygienists, Certified Mold Inspectors, Certified Mold Remediators and co-managers of www.moldinspector.com and www.envirodetectives.com.

1. Keep year-round indoor humidity to less than sixty percent through adequate ventilation air movement and the use of air conditioning and dehumidifiers. Indoor mold grows very well when the indoor relative humidity is above 70 percent. In addition, minimize the use of live indoor plants, which facilitate mold growth and increase indoor humidity due to frequent watering. 

High Texas humidity (Gulf coast and East Texas areas); roof leaks; plumbing leaks; basement wall, siding, and window water leaks; internal air conditioning condensation/dust accumulation; and ground water wicking up through concrete floors and inside crawl spaces (e.g., beneath manufactured homes) are the major causes of Texas mold problems.

2. Keep indoor humidity levels low by never: (a) using a humidifier to increase humidity; (b) hanging wet clothes, towels, and linens to dry indoors; and (c) taking a shower or bath without first turning on the bathroom exhaust fan or opening a bathroom window to exhaust humid air to the outdoors.

3. Use a digital hygrometer to check humidity levels in all rooms and areas of your house or condominium. Record the humidity percentage and the measurement dates for each room in a journal or log book.  

4. Clean window air conditioners, central air conditioning equipment and ducts, air purifiers, and dehumidifiers at least every three months to get rid of accumulated organic dust and dirt (good mold food) and mold growth. Air conditioners: (a) enable mold to grow through the internal condensation of water; (b) blow airborne mold spores into the indoor living area.

5. Install HEPA filters inside the heating/cooling air supply duct registers, return air register, and the fresh air supply intake to capture and remove airborne mold spores from the air flow. Use portable HEPA filter air cleaners to remove airborne mold spores. 

6. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to vacuum carpeting and rugs and mop tile floors daily to remove deposited/landed mold spores and dirt and dust (good mold food). Use borax laundry detergent or boric acid powder in warm water to wash down all walls, floors, kitchen and bathroom cabinets and surfaces, and furniture and appliances at least monthly for the same reason.

7. Mold test the outward air flow from window air conditioners and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (hvac) duct registers and the air of each room at least annually for elevated levels of airborne mold spores. You can do it yourself with mold test kits from www.envirodetectives.com/mold_test_kits.htm.

8. Use your nose to detect mold problems: if you smell mold, there is mold growing, whether visible or hidden inside the air conditioning equipment and ducts, walls, ceilings, attic and/or crawl space.

9. Inspect the roof, attic, exterior siding, ceilings, walls, floors, rugs (both sides) wood furniture, and behind and beneath furniture on a regular basis for water leaks, water stains, water damage, and mold growth. Mold causes visible discoloration of wood and other building materials. Mold can be many colors including black, white, blue, green, white, yellow, and pink. 

10. Inspect inside the attic (the open space between ceilings and the roof), crawl space beneath a building, basement, garage, and exterior siding regularly for water leaks, water stains, water damage, and mold growth. Such areas often have high humidity and water intrusion problems that drive mold growth. Mold can then grow upward, downward, or sidewise into the adjoining floors, ceilings, and walls. 

11. Inspect bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room plumbing areas (such as inside and beneath sinks and sink cabinets) regularly for water leaks, water damage, and mold growth. 

12. Monitor residents and employees’ health. Are family members, residents, employees, guests, and/or their pets suffering from health problems that may be mold-related, such as chronic coughs or sneezing, sinus problems, chronic tiredness, headaches, difficulty in remembering and thinking, skin rashes, open skin sores, abnormal hair loss, chronic dandruff problems, or breathing disorders?  

If someone is suffering chronic health problems, such difficulties are a possible sign that the residence, office, or workplace should be mold-inspected. Visit your doctor promptly for help with any health problem. For inspection, use do it yourself mold test kits or contact a Certified Mould Inspector or Certified Environmental Hygienist.

Fry is author of five mold advice ebooks: Mold Monsters; Mold Health Guide; Mold Legal Guide; Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Inspection, Testing, Remediation, and Prevention; and Mold Home Remedy Recipes, all available for purchase and download from http://www.moldmart.net.

For free answers to your mold questions or problems, please email Phillip Fry and Divine Montero at envirodangers@yahoo.com or visit their mold websites www.moldinspector.com and www.envirodetectives.com.


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