With Black Mold being a very big health issue, it is important to address this problem as a preventative issue rather than reactionary, because mold cleanup can be very costly and can affect our family health. This is especially true of young infants, children, the elderly and anyone with lung problems such as asthma or emphysema or allergies. Black mold outgases VOC's which are Volatile Organic Compounds and this greatly compromises our indoor air quality.
To make matters worse, many insurance companies are denying claims related to black mold and black mold cleanup because of the frequency and cost of such cleanup.
Things You Will NeedMoisture Sensor
Various Repair Tools
Step 1The first step in black mold prevention is to control the humidity level in your home. You can check the humidity level with a good humidity sensor, also know as moisture meter or hydrometer, which measures the amount of moisture or humidity in your air. Once you have determined that the level of humidity is too high in your home, you can reduce it with a good quality dehumidifier. Air conditioning also removes humidity from our homes, but at a greater cost in electrical usage and detriment to the environment.
Step 2Fix all leaking plumbing, pipes that you find. That leaking drain or pipe beneath your sink can not only create a mess of the cabinet, it can harbor black mold both within and underneath your cabinets. Fix leaky toilets, showers, washers or any faucet that is constantly leaking round the base of the faucet or underneath. Watch out for sewer backups and rusty pipes with crusty buildup. Also be aware that uninsulated water pipes can that are not leaking can be a problem with condensation in a high humidity area such as a basement or crawl space. Wrap all piping with pipe insulaion, wherever you can.
Step 3If you have water coming in your basement there are several things to check from blocked gutters or downspouts to incorrect grading around the exterior of your home. If the grade slopes toward your foundation or your gutters or roof drain directly against your foundation, this could cause water leaks into your basement. Check for basement wall cracks, discoloration of basement walls or damp areas and water coming up through the floor, which is likely a ground water table problem.
Refer to my articles on How to Determine if I Need to Waterproof a Basement and How to Cure a Damp Basement.
If you have condensation on you basement or crawl space walls, this can mean there is too much humidity in the living space. You also should consider adding insualtion to your basement walls. This can be placed on the exterior of the wall during new construction and or the interior after construction is complete.
Step 4Fix any roofing problems you may have. Shingles that have started to decompose, missing shingles, cracked roof tiles and improper or missing flashing should be repaired.
A greater problem is the formation of ice dams for those of us in the cold weather states. If you have any formation of ice cycles on your roof, this is an indication of inadequate attic ventilaion or a blocked pathway for air to properly ventilate your roof. This can cause ice dams, which backup melting snow on your roof under the shingles and it eventually saturates your roof/ceiling areas and the exterior cavities of the outside walls.
Another common roof leak culprit is a leaky chimney. This can be from faulty flashing from the roof into he chimney to a cracked chimney cap. Repair flashings, waterproof masonry with a liquid penetrating sealer and replace or put a metal cap on that cracked chimney cap.
Step 5Check all exterior doors and windows. Often window heads are not flashed properly and need to have the flashing redone. Also cracked or missing caulking can let a lot of moisture into a wall with a driving rain. Also if you detect condensation on your windows you may need higher performance glass (i.e.) sealed insulated units), and you may have too much humidity in your living space.
Step 6Ventilation can be a key factor to reducing moisture within a home. It is best to keep air pressure within the home slightly higher than outside the home. This is referred to as positive air pressure. If you have a negative air pressure this will force moisture and pollutants back into the living spaces. Care should be taken not to provide too much positive air pressure as this can cause moisture to be forced into structural and wall cavities, compounding the moisture problem. Adjust the supply air to be slightly greater than the exhaust air.
Step 7Properly vent all combustion appliances directly outdoors. This can include space heaters, ranges, ovens, stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters and dryers. Also make sure all high moisture areas in your house such as laundry rooms and bathrooms have proper ventilation fans installed and are vented properly.
Black mold can be frightening when first detected. By utilizing these tips to minimize excess humidity in your home and keeping ahead of leaks, you will be able to keep this unwelcome visitor out of your home.
Tips & WarningsIf you suspect high humidity in your house, consider buying a good hydrometer or moisture meter.
Also consider purchase of a good quality dehumidifier for moisture laden areas of your home.