Information about how hidden mold in our homes can make us sick has been well documented by the media and contractors who make a living removing mold from buildings. We all expect that mold might be lurking in the moist and dark places in our homes, such as in basements or crawl spaces. But there are many other places mold could be growing in your house that you might never find out about, unless you do a little exploration. Let’s take a look at some of the places mold spores can thrive, so you know what to look for.
1. Window Sills
We don’t often spend a lot of time examining our window sills, but they are a prime place for mold to start and spread. Window sills are frequently exposed to moisture from condensation, and they only get decent air flow during the summer months if the windows are open. The dirt that accumulates in the grooves of the sills supply valuable food to spores and they can grow quickly.
To prevent mold in your window sills, be sure to wipe down windows when you see a lot of condensation and clean out the window tracks periodically to remove the mold’s food source.
2. Refrigerator Drip Pans
The pans used to collect condensation for our refrigerators are rarely seen, so they are easy to forget about. There is not a lot of air circulation under the fridge in most homes, and what is out of sight is, usually, out of mind. Sometimes, food from spills collects in there as well. This creates a perfect breeding ground for mold spores.
Make a yearly appointment to clean out the drip pan using water and white vinegar. If you notice a lot of mold growth, increase the cleanings to twice per year. Also, use this vinegar and water solution on the flooring below the pan, just in case the mold wants to grow here as well.
Unless you are removing paper from your walls, you are unlikely to know if mold spores are growing behind it. If the paper is older or has peeling edges, it’s possible mold has begun spreading where you can’t see. If you suspect you might have a mold problem, it’s best to just get the paper removed and replaced. If you know for a fact that there is a great deal of mold behind the paper, don’t remove it yourself. Instead, hire a trained professional to get rid of it and sterilize the area. Only a pro will know how to prevent huge amounts of spores from launching into the air when the paper is removed.
If you want to have decorative paper on your walls, treat the surface first with a mold-resistant primer. Use a high-quality paste to adhere the wallpaper, and be sure to remove all the air bubbles from behind it. Do not use wallpaper in moist areas such as bathrooms or basements.
If you have any sort of water leak in your room, chances are good that mold could be growing in your attic. The dust that accumulates in attics paired with little air flow makes a perfect environment for spores to thrive.
Check your attic periodically for mold and make sure there are air vents to aid circulation to the area. If you have any roof leaks, get them repaired immediately. It is best to regularly have your roof inspected to catch any leaks before then cause a serious problem, Especially after a heavy rainstorm or other harsh weather.
5. Air Conditioners
Again, condensation is the culprit here. In addition, the air that AC units suck in from the outside contains dirt and pollen – attractive materials for mold. Machines that sit without use for long periods are likely to contain mold spores.
Prevent mold by running your air conditioner every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. If you have a window unit, remove it and store it in a dry place when not in use, if possible. If you know your AC has mold, either remove it from the window or hire a professional to do so and have the interior cleaned carefully. If your whole- house AC has mold, it’s best to call in a professional to clean it.
6. Washing Machines
The popular front-load washing machines may be great for high efficiency, but they are notorious for off odors as a result of mold growth. The gasket around the door is wet all the time when the washer is running and doesn’t get to dry out, because the door is usually clesed when the machine is not in use. This creates the perfect atmosphere for mold to grow. Below are some ways to help prevent or remove mold from your washing machine:
- Either leave the door open after running a load, to let the gasket dry, or wipe the gasket with a cloth when your washing is finished.
- If mold already exists in the gasket, kill it with a hot water and vinegar and baking soda solution, followed by a fungicidal spray.
- Regular use of your washer’s recommended washing machine cleaner on the cleaning cycle, will help prevent growth.
- Avoid using liquid fabric softeners, as they leave a gummy build up in your washer, which is food for mold.
- Remove clothes immediately after the wash cycle has finished.
Depending how well a chimney is capped off, it might take in a good amount of water from rain and snow. Plus, it’s likely that leaves and other organic materials are entering the space and this all combines to create perfect conditions for mold to grow. The porous surfaces of bricks and mortar only add to the problem.
To prevent mold growth in your chimney, first make sure the top is covered appropriately. Then it’s best to call in a professional chimney cleaner to remove mold and keep your chmney puffing along at it’s best.
8. Carpets and Pads
Moisture from concrete floors or wet crawl spaces can easily make it’s way into your carpet pad and eventually the carpet. If you have pets who occasionally have accidents on the carpet, this can increase the potential for mold pores to grow there. If your carpet starts to smell odd or seems damp, unfortunately it might be too late – mold is probably already growing.
The simplest way to prevent mold growth on carpet or padding – regardless of moisture level – is to keep the carpet clean. Dirt, as we’ve discovered, encourages mold growth. By vacuumming at least once per week and having your carpets cleaned periodically, you can prevent mold spores from blooming in your carpet.
Mold is present in most places and sometimes is can make people sick. If you would like to keep your home a healthy space to inhabit, these places should be monitored for potential problems. Fortunately, solutions are simple to achieve with a little diligence and education on what to look for and how to respond.