One of the hidden and dangerous complications often encountered during a home renovation is the discovery of mold. It might surprise some homeowners to learn that mold poses an equally toxic danger as asbestos when you are opening up your walls and ceiling during renovation. Regardless of the age or location of the home, wherever there is moisture, there is the threat of mold growth. This is especially true in Ottawa where our winter weather brings lots of melting and moisture come spring time.
Not only is mold dangerous for human exposure, but it also causes the additional expense of removal during custom renovations or home additions. Since mold is not necessarily visible to the naked eye, it can come as a shock when we find it hidden beneath walls, floors, or in our basements or ducts when we start to renovate.
How Harmful is Mold?
While there are two types of mold, toxic and non-toxic, don’t be fooled by labels: both pose respiratory dangers and need to be removed as soon as possible once found. This is because mold is a fungus that releases spores into the air that can affect our breathing and general health through asthma attacks, allergic reactions, skin or respiratory irritations, headaches and even serious infections.
Mold can also damage the structure of your home if left untreated, including home insulation, wall studs, carpet and drywall. Since mold eventually eats through the surfaces that it is growing on, it is imperative that homeowners follow three key steps when dealing with the presence of mold.
Since mold is not necessarily visible in the home at first glance, home renovation work can often experience delays due to the detection of hidden mold. Once mold in a significant amount is found, renovations in that area must stop due to the dangers they pose to not only the workers but the homeowners as well. Since mold is an immediate removal issue (whereas asbestos is more of a long-term issue), the first call once mold is detected in large quantities should be to mold inspection and removal experts who can diagnose the extent of the contamination and provide proper advice on removal.
If you are thinking of undertaking a home renovation or addition, it would be wise to do a quick inspection yourself if you suspect mold contamination. Look for black, brown, yellow, green or pinkish stains on drywall, windows or basement surfaces. Additionally, since mold off-gasses, it has a ‘musty’ smell and this is a reliable sign of contamination. If you walk into your basement and notice this odour, there is a good chance you have mold.
Regardless of what kind of home renovation you undertake, or which company you contract with, mold removal should be prioritized above all other work until the site is certified clean from contamination. Ideally, mold can be identified prior to any renovation work being undertaken. However, homeowners should be aware that the detection of mold during the course of renovation will cause unplanned delays and expenses. While nobody really wants to budget for mold removal, you can’t afford to ignore it. Holland Homes and Renovations will work together with you on any mold related issues to coordinate removal and ensure a speedy return to the project at hand.
How to Prevent Mold
Since mold is a fungus that requires moisture to grow, there are some easy steps homeowners can take to prevent growth in the first place, or prevent future growth once mold is discovered.
- Ventilation: Make sure that showers and stoves are properly ventilated to the outside using either an exhaust fan or window if necessary. Dryers should also be vented to the outside of the house.
- Lower indoor moisture levels: Air conditioners and dehumidifiers are good appliances that reduce humidity in the home. If your basement feels wet or damp, it is best to have a dehumidifier running frequently to remove that moisture. Purchase a hygrometer, an inexpensive tool that can measure indoor relative humidity (RH). In the winter, ensure RH levels are 35 percent or lower. In the summer, make sure RH levels remain below 55 percent.
- Remove water: Foundation leaks, roof leaks, or burst pipes are all sources of unwanted water into the home. These must be dealt with immediately by drying the affected area or calling professional help to remove the unwanted water before it damages your home or causes mold to grow. Keep in mind that mold can grow within 24 hours if the right conditions are present.