The 4-1-1 on Mold in Austin Homes and Businesses
What is mold?
According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, mold is a fungus that thrives when organic substances and water are together under the right conditions. The organic substances in this definition include soil, compost, carpets, drywall, fiberboard, wood, paper, dust and lint.
Where does mold grow?
Mold grows wherever its nutrients (water and organic material) are together for any length of time. It can grow almost anywhere, inside or outside. Although the floods may have receded, the possibility of mold has not. In a climate with as much humidity as Austin, carpets and wood do not dry out quickly at all.
It’s not just floods homeowners should watch out for. Because mold is so ubiquitous and versatile, it can grow in homes that sustained no flood damage at all. It can grow in the tub of your washing machine if it doesn’t drain completely. If fact, it can grow in any fixture (sink, tub, shower, etc.) that doesn’t drain completely if it’s not clean. While HVAC systems do not create mold, they have the capacity to create environments in which mold flourishes. That’s why it’s important to do regular AC maintenance, Austin! Those maintenance procedures work to keep drain pans empty and duct systems free of lint, dust and dander.
When is mold most likely to occur?
Mold is most likely to occur in places where there is standing water or excessive condensation. Floodwaters create mold contamination, but so do other forms of water damage like leaky roofs or busted pipes. If your home has had a previous mold problem, it is more susceptible to have additional mold problems. The spores can lay dormant until the conditions provide the catalyst for growth.
Why should you be concerned with mold?
Having mold in your home can cause allergic reactions, flu-like symptoms and worsening asthma conditions for you and your family. Aside from the effects on humans, mold can also affect the structural integrity of the building structure if left untreated long enough.
How do you know if you have mold in your home?
If you experience cold symptoms or allergic reactions that cannot be otherwise explained or if you smell mold or mildew, there is a good chance you have mold in your home. If you’ve experienced any type of water damage in the past, chances are also good you have mold in your home now. To know for sure, you should contact a mold assessment firm. They are required to be licensed by through the Texas Department of State Health Services. Go to http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mold/profession.shtm to locate a licensed mold professional. If they determine that your HVAC system or your ductwork is contaminated with mold you can contact an HVAC contractor to clean or replace the equipment as recommended by the firm.
How do you prevent mold?
If your home, or a specific room in your home, seems to trap humidity, consider adding a dehumidification system to keep mold spores at bay. Just like you do during West Nile season, empty areas of standing water in and around your home. Make sure your roof drains properly and doesn’t form puddles on rainy days. Seal windows with caulk. Change you’re air conditioning filter on a regular basis and have an a/c contractor perform seasonal air conditioning maintenance.