A homeowner’s guide to mold

Cleaning mold yourself? Be careful. Never mix ammonia with bleach (it produces toxic fumes). And use a 10% solution of bleach — it’s more effective than straight bleach. Also, remember to wear gloves, wear eye protection and ventilate the area well.

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Tips to keep your family healthy and your investment protected

As a current or prospective homeowner, you have several reasons to be concerned about mold.

  • Health: Extensive mold contamination can lead to allergic reaction, asthma and other health problems
  • Property value: Left unchecked, mold can hurt the value of your home
  • Property damage: Unchecked mold growth can seriously damage floors, walls, ceilings, carpets, cabinets and furnishings

Preventing and eliminating mold requires eliminating the moisture source from your home. At Tahoe Mold and Water, we’re experts at finding and remediating mold. (link to mold remediation page) We know where mold hides, how it spreads — and how to remove it safely and effectively.

You want to protect your home because it’s one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. But more importantly, you want to protect the people in your home. Here are a few tips to help you keep your home healthy and free from mold:

If you’re buying a home . . .

  • Look for mold: Standing water in the basement, waters marks on walls and musty smells can indicate mold.
  • Ask about stucco: Ask whether the home includes an Exterior Insulation and Finishing System (EIFS), also known as “synthetic stucco.” It’s designed to improve insulation, but unless installed to precise specifications, it can allow water penetration and mold growth.
  • Listen to your inspector: Your home inspector may notice signs of mold or water damage. (Appraisers also should notify you of a mold problem if it could affect the value of the property.)
  • Ask the seller to disclose mold problems: Even in states like California that don’t require mold disclosure, you can still ask for such disclosure. And you can ask questions about issues that could result in mold growth, such as burst pipes or basement flooding.
  • Add a mold contingency to your offer: Make the sale contingent upon the results of a mold inspection. That way, you can back out if a serious problem surfaces.

If you own a home . . .

These tips come from the International Code Council and other sources:

  • Regularly inspect your property for mold or mildew
  • Fix leaky plumbing and leaks as soon as possible
  • Watch for condensation and wet spots
  • Prevent condensation by reducing the humidity in the air (keep indoor humidity between 30% and 59% if possible)
  • Increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry) or de-humidify (if outside air is warm and humid)
  • Use exhaust fans to vent moist air from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room
  • Consider adding mold inhibitors before painting
  • Keep heating, ventilation and air conditioning drip pans clean and properly flowing
  • Use mold-killing products when cleaning your kitchen and bathroom
  • Don’t let water accumulate under houseplants
  • Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent ground moisture from coming in
  • Ensure crawl spaces are well-ventilated
  • Conduct regular inspection and maintenance of HVAC systems
  • Install the best filters you can afford for heating and cooling systems (HEPA systems are particularly effective)
  • Check and clean gutters often to avoid clogs
  • Slope the outside ground away from the foundation
  • Replace carpets , drapes and furnishings that have been damaged by water and cannot be property cleaned and dried
  • Install effective detailing, flashing and sealing around doors, windows and penetrations
  • Use fans and de-humidifiers as needed to promote adequate air circulation (which helps reduce moisture levels)