Each autumn or winter in Sacramento, when windows are closed, especially during rain storms, black mold begins to creep up walls, sometimes starting where the moisture forms at the top or bottom of walls. The black mold also can start in your garage or other storage rooms, especially in areas where the bare wood is bowing and is not painted with a glossy or semi-glossy paint or other covering that makes it difficult for moisture to collect and rot the wood.
Here's how to get rid of the unhealthy mold and fungi in your house that builds up all winter now that you're doing your spring cleaning. You'll be taking wood moisture readings with a moisture meter you'll get at your local hardware store. Sometime mold forms as you cook foods where the boiling water evaporates and condenses on walls in the kitchen or wafts out to the colder living room or home office walls. Bleach on a cloth can get rid of that black mold and mildew just as it's beginning to come back, usually each year in the same location. Mold and mildew also can form on shower curtains and on bathroom or kitchen tile walls and in shower stalls.
Homes with rotting outdoor windowsills, usually from the bathroom and bedroom due to moisture, often are overlooked. When wood moisture causes allergies, toxic mold or other damage problems in your cooking spaces, house, or apartment, start to solve the problem by first taking wood moisture readings. Chlorine bleach can get rid of the mold as can scrubbing with soap, water, and vinegar or baking soda, but are you finding it comes right back a few weeks later and in the same location year after year?
Buy a moisture meter
Buy a moisture meter at your local hardware or home improvement center. Insert the probes into the wood and read the indicator. It will tell you the percent of moisture in the surface. You just have two steps to perform to rid your house of moisture than can cause mold to grow. If you have leaks, get them repaired.
Aside from obvious water leakage, you need to change from paper and cardboard storage boxes to materials that don't attract insects or rodents and don't absorb moisture from the humidity. Don't store items in fabric storage contains that attract moisture, bugs, and mold. Space bags help since you create a vacuum inside, even though they're plastic. Mold grows on fabric and on seams around zippers made of fabric.
Your first step is to take readings from every corner of a crawl space and the damp areas around plumbing fixtures in kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and bathrooms. Take readings around the sills under sliding glass doors.
Also get readings from places where chimneys, porches, garages, and patios attach to the house. If you use a pest control firm, ask them to take moisture readings and stay round so you can get a copy of the recordings and watch how they do it so you can do it yourself periodically.
In addition to the toxic mold that grows on wood, fungi will only decay wood with moisture content above the fiber saturation point, which is 30 percent by weight for most species used in construction, according to the North Carolina State University’s site. The publication also states that wood with a moisture content of 20 percent and above is susceptible to decay. Make sure the moisture readings of wood in your home or apartment are below the fungi, decay, or mold levels.
Allergies and black mold on wood
Be aware that wood moisture may cause allergies such as coughs or runny nose, and the symptoms are sometimes similar to pollen allergies. Because of the past few months of wet winter and spring, numerous homes are currently suffering from wood mold problems, especially around window sills and frames. See, Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips.
After cleaning mold or mildew, wash your clothes, since the mold spores have fallen on you. If you put your clothes away without washing, the mold spores will grow in whatever environment you place your clothes. Also check the seal on your refrigerator door, where mold is likely to grow unseen.
For the sake of health, it's important to get rid of black mold on your walls. The mold can irritate your lungs or aggravate asthma conditions. Other types of allergies can result from having black mold creep up your walls from the dampness or humidity.
See the North Carolina State University’s site for tips on how to take wood moisture readings. At that Web site you’ll see their publication titled, Moisture Control and Prevention Guide - North Carolina. You can also check out the government site, A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home | Mold and Moisture.
Check for moisture levels in the wood of your home or apartment
Your local hardware store carries inexpensive instruments to measure moisture levels in the wood of your home. Learn how to check for moisture levels before your wood decays or becomes moldy, infested, decayed, and toxic.
Your last step is to get rid of storage products in rooms, closets, or garage that contain cellulose, fabric, cardboard, and paper (made from wood). Paper or cardboard boxes stored in closets and garages draw insects and mice that feed on paper and cellulose. Store in plastic or metal containers or glass jars, not in cardboard and paper.
Make sure your books, index cards, recipes, and paper documents are not subject to moisture or light or in open areas where bugs and worms can eat the paper or glue. Book or display cases need doors to protect the objects from dust, sunlight, moisture, acid, and mites. Is the indoor air warmer than outdoor air? If so, moisture can collect on cold surfaces like single-pane windows, uninsulated walls, pipes and roofs or even in your mattress and pillows.
Make sure your air conditioning ducts are free of mold and dampness since mold and bacteria can grow where it's wet, moist, or damp. Check out the Living Green Solution site article, Controlling Mold in Your Home. According to that website, mold grows in the following moist places in your home:
- Clogged gutters and downspouts
- Leaky plumbing or drainage problems
- Leaky roofs
- Damp basements and crawl spaces
- Steam from the bathroom or kitchen
- Condensation resulting from poor or improper insulation or ventilation
- Wet clothes drying inside the home or a clothes dryer venting indoors
- Poor or improper ventilation of combustion appliances