How to Fight Mold Allergies in Your Home
Mold and mildew growth in your home are signs that moisture has been allowed to accumulate and exist for extended periods. It’s not uncommon to see it growing in the shower or even in the kitchen, where moisture is a constant presence.
However, if you have had any sort of water leak, a spill or an excessive amount of splashing – any type of liquid that may not have been cleaned up completely – your home is at a high risk for mold growth.
What is mold?
Mold is a fungus made up of organisms that are part enzyme and part spore, so basically, mold consumes and reproduces. It prefers moist, cool places, but mold can grow pretty much anywhere, including basements, attics, window sills and air conditioning ductwork.
Mold is, in large part, responsible for decomposition of plants and animals, and it is also used to produce beneficial penicillin, and it makes cheese, too.
So mold isn’t all bad, right?
Why is it bad?
The problem with mold is that when there are no dead organisms to consume, it will take whatever it can get. This includes drywall, insulation, wallpaper and carpet backing. Some mold feeds on the everyday dust and dirt that float around your home – things that it’s impossible to completely get rid of.
Left unchecked, mold can grow out of control, eating up the wall coverings, floors and structural elements of your home. It looks filthy and can be nearly impossible to clean of some surfaces. In addition, it has a slimy texture that can make it dangerous to walk on, and finally, it has a musty smell when it grows out of control.
More than any of these things, though, mold can make you and your loved ones very sick. About 10% of people have a severe mold allergy, meaning that when they are exposed to it, they feel flu-ish. Headaches, sinus issues, skin rashes and coughing are all symptoms of mold allergies.
Some people are even more susceptible to mold, including babies, elderly people and people with compromised immune systems. These groups should not be exposed to even a small amount of mold.
How can you fight it?
Once you have identified mold in your home, you need to remove it ASAP. That’s easier said than done since mold spores are microscopic and aren’t caught by most normal air filters.
You cannot get rid of an allergy, but you can manage it, especially within your home.
Use your air conditioning.
Air conditioning is now known as a way to cool your home effectively, but it was originally designed to keep humidity low in manufacturing plants. When there isn’t much humidity in your home, mold doesn’t have as good an opportunity to take hold. Although it may drive your energy costs up a little to run the air conditioning, it will be well worth it when you don’t have to do costly renovations because of mold.
Add a dehumidifier if necessary.
If your home is especially humid or if you live in a very humid climate, you may want to consider a dehumidifier for your home. The bedroom is a good place for it since the bedroom is usually close to the bedroom and the living room. Any place in your home that feels extra humid is an appropriate place to put a dehumidifier, including children’s rooms or the garage.
Install a HEPA filter.
A HEPA filter catches many more and much smaller particles than a regular air filter. You can buy a stand-alone air filter for your home, or you can have one installed in your air conditioner instead of a traditional one. Talk with your air conditioning service person before your scheduled appointment so they will know that you want one. They aren’t that much more expensive than regular ones, and they can prevent mold spores from floating freely through your AC system.
Prevent mold buildup.
In the bathroom, you can open a window when you shower, or turn on the exhaust fan to filter out the humidity. Keep bathrooms and kitchens extra clean by wiping down surfaces with effective cleaning products of your choice, and take out the trash often. Clean up messes as soon as they happen, and have leaks repaired quickly.
Even if no one in your home has a specific mold allergy, you should observe these tips. A buildup of mold, if it is severe enough, can make anyone feel symptoms. Plus, it can cause major damage to your home.