Friday, October 24, 2014

Preventing Mildew Saves Removing It

Preventing Mildew

Mildew that has developed in your home is easy to remove. All you have to do is mix 1 cup of powdered laundry detergent (less if concentrated) and 1 quart of liquid bleach with 3 quarts of warm water. And, in minutes – scrubbing with a bristle brush makes the mildew disappear. Although this is a reasonably mild solution that can be used for most painted surfaces, rubber gloves and eye protection should be used.

Problem is, the mildew isn’t the real problem. Mildew is the effect – not the cause. Mildew can’t grow without a food source, and the food source that mildew thrives on is moisture.

Mold and mildew (mold in its early stage) are fungi that happily and quickly grow anywhere there is moisture. They serve an important purpose in our environment by helping to destroy organic materials such as leaves, thereby enriching the soil. But that same attribute can cause a serious health issue for people living in a moldy home: respiratory problems; sinus congestion; eye, nose, or throat irritation; and headaches. Infants, children, pregnant women, elderly individuals, and people with existing respiratory conditions are at a higher risk for these problems. Check for areas in your home where there could be high humidity or water damage, such as a damp basement or crawl space. Mildew and mold can grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, and insulation. These growths can begin to develop on a damp surface within 24 and 48 hours and produce spores that travel through the air. They will break down and destroy whatever they're growing on and can cause mild to severe health problems for you and your family.

Mildew spores are in the air – everywhere. They spend all of their time look­ing for moist places to settle, feed and grow.

How to Prevent Mildew

So how do you prevent mildew from growing in the first place?

  1. Simple, reduce or eliminate the food source – cut down on the amount of moisture (usually found in the form of condensation) that is allowed to settle on the walls, floors and ceilings. This may not be as simple for someone who lives in Flori­da as it would be for a family that lives in West Texas. But, given varying degrees of attention eradication is possible even in relatively humid cli­mates.
  2. Improving air circulation inside the home reduces the chance of condensation and makes it hard for mildew to find a place to grow.

But the problem can’t always be found inside the home. Sometimes the culprit is damp earth beneath the floor.

The area under a wood-floor home can generate a substantial amount of moisture that mildew can use to feed on. What happens is simple. Natural warmth from the floor of the home emanates downward into the sub area, the warmth vapor­izes the moisture in the damp soil, and the vapors rise into the floor and walls above – creating a new place for mildew to thrive.

It’s best to prevent moisture from getting into the subarea in the first place, but once it’s there it can be dealt with.

If the moisture in the subarea was created by a one-time occurrence then a fan can be used to circulate the air and dry out the earth.

Managing Long-term Moisture Problems

If the dampness is an ongoing problem, then a layer of polyethylene sheeting (use the 6 mil thickness) should be laid on the earth in the subarea. When the heat from the house attacks the moisture in the dirt below, condensation is forced to occur on the underside of the plastic instead of on the underside of the wood floor and walls above.

Installation of the plastic sheeting can provide a decade of protection as long as certain pests (rats, mice, moles, gophers, snakes, etc.) aren’t making a home there. But that’s another article.

Anyhow, it’s important that the layer of plastic be tape-sealed at all joints, at all points where it adjoins the foundation walls and where it surrounds foundation piers. Taping serves two functions: it helps to hold the plastic sheeting in place and prevents moisture vapors from seeping through. Two-inch duct tape is best.

And for assistance with all of your home repair needs, Pro-Fix Home Repair stands ready to help.  Give us a call at 770-575-2533.
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