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21 September 2011

Molds in the basement and house top questions?

I have received a number of questions regarding mold in the home the e-Extension fact sheets are available and I pieced together some of the common questions. One of the most interesting is the dilution rate for the chlorine bleach to treat walls. If you choose to disinfect here are some considerations. 

              Key points when using bleach. Ventilate during treatment, where a respirator if to protect lungs.  The rates here are very concentrated and will damage certain items. For shock chlorinated wells the rate is 100 ppm that would equate to about 1 ounce in 3 gallons of water I relate  this to illustrate that more is not always better.  For the basement many sources I have checked  are going with a much higher concentration  of 10% that would be about 12.8 ounce per gallon of water so be sure you use caution. I would make an error on the less dilute than more.  It is not always recommended that this treatment be done ventilation and proper removal of mold containing objects are more logical.  Disinfect Surfaces - (if desired) after cleaning the affected area as described above, wipe down the wall, ceiling, or floor again using a mixture of liquid household chlorine bleach and water. If you are cleaning a small area, use 5 cups of water mixed with 1/2 cup bleach. If you are cleaning a large area, use a 5-gallon pail of water and add 1/2 gallon of bleach to it. Be sure to open windows when you use bleach, so you have fresh air to breathe and the bleach does not irritate your lungs. Always handle bleach with caution. Also be sure to follow all the directions and warnings on the bleach label. Thoroughly dry the area as quickly as possible. Be sure to wait at least 10 minutes or more before washing off the bleach to ensure proper disinfection.  NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA.

Formulations containing sodium hypochlorite.  http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=chem&id=146

MSDS sheet for bleach  http://www.thecloroxcompany.com/products/msds/bleach/cloroxregularbleach0809_.pdf

Label for Clorox and numerous uses.
http://www.clorox.com/pdf/5813-50_service-bulletins.pdf



What are molds?

Molds are microorganisms. They are found everywhere. They can grow on almost anything if it is moist enough. Inside your home molds grow quickly on damp surfaces like bathroom walls and trim around windows. Molds may look like furry growth, black stains, or specks of black, white, orange, green, or brown.

What do molds do to our body?

When a growth of mold appears, it can send clouds of invisible bits of mold through the air. These bits of mold can cause infections, allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems. To avoid these health problems, keep your home as mold-free as possible.

How does mold get into our homes?

The more people who live in a home, the more likely it is that molds will grow inside it. This is because we release a lot of moisture in the air when we breathe. When we take long hot showers, cook with uncovered pots, dry clothes on an indoor clothesline, or use humidifiers, we also make more moisture for molds to grow. Storing wet firewood, watering many plants, and storing many vegetables like potatoes and squash can make a mold problem more likely, too.

How can I tell if I have a mold problem?

Any part of your home that gets wet is likely to be moldy. Check:
  • for leaks in your roof or plumbing. If water is trapped inside your walls or under your carpet, molds may grow there, although they can't always be seen. See if your walls or rugs have light stains or a strong musty smell.
  • for mold in your basement, especially if your basement floods because of rain. Moisture can also seep through your home's concrete foundation and make the bottom of carpets or the inside of a finished wall moldy.
  • for water damage around your windows or doors to the outside of the house. In winter, moist air can change to water on these cooler surfaces and cause molds to grow there.
  • for mold on walls, ceilings, floors, carpets, books, or piles of newspapers. Smell these areas too; sometimes a musty smell is your only clue that you have a mold problem.

How do I get rid of a mold problem?

When molds get inside materials like carpets and mattresses, they cannot be cleaned. Throw them away. But you can get rid of molds in bedding, curtains, drapes and clothes by washing or dry cleaning them. Some non-porous materials can be cleaned.
Use protective equipment when working around mold. The following equipment can help minimize exposure to mold:
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye goggles
  • Outer clothing (long sleeves and long pants) that can be easily removed in the work area and laundered or discarded
  • Use an N-95 respirator (these can be found at hardware stores or other large stores that sell home repair supplies)
Clean Surfaces - scrub all moldy surfaces using a stiff brush, hot water and a soap or detergent that does NOT contain ammonia. Collect used liquid with a wet/dry vacuum, mop or sponge. Rinse area clean with clean water and dry thoroughly.
Disinfect Surfaces - (if desired) after cleaning the affected area as described above, wipe down the wall, ceiling, or floor again using a mixture of liquid household chlorine bleach and water. If you are cleaning a small area, use 5 cups of water mixed with 1/2 cup bleach. If you are cleaning a large area, use a 5-gallon pail of water and add 1/2 gallon of bleach to it. Be sure to open windows when you use bleach, so you have fresh air to breathe and the bleach does not irritate your lungs. Always handle bleach with caution. Also be sure to follow all the directions and warnings on the bleach label. Thoroughly dry the area as quickly as possible.
NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA

How can I keep mold from growing in my home?


dehumidifierhouse diagram
Moisture from room air condenses on the coil and drips into the water bucket or through a hose into a nearby drain.Bath fans, kitchen fans and clothes dryer fans vent moist air to the outside of the home. Window fans will also move moist air out of the home.

Keep your home as dry as possible. Repair roof and plumbing leaks right away. Make sure that the ground around the foundation of your house slopes away from the house, so that your basement is less likely to flood.
If your home has kitchen, bathroom, or window fans that vent (send) the moist air outside, use them when you cook or take a shower. If you do not have fans, open a window when you cook or shower, cover pots when cooking, and try to take cool, short showers. Dry clothing on a clothesline outside or use a clothes dryer that vents (sends) air outdoors.
If your basement is damp, get a dehumidifier (note: this is the opposite of a humidifier, which adds air moisture) to remove moisture from the air. If you have an air conditioner to run in the summer, it will remove some moisture as it cools the air. When you use an air conditioner or dehumidifier, don't keep your windows open if it is damp outside.
Do not finish the walls of your basement with insulation and wallboard unless your basement is very dry. Also avoid putting wall-to-wall carpet on your basement floor. If your basement floor is concrete, you can paint it and use area rugs instead. Then you can take the rugs outside to clean and dry them, and the rugs aren't as likely to get moldy.

Where can I get more information?

drawing of a man and a woman on telephonehttp://www.fema.gov/pdf/rebuild/recover/fema_mold_brochure_english.pdf

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