What Causes Attic Mold?
In scary movies, the attic is usually depicted as the place where monsters and ghosts like to hide. In real life however, this is a place where real danger thrives and lives. Mold in attic poses a real health risk since it causes a variety of throat and lung infections.
Common types of attic mold
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The everyday environment we live in is full of mold. Most of the times, the growth of mold goes unnoticed until it causes a problem. Here are some of the common mold type you may come across in your attic include:
- White mold
- Blue-green mold
- Yellow mold
- Brown mold
- Black mold
While you may encounter any of the aforementioned types of mold, the two most commonly seen attic mold remain black and white mold.
White attic mold
While white attic mold can be a tad bit hard to differentiate from efflorescence, it is among the two most common types of attic mold. Efflorescence on the other hand, is a common, mostly cosmetic build-up of salt deposits caused as a result of water seepage.
If you want to differentiate the two you need to inspect the type of material you see on the build-up on. If it is on masonry of concrete then it is most likely to be efflorescence but if you see a similar looking pattern on a dry wall or wood then it is most likely to be white attic mold.
Much like its counterpart the black attic mold, this type of mold is also associated with some minor health issues including the following:
- Skin or eye irritation
- Allergy-like symptoms
If you come across white attic mold it is paramount that you get it removed. However, you should be rest assured that will not suffer from any lingering effects once the mold problem is dealt with.
Suggested read: Choosing the best mold test kit for your home
Black attic mold
This type of mold is linked to a variety of allergy symptoms. Black attic mold usually occurs in places where where there has been excessive moisture build up without proper ventilation. While it is not truly “toxic” it still causes poor indoor quality which may result in the following:
- Eye irritation
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms
- Nasal congestion
If you have allergies, you are immuno-suppressed or have a lung disease then you will be more sensitive to these symptoms and even more susceptible to fungal lung infections. You don’t need to vacate your premises just because you have spotted black attic mold. Just get rid of it as soon as possible and seek professional advice if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
Is attic mold dangerous?
Since most homeowners rarely access the attic area of their house, it is most likely for attic mold to grow unnoticed. If they do notice, most homeowners ignore it with the assumption that because they spend very little time there they won’t be affected. But, is attic mold dangerous? The answer is yes, the growth of mold in any part of your home should be cause for concern.
If left unchecked mold in the attic can bring down the value of your property thus costing you a lot of money in repairs. In addition to this, mold in your attic is unfortunately a serious hazard that can result to a serious illness or even death. Here are some of the health problems that are caused by mold:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Allergic reactions
- Weekend immune system
- Respiratory illness and infection
- And many more
According to studies done by the Wisconsin Department of Public Health Services, about 10% of the population is allergic to mold. Therefore, the biggest problem with the growth of mold in general is the possibility of experiencing an allergic reaction. To make matters worse, a lot of people don’t know if they are allergic to mold or not, let alone which mold they are allergic to. This makes things more complicated especially for families living in mold-stricken homes.
Similarly, don’t assume you are not allergic to mold or affected by it because you haven’t noticed any serious health effects. Continuous exposure to mold can have some serious repercussions later resulting in severe effects to your health. Therefore, you should always take care of mold as soon as you spot it. Stop it from spreading if you want to limit its impact on your health and of that of your family.
Signs that your home is infested by mold
If you or any member of your family start experiencing the health symptoms mentioned above then there is a reasonable indication that your mold is present in your home. However, it is also tricky to affirm this 100% since most of the symptoms also mimic those of common cold. If multiple people in your home tend to complain of or show the same symptoms but get better once they leave the house then this is reason enough for you to look for mold.
In addition, mold usually has a distinct unique smell that can give you a hint of its existence in particular [arts of your home including the attic. In case there is mold in your attic, you may notice a foul odor coming out of your ventilation system since its ducts open up into the attic. However, the most obvious sign that you have mold in your attic is actually seeing it.
Does attic mold spread into the house?
If you have discovered that mold is growing in your attic, don’t assume you are safe just because it is not growing inside your living room or other parts of the house that you frequently visit. What makes attic more dangerous is the fact that it can quickly spread if you don’t take care of it. Mold spores can easily travel through openings of any size thus making their way from the attic to other parts of your house. Eventually you will find yourself with mold in your living room, bedroom or kitchen. Remember, it is not uncommon for people who live in homes that have excess attic mold growth to suffer from respiratory illness as a result.
Five causes of attic mold
The growth of mold in your attic is almost always caused by some sort of moisture. However, the cause of that moisture may vary. Here are the most common causes of attic mold:
Leaks in the roof
A leaking roof is one of the major causes of mold growth contribution. Don’t just assume that because your house is somewhat new that it can’t have leaks. The truth is that the chances of leaks can increase after your roof is disturbed in any way. Every time it snows or rains, water can accumulate in your attic through the leaks thus degrading the structure of your house resulting to the formation, growth and spread of mold.
Lack of adequate insulation
Warm air in your home can easily rise up from the attic especially if the fixtures on your ceiling are not properly insulated or sealed. This not only leads to sever energy loss but ails moisture problems in your attic. When the warm air rises it meets the attic walls’ cold surface where it condenses and promotes the growth of mold and mildew over time.
Lack of adequate sealing around whole house fans
Since whole house fans are installed in the ceiling the area around the fan ought to be properly sealed to ensure maximum efficiency as well as prevent warm air in the attic from accumulating.
Dryer vents discharging into the attic
There are homes whose dryer vents are installed in a way that they discharge into the attic. Usually, this is not the best idea because the dryer will release all the moisture and hot air into the attic. This can lead to moisture problems very fast as well as promote the growth of attic mold.
Incorrect attic vent types
Always ensure that the type of ventilation in your attic is the correct one in order for air to be efficiently removed from the space. Also make sure that the vents in your attic are all of the same type because having different types of vents can lead to air being trapped in the attic. This is because the less efficient vents are bound to end up taking air inside the attic thus lowering the efficiency of the entire ventilation system and creating suitable environments for mold to grow.
How to remove mold from attic and prevent is from growing back
Mold is a silent foe that could potentially cause major health risks to you and your family. While not all molds are life threateningly dangerous, it doesn’t mean that you should take the discovery of mold in your attic as a light matter. Lucky for you, the removal of attic mold is not rocket science it is also no easy task. Here are steps on how to safely remove mold form your attic.
Suggested read: 7 health benefits of owning an air purifier
Consider your health and safety
Just as in any tough job, the first rule of thumb when removing attic mold is to ensure that you are safe. Ensure that you wear protective clothing. Since attic mold tends to carry allergens that are prone to irritate your skin, nose and eyes, you might want to cover up as much as possible. It is paramount that you cover you head and wear respirator gloves and a mask
However, if you suffer from severe allergies then it is advisable that you hire the services of a professional to take care of the issue.
Inspect your attic then prepare for mold removal
Finding the source of your attic mold is crucial assuming that you want to eliminate the fungus once and for all and make sure it doesn’t grow back and spread to other areas of the house. Here are three things you need to do to ensure this:
Fiberglass is a great food source for attic mold mostly due to kraft-facing or paper backing. This is because paper is a type of wood, which is a main ingredient required for the growth of mold. Ensure that you replace any soiled insulation but be careful when disposing the moldy insulation so that you don’t spread mold spores to the other parts of your house.
Check for any water damage
To grow, mold requires three vital things, oxygen, moisture and nutrients. It is most likely that your attic already has what’s necessary for mold to grow. Ensure that you check for roof damage, leaks and also that your attic is properly ventilated.
Remove wet objects and other obstacles
As most attics are, yours is also most likely used for storage. Most times when there is excessive moisture in your attic, some of these items become target for the growth of mold. If you can give or throw out the things that you don’t need to create more space and better air circulation in the attic. Also thoroughly dry the things from your attic before taking them back and organizing them in a more orderly fashion.
This is the part where you get to slay the beast but it is not as easy as you might think. In fact, many homeowners end up accidentally spreading mold spores by not treating the fungus properly and also rushing the process. Here are treatment steps that ensure you get the job done:
Dry up the attic
Since mold grows where there is moisture, the first step you ought to take before beginning any other treatment is remove the moisture in the air. Use plastic sheeting to seal the windows and vents so as to prevent mold spores from spreading and then use dehumidifiers or fans to dry out the mold completely.
Use natural treatment
If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals in your home then natural attic mold treatment is the ideal choice for you. You can use essential oils such as grapefruit seed oil or tea tree oil which will also leave your home smelling nice. Natural fungicide is also available, all you need to do is spray to the affected area.
You can also use a mixture of water and vinegar or I part hydrogen and 2 parts water to spray on the surface of the mold.
Remove and seal
If you are not dealing with large amounts of attic mold you can remove it with power sanding and wire brushing after treating the affected area. The next step after this is media blasting, this might be a bit expensive and is advisable that you hire a professional for it. The last and crucial part of attic mold removal is applying sealant, this is because it not only prevents future growth but also trap any remaining mold spores.
Attic mold is not only dangerous but can also spread to other parts of your house before you know it. Now that you have all this information, we hope that you are better equipped at dealing with mold in your attic.