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Article by Michael A / August 16th, 2019

How Mold and Mildew Can Damage a Home

All year long, Houston has an ideal climate for most people. Though it can get very hot and humid, the temperature stays relatively high, even in the winter months. It’s rare to see a few flakes of snow in the winter, and that means you don’t have to be outside shoveling everything.

But with that nice weather comes a slight problem: rainy, damp seasons. Now a little rain never hurt anyone, but rain and damp conditions are ideal for mold and mildew to start growing on the side of your home, and that can lead to a lot of problems. If mold and mildew are left to grow, they can build up outside, work their way inside and cause massive amounts of damage to your home.

It’s a trade-off in Houston, good weather for mold and mildew build-up, but homeowners do need to be proactive inside and outside their homes to prevent mold and mildew build-up from destroying their homes. Here’s what you need to know — and how regular pressure washing services can help you in your fight against mold and mildew.

Mold on the outside

If you were to take a tour of your own property, then you’d probably spot signs of mold and mildew all over your yard. Mold and mildew are everywhere in nature, and you might spot them on trees and other surfaces. 

Mold isn’t a plant. It’s actually a fungi, and it likes to grow in damp, dimly lit areas. That’s why you’ll usually see it outside in shady spots. Most people notice black or green spots of mold growing around their gardens in damp places like near a pool or fountain, and it can feel either fuzzy — or slimy! Mold spores work to break down matter and feed off it, and it also releases tiny spores into the air. This isn’t such a big deal outside where there’s plenty of space, but we’ll talk later about mold spores inside the house.

Mildew may also be growing around the outside of your home. Like mold, mildew likes damp, shady spaces, but it usually finds a surface and grows on it. Mildew has a white or gray appearance, and it hangs out on just the surface, unlike mold which will break down matter.

Now if you see mold or mildew around your garden, don’t panic. Both of these fungi are needed to break down materials that are dead or decaying around your yard, and they’re needed to keep your garden healthy. But there are places where mold and mildew growing can be a problem outside:

  • On the siding of your home: Siding does a great job of standing up to the outside elements, but if there’s a crack in your siding, then water can get trapped inside. When there are damp conditions, mold and mildew will almost certainly grow.
  • On your wooden deck or patio: Mold loves wood, and it can hold moisture well if it has a lot of holes in it. It’s more common to see mold on the legs of a wooden deck near the ground where it’s not as sunny. Mold likes the dampness from the ground and shade from the rest of the deck above it.
  • Near your rain gutters: If your gutters are clogged, water can get trapped and eventually overflow onto your home, creating damp spots on the wood framing of your home. Mold will start growing on the framing, and it may make its way into your attic.
  • In cracks in your driveway or sidewalk: You won’t often find mold or mildew growing on your driveway because driveway conditions usually don’t meet mold’s shady requirement. But if you have trees and bushes growing around the concrete casting a shadow, then the conditions might be better for mold to grow.

If mold or mildew is growing in any of these places outside of your home, then it is important that you keep an eye on it and remove it as soon as possible. If left on their own, mold and mildew can build up outside and then start looking for ways to move indoors when conditions might be even better.

Mold makes its way inside

It doesn’t take much for mold or mildew to start growing inside a home, and mold doesn’t need much of an invitation to start growing inside. Unlike mice and other pests that need an entry point into your home, mold and mildew can start growing if conditions are right in your home.

More than anything, mold needs dampness indoors and it can find it in different places. The bathroom is probably the most common because it’s usually the dampest room in the home. All of your bathrooms should be well-ventilated, and you should be looking for spots where mold and build up and cause damage. Make sure you have the exhaust fan running when taking a shower or open a window to let the warm air flow out.

You can also find mold and mildew at the bottom and tops of your home. Basements, crawlspaces and attics are usually cool and somewhat damp, and there’s a lot of wood and drywall for mold to break down. Remember all that water clogged in your gutters? If there’s a crack or hole or any sort of way for the moisture to get into your attic, then it might begin to grow inside. Since you probably don’t go into your attic all that often, mold can grow without you knowing it.

Basements and crawl spaces attract moisture because they’re on the lowest levels, so gravity naturally sends water down there. They’re also cool and damp, seeing as they’re partially underground. If you have a leak somewhere in your home, it might makes its way down to your basement.

You can also find mold growing anywhere that there might be a leak in your pipes. That can include under your bathroom or kitchen sink, in the walls where the pipes are or near your shower or windows in your shower. A leak in a home will cause dampness, and almost assuredly, mold will begin to grow.

Just as it is outside, mold inside can look patchy and usually appears to be green or black. You can usually find patches of it near the damp area, and it will either be slimy or fuzzy depending on the mold. If left untreated, mold can spread around a damp area, and if it gets to wood, the mold will start to rot through the wood.

In a basement or crawl space, that’s an extremely dangerous — and highly expensive — problem to have. Because most, if not all, of your home’s framing is made of wood, it is at risk for rot if conditions are right. Those conditions are:

  • Moisture
  • Food
  • Temperatures over 40 degrees

If the frame of your house is rotting, then it will have to be replaced, and that will not be inexpensive. Imagine for just a minute how a carpenter would have to get under your home with the necessary replacements and tools and then redo the framing while navigating around all the plumbing and wiring that’s down there as well.

That may sound like an unlikely scenario — surely someone would catch it before the rot gets to be that bad — but it does happen, and in areas like Houston where humidity is high, there’s a lot of moisture that can eventually cause rot.

Health problems related to mold

As mentioned, mold outside of the home isn’t a big deal when it comes to your health. Although mold will be letting out spores, the open air means it’s unlikely that you, your family members or pets will breathe in a significant amount of it. But inside where there’s not as much air flow and the spaces are smaller, families can breathe in mold and it can cause health problems.

Because you are breathing in mold spores, your respiratory system is most at risk. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose: You will find yourself reaching for the tissue box even though you know you don’t have a cold.
  • Itchy, watery eyes: Your eyes may turn red from all the rubbing and scratching.
  • Coughing and wheezing: Mold, once inhaled, will aggravate your lungs, causing you to cough and have a shortness of breath.
  • Dry skin and throat: Your skin may feel itchy and look red, and you may find yourself constantly drinking water to soothe a dry throat.
  • Nosebleeds: Because mold can dry up your skin and throat, it will likely cause your nose to bleed as well.

These symptoms are pretty common for short-term mold exposure. If everyone in your home is experiencing similar symptoms, it’s likely mold exposure, not a cold or flu. To be safe though, see a doctor and ensure your family is otherwise healthy.

The longer you are exposed to mold, the worse your symptoms will become. Prolonged exposure to mold can cause:

  • Difficulty breathing: You may find yourself winded after walking up the stairs or around your yard. Mold can make it difficult for you to breathe easily.
  • Persistent coughing: Can’t shake a cough? Mold may be causing it to stick around longer.
  • General fatigue: Everyone’s a little tired, but if you find yourself suddenly too tired to do things you once loved, it could be the mold’s effect on you.
  • Headaches: Persistent headaches are common among those who have mold growing in their homes.

All of these symptoms are also symptoms of other common ailments, so make sure you see a doctor to rule out other illnesses such as the flu. In extreme cases where people are exposed to mold for even longer periods of time, serious symptoms and illnesses can occur. Some experience memory loss or numbness in their hands and feet. Others have trouble concentrating or become sensitive to light. Those with allergies, especially to mold, weakened immune systems and asthma have higher risks for developing symptoms.

If you and your family are breathing in mold for a short amount of time, you likely won’t suffer any lasting damage. However, prolonged exposure can make you very sick and cause damage to your body. The less exposure you have to mold in your home, the better.

When to call an expert in pressure washing services

Mold and mildew are natural parts of life, and try as you might, you’ll never be able to get rid of all of it forever. That being said, there is one important thing you can do to prevent mold and mildew build-up outside of your home: clean your home with regular pressure washing services.

Sometimes you can handle a mold problem all on your own, but when it becomes too much, then it’s time to call in an expert in pressure washing services. Pressure washing services can blast away mold and mildew building up on your house deck or driveway, and an expert can help you identify where mold and mildew may become a problem in the long run.

If you notice a lot of mold building up on your siding or deck, then it’s time for an expert in pressure washing services to take a look. When left alone, mold can cause serious damage to the outside of your home, so it’s important that pressure washing services remove that build-up.

Overtime, mold can build up and cause the wood on your deck to start rotting. When that happens, it will likely be too late for pressure washing services. You’ll need to replace the whole deck, and that can be expensive. But if you schedule pressure washing services ahead of time, then you can get rid of the mold before it becomes a problem.

Tell us: How do you keep mold or mildew from building up around the outside of your home? Have you used pressure washing services to keep the mold at bay? Share with us in the comments and let us know how pressure washing services can keep your home looking bright and clean.

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