During the rainy season in Houston, everyone should first and foremost be concerned for their safety and the safety of their family members. It’s up to residents to make informed decisions about how to safely navigate high flood waters in the city and how to protect their families if an evacuation is necessary.
Of course, Houstonians are also concerned for their neighbors, which is why you’ll see so many stories of brave men and woman who stop to help others affected by floods during hurricanes and tropical storms.
But there’s one other aspect of protection that everyone should be thinking about: their homes. Even if your home never floods — and we at Advantage Pro Services hope if never does — your home can still take damage from the rain when mold and mildew begin to grow inside your home.
Mold and mildew can be two of the most destructive fungi to infiltrate your home, and what they both love more than anything is dampness. After a rainy season blows through Houston, it’s not uncommon to for mold spores to land in damp areas of the home, attach themselves to damp surfaces and begin to grow.
Without proper attention, black mold can grow and take over parts of your home, such as bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces. If left untreated, it can cause numerous health problems for your family, especially if anyone is allergic to mold anyway, and cause expensive damage to your home. So though the rains may have stopped, the damage may be still growing outside your home, slowly working its way inside.
So how does rain cause mold and mildew growth outside the home? We’re here to answer all your questions. Here’s our primer to mold and mildew growth, a few prevention tips and how to know when to call in a specialist for removal.
Mold is everywhere
It’s important to remember that mold, at its core, is not a hazardous material and is far more common than we might otherwise think. Mold spores are constantly floating in the air, and they’re all over our back and front yards. In nature, mold helps to break down dead organic matter, such as trees. In your backyard, mold will work to take down dead organic matter, returning nutrients to the soil and naturally breaking down materials so you don’t have to dispose of them in other ways.
Outside, mold can be a good thing, within reason, and it usually won’t affect you or your family members. That’s because there’s so much open space for mold spores to move, which means it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Mold can still grow on the side of your home or on your deck and fence, all of which can cause problems, but in general, mold in nature is not a problem.
But when the rainy season hits, mold can become a problem both inside and outside. To sum it up, mold needs four factors to grow:
- Humid, moist temperatures
- Access to air
- Food source, such as organic matter
When these four factors combine, they make the perfect space for mold and mildew to grow and thrive.
How rain can affect mold growth outside the home
The relationship between rain and mold is simple: Mold spores attach themselves to damp surfaces. When it rains or even when the air is particularly humid, surfaces outside the home can become damp, allowing for mold spores to latch on and grow. Outside the home, there are five areas you need to be concerned about when it comes to mold growth:
- The side of your home
- The foundation
- Wooden decks
- Wooden fences
You may not know this, but your gutter system was designed to help keep moisture and rainwater at bay around your home. In fact, your gutters help protect both the side of your home and its foundation from mold and mildew. Gutters are especially important if you have a wooden home. Wood is one of mold’s favorite foods, so if you have a lot of it outside your home, you need to be prepared for mold and mildew.
Not only do your gutters move water that runs off your roof so that it can collect in a storm drain, but they also prevent water from building up around the foundation of your home. If water does build up around the foundation, it can seep inside and create ideal places for mold and mildew to grow. Gutters that are broken, pulling away from the home or clogged can let moisture overflow onto the side of your home and down to the foundation.
While mold does love wood, it will also grow on aluminum siding of a home, and if that dampness gets into the foundation of your home and into the basement, then it can start to grow inside. The goal should be to stop it before it gets inside.
Mold can also grow on your wooden deck or fence surrounding your backyard. If left untreated, mold can rot away your deck or fence, which means you’ll have to replace or repair it. Both of these can mean big costs if you’re caught unprepared for them.
How to prevent mold and mildew growth outside
As we mentioned, mold is a natural and needed part of the ecosystem, and there’s no tent that you can put over your entire home to prevent rain from hitting your home, deck and fence. Heavy rains and broken or clogged gutters can cause mold to grow on your home, and it can also grow on damp wooden decks and fences. So how do you mitigate mold damage outside of your home?
Your first priority should be to protect your home. Replacing a fence isn’t cheap, but it’s nothing compared to having a massive black mold infestation removed from a basement. When thinking about mold, it’s important to focus on the problem of moisture, rather than the mold itself. Getting rid of the mold only solves the problem temporarily. If the area is still damp, mold will almost assuredly grow back.
So your first job should be to fix and maintain your gutters. Every autumn when the leaves fall, they can clog your gutters and add too much weight to your gutters, causing them to crack, pull away from your roofline or break. If your gutters are broken, get them repaired immediately.
You should also be scheduling regular gutter cleanings. An expert in gutter cleaning services will come to your home, inspect your gutters and clear out all the debris that is stopping water from running off your roof and into a storm drain. All those leaves, sticks and twigs that fell from the trees can get stuck along your gutter, and if you don’t have a tall enough ladder — or just enough hours in the day — it can be easy for that debris to build up and cause problems.
If you gutters are in good condition and free of clogs but you notice mold growing on the side of your home, then you can take care of it with soft washing services. Like pressure washing services, soft washing uses a blend of chemicals mixed into the water that is sprayed on the side of your home. The pressure isn’t particularly strong, but the chemical mixture will kill the mold and mildew along the side of your home.
Though it may seem counterproductive to introduce more water along the sides of your home, soft washing and clean gutters work as a team. After the soft washing is done and the gutters are repaired and unclogged, you’ll have less moisture dripping down the side of your home and collecting at the base.
You can also turn your soft washing onto your wooden deck or fence. If you use too much water pressure, you could damage your deck or fence, but with a soft wash, you’ll be using the power of the chemical mixture to get rid of mold and mildew, not pressure. This will limit the damage while still getting rid of the mold.
For wooden fences and decks, you have several options to help you protect it:
- Schedule regular soft washing services, as mentioned above.
- Keep your deck and fence clear of leaves and debris. This is what mold feeds off, so if your deck is clean, then mold won’t be able to grow.
- Add a stain to your deck and fence to seal it. This will prevent mold spores from burrowing into the tony cracks and holes in the wood.
We at Advantage Pro Services specialize in gutter cleaning services as well as soft washing services. If you’re concerned about mold on the outside of your home or on your deck or fence, we can help you unclog your gutters and rid your siding, deck and fence of mold and mildew.
How to know when it’s time to call in a specialist
At Advantage Pro Service, we specialize in helping homeowners with preventative measures that will, in the long run, prevent extensive mold and mildew growth even during the rainiest of seasons in Houston. However, even the most careful homeowners may need to call in a specialist to remove mold, especially once it gets into the home.
When black mold is growing outside the home, it is less of a threat because your family members won’t breathe in the spores as often as they would if the mold was inside. But black mold outside usually finds a way into our homes
If you think you have a black mold infestation in your home, your main goal should not be simply removing the black mold. While you definitely want to do that, your bigger priority should be to remove the moisture that’s giving the mold the ability to grow. Remember, mold needs a damp environment to thrive. If you take that away, the mold will not grow. Tackling the source of the dampness rather than just the mold itself will take care of the problem in the long run.
When it comes to calling a specialist, you should consider these experts:
- A mold removal specialist
- A plumber
- A general contractor
A mode removal specialist will help you get rid of the black mold infestation itself. He or she will help you determine the extent of the infestation and what may be causing it. Mold removal specialists usually can’t fix the source of the dampness, but they can at least help you understand where the mold infestation may be growing and why.
A plumber will help you take care of leaks and repairs that need to be made to your pipes. A leaky kitchen or bathroom pipe could be giving mold a nice home under your sink or behind the drywall in your home. A plumber will help you identify the leak and fix it for you. He or she can also point out other potential problems with your plumbing that may contribute to mold growth.
Finally, you may need to call in a general contractor to repair an area of your home (read our guide on choosing a contractor for renovations), after a mold removal specialist has gone through and rid your home of black mold. You may need an expert general contractor to replace the siding, drywall or floors around your home. If overflowing water from broken gutters has damaged the foundation of your home (which can happen if too much water gets into the ground), then you’ll need a general contractor to fix your foundation.
On the whole, mold isn’t necessarily a danger when it is outside of your home. In fact, you need to to break down organic matter in your garden and keep its lifecycle going. However, if you let mold grow on your home, deck or fence unchecked, then it can work its way into your home — and that’s where the real trouble begins.
So share with us: How do you prevent mold and mildew from building up on your home, deck or fence? We want your best tips, so leave us a comment and let us know how our gutter cleaning and soft washing services can help you prevent mold buildup.