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Worried about mold in your home? Here’s how to stop it

(Public Domain Photo)

One of the big problems in cleaning up hard-hit areas damaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria this fall will be fighting mold inside flooded buildings.

In some areas, every bit of wet drywall has to be pulled out of houses and replaced. Building studs that remain have to be sprayed with mold-killing compounds.

In Arizona, homeowners often think there’s no possibility of having mold problems because of the dry desert. But if you have some serious leaks or even a little flooding and fail to clean it up properly, mold can start growing on wood, fabrics, paper or dry wall.

Here are places to check for water damage or leaks that might create mold situations:

  • The cabinets and walls under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • In rooms you don’t use often and where you have shut off the air conditioning and other sources of ventilation.
  • In the drain-line drip pan on your air conditioning system.
  • Around your washing machine and dryer and dishwasher. Mold and mildew can breed in any machine that uses or that is regularly exposed to water.
  • Your attic, where leaks from the roof have been neglected because you rarely visit that area.
  • Throughout homes that are closed during summer months and where ceiling and wall leaks have been neglected for some time.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, homeowners can clean up a mold damaged area themselves, provided that the problem covers less than about 10 square feet.

For bigger areas, you may need to hire a restoration expert. If you suspect that the heating and air conditioning system was contaminated, you also want a professional cleaning done so that the HVAC ducts do not spread the mold around your home.

If sewage was the cause of your water or mold damage, you definitely want an expert to take over.

Before cleaning up any area, start out by repairing any leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. You don’t want the water intrusion to keep going.

For a relatively small problem, wipe or scrub the affected areas with water mixed with one of several possible cleaning materials: bleach, vinegar, baking soda or borax, for example. Wipe away or vacuum up any loose debris.

You want to wipe off the excess cleaning material and allow the area to air-dry.

For this cleaning, wear long rubber gloves. To work with harsh chemicals, you also want to wear goggles. Avoid touching moldy areas with your bare hands.

Do not paint over moldy patches instead of cleaning them up. Throw away any contaminated tiles or carpets that have grown moldy.

Home testing kits for mold are sold online that might be good to use at first to see if you really have a problem. But if you do a complete cleaning and see evidence of mold returning, you might want to hire a professional.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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