Mold Allergy Checklist

If you’ve got an allergy to mold, take action to keep it from growing out of control in your home. The key to success is keeping things clean and dry. Put this checklist on your fridge to remind yourself of the steps you should take.  Here are some suggestions that can help you to prevent allergies from flaring up:

  1. Clean weekly. Disinfect where mold grows — in trash cans, sinks, and bathrooms.
  2. Look for leaks. Check your roof and pipes beneath sinks and in the basement.
  3. Dry damp areas quickly. Mold can start to grow in 24 to 48 hours.
  4. Keep indoor humidity 50% or lower. Use a dehumidifier if you need it.
  5. Don’t overwater indoor plants. Damp soil grows mold.
  6. Keep your fridge clean. Watch for signs of trouble in drip trays and on door seals.
  7. Clean mold from your heating or AC ductwork. Hire a professional to do it.
  8. Limit storage in damp basements or garages. Don’t give the fungus a chance to grow.
  9. Remove carpets in damp areas. It can breed mold if you have them in your bathrooms or the basement.
  10. Air out kitchens and bathrooms. Put in exhaust fans to vent moisture.
  11. Move mold away. Keep compost piles, yard clippings, and firewood far from the home.
  12. Make sure gutters are clean. If they’re blocked, this type of fungus can grow.
  13. Check your foundation. The ground should slope away from it. If it doesn’t, water may drain into your basement.
  14. Stock up on allergy medication , if needed. Be ready before symptoms strike.

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Checking For Toilet Leaks

Water leaks account for approximately 12% of all water use in the average American home, and the toilet is one of the most likely places to find them. Sometimes it is easy to tell that your toilet is leaking – you hear the sound of running water or a faint hissing or trickling. But many times, water flows through the tank silently, which is why these leaks are often overlooked.

How to check your toilet for leaks

  1. Remove the toilet tank lid.
  2. Drop one dye tablet or 10 drops of food coloring into the tank. (Dye tablets are often available for free through local water providers).
  3. Put the lid back on. Do not flush.
  4. Wait at least 10-15 minutes, and then look in the bowl. If you see colored water, you have a leak. If not, you don’t.

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Plants That Cause Allergies

Hundreds of species of plants release their pollen into the air every year, causing allergic reactions in many people. But only a relatively small number of plants are responsible for most of the itching, sneezing, and watery eyes associated with hay fever. Certain pollens — such as ragweed — can even survive through the winter and play havoc with immune systems year-round. All of that pollen has created a booming market for antihistamine and decongestant makers, but has left millions of people with allergies begging for relief.

Certain plants are worse than others. Here are the top allergens found in North America:

  • Ragweed: throughout North America
  • Mountain Cedar: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • Ryegrass: throughout North America
  • Maple: throughout North America
  • Elm: throughout most of North America
  • Mulberry: throughout the United States (but rare in Florida and desert regions of the country)
  • Pecan: Southeastern United States
  • Oak: throughout North America
  • Pigweed/tumbleweed: throughout North America
  • Arizona Cypress: Southwestern United States

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Mold Chemicals

There are a slew of chemicals that claim to remove mold, some even say they’ll prevent it from ever growing back again.  Yet, many people do not read the disclaimers to see that they don’t live up to their hype.  But what about the chemicals being used by companies you’re considering to hire for a mold remediation project?  You should always ask to know what products are being used and even ask to be supplied with MSDS sheets if you can not find the appropriate information you’re looking for on the internet.  Chemicals being used by some mold companies can be very harmful and have severe health effects, mainly because they’re cheap and the contractor does not want to spend money on higher priced natural chemicals, or they just don’t know any better.  Methods being used today in the mold remediation business can not only effect you, but also your pets.  The easiest way to think about this is to realize that pets lungs are much smaller than human beings, and hence, harsh smelling chemicals will do more damage when inhaling.  So, prior to hiring any mold remediation contractor, ask for a chemical list and also be sure when they arrive you see these chemicals first hand clearly marked on untouched labels.

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Asthma & Allergies

The symptoms you may feel during an asthma attack are due to the inflammation of the lungs and airways. This inflammation causes the simple act of breathing to become painful. Not only do the airways become tighter and narrower, the walls of those airways release extra mucus, adding additional barriers to breathing. The body responds to this excess mucus by coughing, in attempts to expel it rapidly. Currently, there is no explanation of why asthma occurs or what triggers your lungs to be so sensitive.

Allergy Can Trigger Asthmatic Reactions

There are many irritants that can trigger an asthmatic reaction. These are the most common:

  • Airborne Allergens (pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust)
  • Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Viral infections of the respiratory system
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pollution
  • Strong odors (paint, house cleaners, etc)
  • Exercise (Note: asthmatic people can and should exercise, with care, when they are feeling well. Ask your doctor about exercise and asthma).
  • Drug sensitivity (for example, to aspirin)
  • Stress and emotional anxiety
  • Pollen season (Airborne pollens in the air during periods of high allergy levels can cause an asthmatic reaction)

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Window Well Leaks

Basement window wells that are unprotected or poorly constructed can leak into a basement causing flooding and mold growth.  Windows which are sub-level to the soil on the exterior need to be protected with window well guards or have drainage systems installed.  Windows, like the one shown below, which are above grade but have cracking and are long past their life span, should be replaced.  When water leaks into the basement behind drywall, you can replace the window to stop the water intrusion, but the interior walls will still need to be removed adding to the repair cost.  It is wise to inspect the surrounding areas of your home every month or at least every other month to avoid such damages, and do whatever is needed to prevent an occurrence such as this one show here.

 

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Reducing Indoor Humidity

A water leak or high humidity can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. Depending on the severity, conditions can lead to rot, structural damage, premature paint failure, and a variety of health problems. Water can seep into your house from the outside through a leak in your roof, foundation, or small gaps around windows or doors. Water can also come from inside your house from a leaking water pipe, toilet, shower or bathtub. High indoor humidity caused by normal activities of everyday living such as showering, cooking, and drying clothes, can also be a source of mold, mildew or musty odors. Indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50% are ideal.

  • Do you have a crawlspace under your house? A dirt floor in a crawlspace should be covered with plastic (vapor barrier) to prevent moisture from the soil increasing humidity levels in your home. If there is standing water or the soil is wet, dry it out with fans before covering the floor.
  • Use ventilation fans in kitchens and baths to control moisture. Check to make sure ventilation fans venting directly outside. In some cases the vent fan may have been installed to vent into the attic or become disconnected or blocked.
  • Your clothes dryer should be vented directly to the outside. Inspect the vent duct. Make sure it is attached securely to the dryer. Check that it is clear of obstructions (e.g. lint). Check for holes that leak air. If vent duct is damaged replace it with a metal duct. The vent duct should be cleaned at least once a year. The Consumer Products Safety Commission additional safety tips for dryer vents
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Ask a heating and cooling contractor to check your heating and cooling system to make sure it is sized and operating properly to remove humidity. If you system is too big or the airflow incorrect your air conditioner will not remove humidity like it should. Also, ask the contractor to check your duct system for air leaks, and proper size and air flow to each room.
  • Sealing air leaks (Home Sealing) and sealing duct air leaks can help to prevent high humidity levels in your home.

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