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Prevention is key to avoiding mold in the home


Mold isn't just an eyesore, it can also damage the structural integrity of your home and negatively impact your health. A hidden leak or humid basement can quickly become a serious (and seriously expensive) problem.

This week on “Take Care,” Bob Vila discusses how mold is caused and how to prevent it in the home. Vila is the TV-handyman host of “This Old House” on PBS and author of “Bob Vila’s Complete Guide to Remodeling Your Home.”

Mold comes in many variations, but either way its presence is unwelcome.

Vila says mold is something you don’t want in your environment because the health of the family is affected.

“In some cases, varieties of mold are wildly harmful especially to younger children or to older adults,” Vila says.

One way to prevent mold is making sure you live in a dry environment.

“Mold cannot survive without moisture and without organic materials to feed on,” Vila says.

Mold occurs, for example, when drywall becomes damp.

“You do have to be on the lookout for sources of moisture that are easily remedied whether it’s a leaky pipe or water infiltration in the basement, foundation leaks – things like this,” Vila says.

However, it is not sufficient to just remove the humidity, it is important to also remove the mold when it is found. However, how you remove mold is also important.  According to Vila, bleach is not the answer.

“Bleach will not kill mold,” Vila says. “It will just basically clean up the surface and the mold can leave its roots right where it’s growing. You think everything is back to white paint but within a day or two, it might reoccur.”

Mold-removing products can be found in home improvement stores. However, the best way to eliminate mold is by controlling the humidity of your home, Vila says.

Vila recommends buying a hygrometer, which is used to determine the humidity in the home, and placing it around the house – particularly in the basement.

“Basements, especially in old houses, can be sources of enormous amount of moisture coming in through the slab because they were built before we were using plastics or visqueen layers to control that kind of moisture infiltration,” Vila says.

Vila also recommends using plastic containers for storage and keeping an eye on the areas that are more susceptible to moisture like porches, garages and crawlspaces.