Out of sight and out of mind, mold in the attic may sound like a minor issue. If your attic is a place you rarely visit, what harm is it going to do up there anyway, right? Well, as it turns out, mold in your attic is not a good thing at all. In this article, we will look deeper into this subject and answer the question: “Is mold in the attic dangerous?”
Health Issues Related To Mold In Attic
Mold is responsible for a variety of health issues. It is a substance that causes allergic reactions, itchy, watery eyes, respiratory illness and infection, a weakened immune system, and much more.
It is interesting to note that 10-percent of the American population is allergic to mold. What makes this stat even more interesting is that many people are allergic to mold and do not know they are. To compound matters even more, those people with mold allergies do not always know which type of mold they are allergic to.
But If The Mold Is In The Attic…
Even though the mold in your attic is confined to one space, this doesn’t mean it will just stay there. Mold can grow and as it grows, it spreads. With this movement of mold, it can go through a wall by traveling along small openings in your home. It can move from the attic down to the kitchen, bedroom, or living room. If someone in your family has developed a respiratory issue, check your attic for mold.
Because the attic is somewhere that is often not visited as frequently, mold can go unnoticed for a long time. If you visit the attic and notice a musty smell, you may just associate that with the attic being locked up for a long time. However, if this smell is due to mold, it could be gradually spreading throughout all corners of your attic and into other parts of your home.
If you do notice white or black mold in the attic, it is best to treat it as soon as possible. Putting off treating mold and fixing the cause, and leaving it until it has spread even further throughout your house, can result in health issues to family members and end up costing a lot more to resolve.
The Different Types of Mold
White mold is the name given to several species of mold that may have a white appearance. The most common white molds are Cladosporium, penicillium, and aspergillus. These molds may also appear in shades of green, grey, black, or other colors. The color of white mold is often determined by the color of the surface it is growing on.
Is White Mold In Attic Dangerous?
Yes, any mold you find in your attic has the potential to become dangerous to both the structure of your home and the health of those living in your home.
Could It Be Mildew?
White mold and mildew are easily confused by many people. That is because mildew often has a white appearance. It is important to remember that mildew does not normally grow on surfaces. White mold, on the other hand, grows in such a manner that it will penetrate porous materials and ruin them. Wood and drywall are two common places white mold can be found.
How To Identify White Mold
The water test is the most reliable method used to identify white mold. You will need a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the area of infection and if any of it dissolves, what you have is salt and not mold. If the substance you spray remains affixed to the surface you are testing, then it is very likely white mold.
How To Remove White Mold (From Wood Surfaces)
- wear protective gear including safety goggles, long-sleeved shirt, mask, and rubber gloves
- open windows and doors for ventilation
- vacuum the area to remove loose mold spores
- wash the molded area with a soapy water using a soft-bristled brush to scrub with
- an alternative to soapy water is a baking soda mixture in water
- another alternative is using distilled vinegar applied to the affected surface undiluted
- chlorine bleach mixed with warm water is another effective cleaning solution option
- after you have washed away the mold, sand the area, repaint or reseal if required
The most common of the black molds is Stachybotrys chartarum. It grows on wood, cotton, and paper products and can be a greenish color. Mold on wood is caused by many different factors including:
- High humidity of 70% or greater
- A food source
- Access to oxygen
- Warm temperatures between 40 and 100F
Black mold can grow in almost any location in your home but the conditions must be right for this to happen. The following conditions may point to potential mold growth:
- Damp rooms with limited ventilation like a bathroom
- High humidity basements
- Any location where a water leak has occurred
- Any location that experiences water condensation issues
- Any location that has been flooded
Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure
Exposure to any kind of mold should be avoided, however, prolonged exposure to black mold may result in several different symptoms. They include:
- Dry, scaly skin
- Coughing or sneezing
- Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
- Nasal congestion or postnasal drip
For individuals who suffer from asthma, mold exposure may result in an attack that will be easy to identify with these symptoms:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath, trouble breathing
How To Prevent Mold Development
As the conditions have to be right for mold to develop and spread, the easy way to prevent this from happening is to ensure the conditions required are not met. There are several ways to do this including:
- Repairing water leaks anywhere in your home, including your roof and attic, as soon as they occur
- Have ventilation fans installed in both your kitchen and bathroom. Use them when needed to remove excess moisture.
- Keep your home living area and attic clean, dry, and with proper air circulation and venting.
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity inside your home below 50%.
- Dry wet floor mats as soon as possible.
- Do not use carpeting in rooms that may get wet such as in the kitchen, bathroom, and basement.
Black Mold – How To Remove It
You are going to eventually have to remove the mold developing in your home. Leaving it be will only allow it to spread further and cause issues with the health of your family. However, you can’t just spray black mold and wipe it away. There is a process that must be followed for safe and secure removal. Here is how you do that.
- Put up plastic sheeting to isolate the part of your home you are cleaning.
- Scrub surfaces with a mixture of water and detergent. Allow drying completely.
- Wear rubber gloves, boots, and goggles when cleaning.
- Place any items with mold in plastic garbage bags for disposal.
- Go over the surfaces already cleaned with a bleach/water mixture.
- Open windows and doors to permit ventilation when using bleach.
- Let all surfaces dry thoroughly.
Yes, mold in the attic is dangerous and should be carefully removed as soon as it is properly identified. The easiest way to stop the mold from growing and spreading is to remove the source of moisture that has been feeding it. Then you can proceed with the cleanup process.
Because the attic is not visited as often, and is likely locked up with poor ventilation, mold in the attic can be left unnoticed or the smell from mold may be attributed to just being stale air from being closed off for a long time. It is for these reasons that mold can spread throughout the attic resulting in serious health and structural issues for those living there.
Mold is both bad for the wood in your home and the health of everyone living there. By taking good care of the conditions within your home, you should be able to prevent mold from developing and becoming a problem.