Climbing into your attic is not something that people generally enjoy doing. Your attic is likely a hot, stuffy place filled with itchy insulation and maybe even a spider or two. This experience gets a whole lot worse when the smell or staining associated with mold greets you as you enter your attic space. You may see black attic sheathing or white spots all over. Since most people only access their attics 2 or three times a year, mold can go unseen for months, taking hold quickly and becoming costly endeavor to repair and causing significant damage to your home over time.
Mold In Attics and 3 Prevention Tactics
Since people spend so little time in their attic (understandably so) its very easy for problems to go unnoticed. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the purpose and functions of attics, and what is needed to keep them in good functioning order. Hopefully this article will help address some of these issues.
Keep Your Attic Free Of Clutter
Many people utilize the attic as additional storage space. Christmas trees, old family heirlooms and the ancient suitcases from Grandma seem to find their way into this forgotten abyss. Even worse, cardboard boxes from failed garage sales, saved for next year collect dust in the space above our home. Storing contents in the attic can be problematic. These items can collect dust and moisture, becoming excellent food sources and growing spaces for mold. Attic clutter also causes issues by blocking the necessary airflow needed for a well ventilated attic. Prevention tip number one is keep your attic clear of this clutter. Don’t store any items in the attic unless absolutely necessary. Never store items in cardboard in your attic as it will soak up excess moisture and surely become a moldy mess. Instead, use rubber or plastic totes that wont allow moisture penetration. If you have to utilize this space, make sure to keep items in the center of the attic to allow airflow along the eves and out the ridge vent. Keep the contents low to the insulation to allow cross flow of air between the gable vents. Remember, your attic space is open to outside air, so the temperature and humidity levels fluctuate much more than your home. Excellent ventilation and airflow is imperative to deter mold from settling and taking root so your best bet is to store your belongings elsewhere.
Improve Inadequate Ventilation
More often than not, attics have soffit vents paired with a ridge vent, or gable vents on either side to allow outside air to flow freely through the area. Soffit vents are perforated sections toward the bottom of the eves in your attic. These air holes allow fresh outside air to flow in, up and out through the attic ridge vent (slim slit through the highest part of your attic). Gable vents are generally small window size sections that are open at either end of your attic and allow a cross breeze to flow fresh air throughout the open room. In many cases, even with the proper ventilation installed, home owners or contractors block the ventilation in the name of energy savings or simply lack of understanding. A common ventilation issue occurs when soffit vents become blocked with insulation, blocking any air from flowing into the attic. This can be prevented with the installation of baffles, inexpensive plastic or foam forms that maintain a space between the sheathing and your soffit. Gable vents become blocked by nests or even homeowners purposefully trying to block airflow from the house to save on energy costs. With regular maintenance and knowing what to look for, these vents can allow plenty of airflow to aid in mold prevention. Rule of thumb is keep all ventilation open and clear in your attic no matter what!
Bathroom Vents Do Not Belong
As a Mold Remediator in Western Pennsylvania, I cannot tell you how many times I see improperly vented bathroom fans. Contrary to popular belief, bathroom vents are not only to provide relief from unpleasant bathroom odors. The vents in your bathroom play a vital role in dealing with the moisture and humidity caused by baths, sinks, showers and toilets in bathrooms. Unfortunately, because of improper building codes of old, laziness and again, lack of knowledge, many of these vents are simply installed and forgotten about. This means all the moisture and steam you see on the mirror after a hot shower is being blown right into the attic. Remember, mold is the symptom, moisture is the problem. No matter how much you ventilate the attic, if you consistently add new moisture to this air, you absolutely will have a mold problem over time. The good news is this contracting faux pas is easily and inexpensively rectified. Most handy men can and will run a vent hose from your bathroom vent out the roof to prevent this major mold causing oversight.
It’s Too Late – I HAVE MOLD!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and yet, sometimes we need that cure. If you venture into your attic and are nervous about what you see, call a qualified trusted professional to give you an opinion about what needs done. No matter what, DO NOT grab the gallon of bleach and start wiping. This may make the problem look better, but it will only make your mold growth worse. Remember, mold can be scary but it is a solvable problem given the right techniques. Never be scared to consult a pro in your time of need. In short, spend an extra trip into your attic and check these simple issues. The investment of your time could save your wallet a big hit in the long run and make your family healthier to boot!