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protecting your home from mold

Like all fungi, mold plays a necessary role in nature. It's when it enters your home that it becomes a problem. An infestation can affect your health and ruin furniture, floors, and sentimental household items. In the most extreme cases, mold can even ruin the home itself.

Mold can grow just about anywhere so long as it has moisture for its offspring, the spores, to grow. It can be found on windowsills, in house dust, and hidden behind the walls. Homeowners and renters alike need to be on the lookout — using not just their eyes, but their noses as well (an earthy odor may be an indicator).

Here are some important tips for dealing with mold.

Be proactive

It's impossible to get rid of mold completely, but cleaning and vacuuming your home regularly is the first step in preventing the problem.

Mold thrives on moisture and warmth. So don't forget to clean the refrigerator drip pan and outdoor gutters and downspouts.

Give it immediate attention

If you suspect mold, it's important to address the issue right away. For an area of more than 10 square feet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a contractor or other professional service provider. Just be sure they have experience and solid references.

Address the real problem

A mold infestation may be a sign of a bigger problem, like a water leak. And if you don't fix the underlying issue, the mold will continue to return. If you do experience a recurrence, call in a professional to diagnose and fix the source of the moisture.

Don't just paint over it

Mold needs to be cleaned before wet paint is applied. If it's not, the paint will likely peel off, revealing the happily growing mold beneath.

Know when not to turn your HVAC system on

Mold can grow on anything, including the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system (HVAC). If you suspect there's mold lurking, don't turn the system on until you address the problem, or you could end up with more mold in other places. Also, check out the EPA's guide, "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?" for more information.

Treat your precious items delicately

If you find mold on one of your sentimental items, it may be in your best interest to have a restoration or cleaning specialist treat it to avoid ruining the item. Particularly absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, are particularly susceptible and may not always be reparable.

Dress for the occasion

The EPA recommends that you wear gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator to clean mold. However, if you believe the mold is affecting your health, consult a medical professional first. Mold produces allergens, irritants, and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances, so it's important to put your safety first.

If you're looking for other ways to protect your home, get a free homeowners insurance quote today.