Well, another tough week has come and gone: work (the boss never stops calling!), kids were on school break, equal time spent with in-laws and parents.
Gosh, all you and the missus are waiting for is a great Shabbos and – yes!! It’s a legal holiday at last! You don’t even mind the last-minute Shabbos preparations. The whole family around the Shabbos table, the freshly-baked challah, soup…it’s nirvana. A great dessert, with a hot herbal tea and some lively conversation.
The kids start complaining about how “tough” it is to get to school, yeshivah.
Mendel (no offense to Mendels): Can you believe that the Uber was five minutes late, and I didn’t have time to hit Starbucks before class?!
Chaya (same deal as Mendel): Oh really?! Well, you poor desperate child, it was raining and my wind-proof, rain-proof umbrella didn’t catch all the rain and the heels of my shoes got wet!
Mommy (there is only one Mommy): Wet heels!? Seriously, your school is down the block! Why, when I was your age… (eyes rolling… here it comes), growing up, I was lucky if the subways were running, and I had shoes!
Zaidy (yup, same deal as Mommy): I’ll do you one better! I walked in a roaring blizzard to cheder, with no shoes, on my hands, both ways, all uphill (now Mendel is thinking, huh, doing geometry in his head).
All this talk about rain and snow and wind was distracting, and your eyes are focusing on the corner of your ceiling. Your eyes wander the clean painted ceiling, until - what is that spot?! We painted the walls a beautiful blue and I’m seeing little black dots with a shade of pink, and even green.
“Ohhh, I know,” you think. “It’s all that wine, I’m seeing things.”
While everyone is one-upping each other’s transportation travails, you walk over to the kaleidoscope of colors and realize that something is growing over the paint! Now the conversation turns to, what is that growing on the walls?!
Well readers, the four-letter word is mold! Or better stated, suspicion of mold. Not all mold is dangerous. All mold is a fungus, but not all fungus is mold. There are many types of molds (possibly thousands), and only a chosen few are concerning. Molds can contribute to various health issues, but for purposes of this article I will focus on how it is detrimental to a home and its infrastructure.
For mold to be able to grow, it needs moisture and a substrate. This can include wallboard, wood, and even inorganic materials (like glass, metal, or plastic). Combine with that a warm room temperature, and the requirement for mold is complete.
Though cold surfaces can somewhat retard the growth, mold can still sprout quickly under such conditions - not in weeks, or days, but hours (think mushrooms). If it is left unchecked, house support structures will start to wear away. Please keep in mind that while we generally see mold inside, it is just as prevalent on the outside of the home - on concrete, roofing, and siding materials.
My somewhat-strong warning isn’t to scare the homeowner, but to educate. While mold is inevitable in all structures, here are a few suggestions to help slow it down:
- Puddles around windows, doors, radiators, and HVAC systems should be attended to immediately.
- Leaders and gutters should be regularly cleaned, and rainwater should be kept away from the home.
- Bushes and vegetation should be at least a foot away from your windows.
- When painting, an anti-mold chemical (in a powder form) can be added to the paint. It doesn’t affect the paint or the color but will form a barrier between the walls and the paint.
- Bathrooms should be well ventilated. Make sure any exhaust fans are clean and have good suction.
Remember: Mold only needs a little dust to start growing! Many home inspectors are trained in mold detection and can alert you and advise you on best steps to be taken to correct a mold infestation.
If you suspect that you have a more aggressive case, contact a licensed professional. They will test the air and surface, and if mold is identified, they will eliminate it.