Attics and upstairs storage areas are increasingly prone to mold problems. Especially in older homes or homes that have recently suffered roof damage from a strong storm. The hot humid air that is typical in attics in the warmer months of the year and the presence of porous materials like wood, insulation, and cardboard boxes can be all too inviting for mold spores.
Compounding this problem is that attics are seldom used spaces. So, once a mold colony gets started it can often populate the attic space unchecked for months without notice.
Can Attic Mold Be A Health Hazard?
Awareness of mold-related illnesses and respiratory conditions associated with indoor mold air pollution has continued to grow. Research has found that spores from so-called “Toxic Black Mold” can cause severe health problems including inflammation conditions, respiratory distress, and complicate symptoms of other health conditions.
Though even a seemingly more benign strain of mold in your attic can be troublesome. Not only can the spores and airborne mycotoxins cause respiratory distress in people with respiratory health problems and allergies, but they can also cause headaches. Left unchecked even a benign strain of mold that establishes a large colony can cause damage to crucial structural components in your home’s attic.
How Do I Know If There Is Mold In My Attic?
Mold has some telltale signs as well as some not-so-obvious clues. Mold can even take on different colors, and isn’t always the signature fuzzy black stuff so many people think of when they hear the term “Indoor mold problem.” The following are some signs of a potential mold problem in your attic.
Black, green, gray, brown, and white splotches, patches, or circles on porous surfaces are often an indicator of mold.
Earthy Or Musty Odors
Mold spores in humid air often give off a musty or earth odor. Especially when the air is first disturbed.
Caused by roof damage or failing gutters things like wet wood and insulation can very easily harbor a mold colony.
Changes In Respiratory Health
Mold spores in the air tend to affect people with respiratory health conditions first. This could manifest as headaches, sneezing, wheezing, and increased asthma attacks. Symptoms might stop when you go on vacation or leave for a long weekend, only to come back when you return home.
What Causes Mold In An Attic?
Mold spores need moisture and warmth to germinate into a serious and self-perpetuating mold colony. Though this can come from many different sources.
Is one of the most common causes of mold in an attic or anywhere else in a home for that matter. What that invades your attic from something like damaged shingles, ice dams or compromised gutters can give mold spores the moisture they need to propagate into a severe mold colony.
This can also be a common culprit promoting attic mold. When air from the interior of the house isn’t vented properly during the warm months of the year the humidity that builds up in the attic can saturate porous materials making them a prime breeding ground for mold colonies to develop.
Problems With Bathroom & Kitchen Vents Or Fans
Both bathrooms and kitchens are areas prone to humidity problems. Cooking and bathing tend to release a lot of steam or humidity into the air. If it’s not properly vented away from the room, humidity can condense and gradually come to saturate woodwork as well as other porous materials. Sometimes it might be that the bathroom and kitchen vent is in good working order but not being used properly.
Some homes have HVAC components and vents running through the attic and ceiling crawl spaces. Humidity and condensation that builds up on these surfaces can eventually transfer to the surrounding soft materials like wood and fiberglass insulation where mold spores can set up a colony. This is even more likely to be an issue in the summer months if you have a central air conditioner unit that is underpowered, overtaxed, or poorly maintained.
Can I Remove Mold From My Attic Myself?
More than one do-it-yourselfer has tried to handle their own attic mold remediation. While some have come close to effectively eliminating mold from their attic, most lack the training, tools, and professional-grade equipment to completely remove a serious mold infestation from their attic.
Worse still, most do-it-yourself mold remediation attempts end up disturbing active colonies in the attic. This causes them to release an abundance of mold spores into the air, to land and populate multiple mold colonies in other parts of the house.
Ultimately, it’s best to have a serious attic mold problem professionally remediated. This way you know that industry-best practices were used to eliminate the mold presence as well as remove any severely compromised materials. A mold remediation specialist also has the skills, experience, and highly trained eye to identify the underlying cause of your attic mold problem, and can advise you on what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.
How Do I Prevent A Mold Problem In My Attic?
Most effective mold remediation strategies have multiple phases. Right off the bat, you need to identify and repair any issues that allowed the mold problem to develop in the first place. This might include things like repairing roof leaks and replacing gutters to updating your HVAC system or upgrading your vents. Even something as simple as encouraging your children to always use the bathroom vent fan can be a significant help.
If humidity was a contributing factor to your attic mold problem, you might want to think about strategically using a dehumidifier. You can place it in the attic during the summer months to collect humidity and condense it before it has a chance to saturate the surrounding soft surfaces.
If you opted for professional mold remediation, the technicians can help advise you of other steps you can take to prevent future mold problems in your attic. In some cases, special preventive solutions can be applied to help retard mold spores from developing into a future mold colony.