Georgia houses weren’t drastically damaged by the recent weeks of rainfall like those in South Carolina, but an overabundance of moisture can cause a sneaky and dangerous aftereffect: mold.
“Heavy rains can produce an explosion of mold. Molds produce spores that spread through the air and form new mold growths or colonies when the conditions are right,” said University of Georgia Cooperative Extension expert Pamela Turner. “Mold is all around us. It can grow on any organic material, as long as there is moisture and oxygen. Molds are types of fungi and all fungi need moisture to live.”
The key to controlling mold and mold spores is to control the moisture and do it quickly, according to Turner. New mold colonies can form in as little as two to three days.
Mold can cause fungal allergy and respiratory infections or worsen certain illnesses like asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Clean any damp or wet materials and furnishings within 24 to 48 hours of the water damage,” Turner said. “Porous materials like carpet, wood and ceiling tiles may need to be discarded. Non-porous materials made from metal, solid wood or plastic can be cleaned with detergent and water and then dried completely.”
To prevent mold from growing in your house in the future, UGA Extension experts suggest following these steps to reduce moisture levels in your house.
1. Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom when you take a shower and leave it on for about 5 minutes after you shower.
2. Turn on the kitchen exhaust fan when you are cooking.
3. Check and repair any leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets as well as other plumbing.
4. Remove at least one-third of the contents of your closets to provide increased airflow and reduce the risk of mold. Install a louvered door on closets or keep closet doors open.
5. Purchase a humidistat to monitor the relative humidity inside your house. (In areas with high humidity, like Georgia, keep the indoor level below 60 percent.)
6. Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
7. Make sure water does not pool around the foundation of your house.
If it does, clean, repair or replace gutters and make sure downspouts direct the water away from the foundation. Also, check the grading of the soil around the foundation of your house. It should have a gradual slope away from the foundation.
For more information or questions, contact Effingham Extension agent Sam Ingram at 754-8040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.