The home is very much like another member of the family. It has its own characteristics, its own shortcomings, and you will have your occasional arguments with it. But at the end of the day, you care about it. You should also care about its health just as you would care for any other member of the family. In that manner, you are directly responsible for it. Mold, damp, leaks, and moisture, in general. can be one of the most dangerous things to both your home and your own health, so it’s important to root it out wherever possible.
Know the signs
The best way to deal with mold and damp is proactively. So, being able to recognize the symptoms before they get serious is your chance at stopping them from doing the most damage, possible. Keep a lookout for the physical appearance of mold in dark green, blue, or black spots, particularly in the moistest areas of the home such as the bathrooms, kitchen, and where you keep your water heater. If the home smells damp on occasion, it could be another sign of mold. Mildew appearing on curtains or other fabrics is another sign to watch out for.
Why it matters so much
Mold and damp are big problems for both the home and anyone living in it. In the home, mold can degrade the building materials of the home. It might mean a replacement of drywall and mold affected materials like mildew-infested fabrics. In worse cases, it can mean the collapse of a roof, rotting of insulation, and foundational issues. Mold and damp can have worse effects on the health of the people living in the home, as well. They can cause and exacerbate breathing conditions like asthma. They result in huge buildups of bacteria in the home. They invite a lot more pests in the home, which can lead to their own health issues. Certain types of mold can be particularly dangerous to breathe in, as well.
Pipes are the first culprit
If you’re spotting damp patches in the bathroom, kitchen, or other areas with lots of plumbing, then checking your pipes should always be the first thing you do. Identifying the causes of a leak, as demonstrated by Hope Plumbing, is your best hope for a quick solution. There are issues such as the corrosion of older pipe materials that leads them to degrade until they’re no longer water-tight. A settling foundation of the house might knock some pipes loose. Clogs, from hair, grease, and other household debris, can cause leaks, too. If your pipes are leaking, then it’s going to be the most easily noticeable sign of water and damp in the home, but finding the cause and fixing it can take more time, so make sure you get your plumbers out as soon as possible.
Raise the roof
Leaks aren’t always going to be coming from inside the home, either. Sometimes, a home might not be well-enough protected from the water flowing outside it. In particular, if your roof is old and in need of a replacement, or has suffered damage such as a cracked or missing tile, it might be in real danger of letting rain inside the home. At first, that might be hard to notice if you don’t spend a lot of time in the loft. However, that rain can settle up there, starting to rot the interior of the roof, from the insulation you have to the wooden beams of the attic. An annual check of the roof is essential. It can be a lot less expensive to replace one broken tile than having to replace a whole roof, insulation, and interior ceilings.
Avoiding the big freeze
Back to those pipes, sometimes an issue is a little more out-of-the-ordinary than something like a clog or an older pipe deteriorating. Winter can be one of the most dangerous times for your plumbing. Pipes freeze and often when they do, they’re at a risk of bursting. Burst pipes, especially if you’re not in the home, are some of the most expensive sources of water damage in the whole home. There are a lot of ways to prevent them, however. Drain excess water from your pipes in the winter. Cover them with foam insulation. Tie pipe heating cable down to any pipes that need a little extra warmth. On the coldest of days, you might even want to leave water dripping from at least one faucet in order to keep it flowing through the pipes. The freeze only affects pipes where the water can remain still and stagnant.
The hottest issue
On those cold winter days, you’re also going to be concerned about how well you’re able to heat the home. If you’re not careful with your water heater, as SFGate suggests, you could have a lot more than a chilly night to be concerned about. Poorly maintained water heating can just as commonly lead to burst pipes as unprepared plumbing. Make sure that you regularly flush your water heater and prevent the scale buildup that can lead to blockages, leaking radiators, and complete bursts.
Deal with those rainy days
The roof isn’t the only part of the home where the exterior moisture is at risk of invading the home, either. Any air leak can become a serious danger, so protecting the home from the elements is all about identifying them and covering them as soon as possible. Not only can these air leaks lead to slow intrusion of water, but they also invite in all the moist air. As we’re about to explore, it’s the moisture in the air that can lead to some of the most insidious, long-term damage.
Breathe in the air
Humidity is harder to notice than a leak, but it can do the same damage, if not worse damage when left over time. Dehumidifiers can help, but the most effective way to deal with poor air quality is to invest in your HVAC system. Keep your air conditioning unit running smoothly, as recommended by DIY Network. Replace the filters on any interior ventilation. Make sure that you have extractor fans fit in your bathroom and keep them well maintained. Encourage better airflow through the home with ceiling fans. The more that moist air is left to stagnate in the home, the more chance it finds a corner to settle in where it starts growing into mold.
The guttering of the house can also be more of a danger than many homeowners realize. Often, this is because things like debris from trees and dirt will build up in them to the point that they develop a sludge that stops the effective redirection of water. When that happens, water and moisture build up until they find somewhere else to go. Sometimes, the path of least resistance might very well be inside the home. When they saturate the wall, this can be the source of some of the worst damp and mold problems for the interior of the home. Look at gutter-cleaning guides to find the exact source of your guttering problems, whether it’s a blocked outlet, leaking gutter joints, loose downpipes, or otherwise. The fixes for the gutter aren’t often that complicated, so a little DIY can solve most of them. Investing in a gutter guard can stop a lot of that debris from building up, too.
That sinking feeling
Amongst all of the problems that excess moisture in the home can cause, the potential damage to your foundations is amongst the most serious. If you start to notice cracks appearing in your brickwork, interior walls, or chimneys, it could be a sign that your foundation is in danger. There are a variety of causes, but if you have a moldy, damp smelling basement, it’s the excess moisture that could be the biggest cause. Avoid this in advance by using basement waterproofing solutions from services like Helitech. If you do notice those symptoms, then you might have to invest in foundation repair as soon as possible. Those cracks could get worse, even leading to separation and the sinking of the home.
The problems with your pipes might not always necessarily be due to poor maintenance of the home, either. It’s not as common for most homeowners, but if you have trees near the house, they could be the culprit just as easily. Tree roots can expand long and wide, including under your home, in their search of water and nutrients. They can penetrate just about any opening, including any potential weak points and joints of your pipes. This can cause not only leaks that lead to worse water pressure and an increase in your bill. It can also result in the blockage of waste, sewage, and water, that leads back up into the home, leaving it at severe risk.
No home is going to be without its problems, in time. Wear and tear, changes in the environment, and little issues becoming major problems will all play a hand in that. It’s up to you to be proactive and more diligent in spotting the signs early, not just in cases of mold and damp, but other issues, too.