Staying High And Dry

Preventing Mold From Growing In Your Home

by Thomas Walters // January - February - March 2017

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of water – a refreshing drink, a way to stay cool, something that keeps your garden healthy? While water is all of those things, it can also cause damage in a short period of time. One of the keys to preventing damage and mold from water is to act quickly.

In order to prevent water damage in your home, you first need to be aware of sources of such possible damage. Melting snow, heavy rain, an overflow of the sewer system, ice damming, and condensation from activities like cooking or showering are the main sources of water damage that I see.

For the individual who is either building a new home or remodeling an existing one, I suggest considering the following:
– Choose wood-based over paper-backed products for walls (e.g. use wainscoting instead of drywall);
– Place electrical outlets higher up on walls to avoid contact with water in the event of a flood;
– Rather than carpet, consider area rugs; these can be rolled up and removed if a flood threatens, or removed and dried if they do become wet.

Here are a couple of common sense tips for protecting important items. It’s always a good idea to keep electronics on higher shelves, or at the very least to keep them up off the floor. And while electronics tend to be the first things people think about protecting, the most valuable items many people own are those things that cannot be replaced. Your photos and important documents are much more difficult to replace than a TV. I recommend storing those items on a higher floor when possible, and I also suggest keeping them in plastic containers.

One of the main concerns with water damage is the possibility of mold. In addition to being unsightly, mold can contribute to allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. If water gets into your home, be sure to clean and dry damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours. If mold has become a problem, it’s important to clean it up and eliminate the source of moisture as soon as possible.

Here are some recommendations to help prevent mold from forming in your home:
– Don’t install carpeting in areas that have a perpetual moisture problem.
– Reduce indoor humidity to 30-60%. This can be done by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside, increasing ventilation, and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
– Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.

The most practical advice I can give to someone who’s experienced water damage is to start water damage cleanup as soon as possible, which increases the likelihood of saving water-soaked items and preventing mold growth. That, along with prevention, which includes consulting with your insurance agent to make sure you are properly inured to protect yourself from water losses, is your best bet for staying high and dry.

Thomas Walters

Allstate agent and owner of Walters Insurance Agency, located at 3207 Rogers Rd. in Wake Forest.