Old House Green Renovation: Mold Clean Up, Part 3

Jim Mallery

Part 3 of a three-part series, Old House Green Renovation: Mold Clean Up

Mold clean up part 1

Mold clean up part 2

The first two articles in this series explained the nature and danger of mold and the likelihood of how it might be lurking in your old house, only to be discovered during your green renovation.

An uninformed remodeler might be inclined to say, "out of sight, out of mind," and continue the project without taking care of the mold. As already explained, bad idea. This article looks at how to clean up the mold and restore a healthful environment in your old house.

How to Stop the Mold

So how do you stop mold from growing? Simple. Stop the moisture. Track down the source of any unexpected dampness in your house, whether from external leaks or plumbing, and get it repaired.

If your problem is from external water, make sure your land is graded and drained to pull groundwater away from your house. Rainwater should be channeled from downspouts away from your house. Crawl spaces can be covered with plastic to create a barrier to ground moisture.

Use exhaust fans in the damp rooms, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Nowadays, exhaust fans are required in laundry rooms, but your old house may have been built before they were required. Maybe installing a laundry-room fan should be your next green renovation project. Remember, exhausts and clothes dryers always must vent to the outside, not into the attic. There are a few steps you can take to prevent mold:

  1. Don't leave pools of water around the bathtub, which can seep under the baseboard or into other cracks. Wipe up condensation around toilets.  
  2. Keep your house warm to reduce condensation. Allow air to circulate through all rooms and leave closet doors open periodically so that they don't get cold and damp. 
  3. Keep the humidity in your house between 40 and 60 percent. You may need a dehumidifier or air-conditioner to control the humidity. Purchase a relative-humidity meter to monitor the moisture level. 
  4. Do not carpet areas that are likely to get wet, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 
  5. Lastly, mold inhibitors can be added to paint, if you have an area that you fear will be troublesome.

Mold Clean Up

If you are working on a hard surface, mold clean up is relatively simple. You can wash mold off with warm water and detergent; a stubborn area might need a bleach mixture of not more than a cup of bleach to a gallon of water. If you are using bleach, never combine it with another cleaner, as the chemicals could combine and release toxic fumes. Also, when using bleach, wear impervious gloves and have good ventilation.

If a porous surface, such as drywall, ceiling tiles or carpet has mold problems, it may well be spoiled. You probably will need to replace it.

Remember, while you may be able to clean up mold, it does little good if you haven't rectified the underlying problem--excess moisture. Stop the water and you stop the mold: Eliminate that source of indoor-air pollution.


About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding homes.

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