In nature, mold has an important role in breaking down dead organic matter. Mold reproduces through tiny spores that are invisible to the human eye. These spores are floating through the air, and can enter a house through doors, windows, or any other openings.
Usually, the spores have no negative affects when they enter the house. However, if there is a damp or wet spot, the spores can begin to reproduce resulting in mold. Unfortunately, molds can cause health problems when inside a home. Often, molds produce allergens, irritants, and in certain molds even toxic substances known as mycotoxins. For those with asthma, it can trigger severe asthmatic attacks. In addition to the health hazards that mold causes, it can also damage surfaces. Wood, fabric, and leather can be discolored and suffer from long term damage when exposed to mold. It strives anywhere where there is warm, damp air, and as a result, attics are often at risk of hosting mould.
What Causes Black Mold in the Attic?
- Poor Attic Ventilation – Not enough ventilation in the attic is the most common reason for black mold being found in attics in places with cold climates. Additionally, poorly designed attic ventilation can be just as problematic. Some attic ventilation systems are designed so that there is a combination of vents that trap and create pockets of “dead air” that is created from condensation of the decking of the roof in cold temperatures.
- Wrongful Dischargement – Unfortunately, some house designs leave the vents from the dryer, kitchen, bathroom, and other types of exhaust fans in places that cause them to release their discharge into the attic instead of the outside of the house. This can create the perfect setting for black mold.
- Condensation by the Furnace and Water Heater – If a furnace and or water heater are set up in a attic with poor ventilation instead of an enclosed area, they can give off enough heat to create condensation in cold temperatures and contribute to mold growth.
- Floor Insulation – If the floor below the attic is either missing floor insulation, or has a poor moisture barrier installed, heat and moisture from the house and rise into the attic area. This process can lead to the growth of black mildew, especially in cold temperatures.
- Leaking Roof – If the roof is leaking, you’re definitely in trouble. If the roof is leaking, the area of black mold will typically be directly below where the leak is. However, if your attic has poor ventilation, the mold can spread to other areas of the attic.
Attic Mold Prevention
Whether you’ve found black mould in your attic and want to prevent it from spreading further, or if you’re simply just concerned about mold in the attic becoming a problem, there are steps you can take to ensure that black mould in attics won’t be in your nightmares.
- Correct Insulation – If you find that there’s missing insulation between the attic and the below living space, make sure to install some. This will keep the cause of the black mildew from reaching the attic and causing the problem.
- Enclose Furnaces and Water Heaters – Make sure that furnaces and water heaters are enclosed in an insulated area, whether it be a closet or seperate room. If there are vent pipes or exhaust systems that have to go through the attic, the area in the attic needs to be double or triple wall ‘B’ vent type to help prevent black mold.
- Correct Ventilation – The best way to prevent black mold in your attic is to make sure that it has properly balanced ventilation. Ideally, the ventilation in the attic would have ports that are evenly split between the upper and lower portion of the roof.
Other measures to prevent black mold from forming in your attic include immediately fixing a leaky roof, make sure that dryer and other vents aren’t discharging into the attic, and insulating pull down stairs and other entrances into the attic.
Attic Mold Removal
It’s important to remove mold that you find in your attic. Mold can have harmful health effects for those sensitive to allergens. Thankfully, unless the damage is too great, most furnishings and items can be salvaged.
Mold can be removed using simply water and a light detergent, a wet vacuum, a bleach/water solution, or high-efficiency particulate air vacuum.
If an item has small crevices or pores, it might be best to throw it away as mold can be extremely hard to remove from those spaces.
When removing mould, it’s important to make sure that you avoid contact with the mold as well as avoid inhaling any spores. When working with mould, be sure to wear protective clothing so that no spores ends up on your clothes. Also, it’s advised to wear a N-95 respirator as well as gloves, and properly fitted goggles.
When working on black mold removal, use extreme caution and don’t slack on protective gear. Precautions need to be taken to take you, those around you, and the environment as safe as possible.