Most people are familiar with mold growing in the home following a flood or major water leak. But did you know there are other ways mold and mildew can creep inside? Since it can damage the structural integrity of your property and lead to health problems, you definitely don't want the stuff in your house. Here are four places you may have never thought to look for mold and what you should do about it.
Underneath your refrigerator is a drip pan that collects water and condensation as it drains from the freezer and fridge sections. Any water that collects should evaporate with the help of the condenser fan and evaporator. But sometimes it doesn't, and the pan will start to grow mold and all sorts of harmful bacteria. It could also overflow and spread the problem elsewhere.
To check this, remove the kick plate at the bottom of the fridge and slide the pan out. Clean it with hot water and soap or a mild bleach solution. While cleaning, look for cracks in the pan.
If you've already noticed a leak around the fridge, or your drip pan was full and you know it's not due to a crack, you may want to check the drain lines for clogs. If they are stopped up, clean them with warm water and vinegar to flush out any particles of food or ice.
If you don't notice any clogs, check the condenser fan. You can usually hear it running, but if it isn't, that could be the culprit right there. If you don't know how to do it yourself, hire a professional to replace the fan.
Like your refrigerator, your HVAC system has pans or trays that collect condensation as it passes through your home. Technically, there are a couple of drains that should route the water away from your property. But if the drains become clogged, the pan can fill with water, and when it does, you guessed it--mold is going to spread like a wildfire.
You may not know that the drip pan is full until the unit isn't working efficiently or it stops altogether. At that point, you need to go where the main unit is housed (usually in the attic) and check the pan for standing water. If it's present, you can hire an HVAC professional to empty the tray and repair the system, but sometimes a professional restoration company can take care of it while at the same time checking for the presence of mold. This is probably the better option of the two because if mold is present, you'll need a company that specializes in mold remediation and water removal to take care of the problem anyway.
If your fireplace doesn't get much use in the winter, your chimney can become a breeding ground for standing water and mold. If the flashing is damaged or the caps are rusted, melted snow and rain will collect in the nooks and crannies of the bricks. And without the heat from a warm and toasty fire (or during the warm, humid months when it's not being used at all) you can bet that mold will love the dark, damp space.
Most people can tell that mold is growing in their chimney by giving it a good whiff. If you smell a musty odor, chances are you've got a problem. You may also notice some discoloration in the brick or see a white, flaky substance on the masonry.
To get rid of the mold, you need to hire a chimney sweep, then fix the problem that caused the mold to begin with. This usually entails replacing the flashing or caps on the chimney.
If your windows tend to collect condensation, it's a good idea to inspect them regularly for the presence of mold, especially during the winter months when condensation is more likely. Water can drip down the glass and collect in the lower part of the pane and around the seals and sashes. When this happens, the moisture tends to spread to all parts of the window. When ignored, your sills can become damaged, and the mold can spread to other areas of the house where there's moisture. Mold can also penetrate the paint which will ultimately require you to remove the damage and repaint the surface.
To clean, use a diluted vinegar or bleach solution with a toothbrush. Be sure to wear a mask and gloves. If the mold is severe, you may want to consult with a mold remediation expert. Eventually, you should consider having your windows evaluated by a professional who can let you know if a repair or replacement is necessary. You can click here for more information.