How to Get Rid of Household Mold

get rid of household mold

Tips for Preventing and Eradicating Mold in Your Home

There’s nothing worse to you as a homeowner than discovering you have a household mold problem. Because its ugly presence can be a nightmare, it’s important to both recognize a mold problem before it grows worse, and take preventative measures so you won’t have household mold in the future.

Not only is household mold ugly and destructive to your house, it’s also bad for your health. You could be suffering from a household mold problem and not even realize it. Symptoms may range from anything from breathing difficulties to sinus congestion, watery eyes, and throat irritations to nausea, vomiting, fatigue and rashes.

How Molds Enter Your Home

Although mold growing outdoors is the natural result of breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves, it’s detrimental to both your home and family when growing indoors. Mold spores, which are invisible to the naked eye, circulate through the air, looking for a wet surface to land in your home. Once they find it, they begin to grow. Therefore, to prevent molds growing in your home, you have to check for moisture.

household mold

Hidden Mold

Although molds usually grow on fibers, woods, and damp paper, sometimes it’s not easy to know if you have a mold problem, as it could be lurking in your house without your even seeing it.

Even black mold isn’t visible at first. However, a few warning signs may include musty smells (although you can’t see it growing.) This is the result of widespread water damage, such as a burst pipe within a wall.

Too often mold is mistaken for common mildew. If you try to remove what appears to be mildew with bleach and water and it still comes back, chances you may have black mold, which is a bigger problem. If you suspect your home has this kind of toxic mold, call a trained professional because you don’t want to agitate mold spores, creating more damage.

Preventative Measures – The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recommends a number of preventative measures to keep mold from growing.

Repair all leaks – Immediately repair and dry any water leaks within 24 hours.

Clean hard surfaces – Regularly clean hard surfaces with bleach-based products that not only kill mold but also destroy and neutralize any allergy-inducing spores. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, then have someone who isn’t sensitive do the cleaning.

Aerate all crawlspaces – Besides making sure all household crawlspaces (such as in attics and basements) are well ventilated, also place plastic over dirt in outside crawlspaces to keep out moisture.

Use exhaust fans – To guard against moisture in rooms such as your kitchen and bathrooms, install and use exhaust fans.

Use caution with humidifiers – Although humidifiers are needed, especially during the dry winter months, be sure to turn them off if you see condensation on your windows as that’s a sign of moisture.

Use dehumidifiers – Be sure to use a dehumidifiers in your basement, especially during hot humid weather.

Don’t carpet bathrooms and basements – If you already have carpeting installed over concrete, regular check for any signs of mold. Rather than carpeting your basement, it’s best to install flooring with area rugs that be taken up and washed. Installing a vapor barrier over concrete is also advisable.

Although finding mold growing in your home is not good news, at least you can feel good that you discovered it before it grew worse. Just take a deep breath (not literally) and do what you now know to do to get rid of it. If the problem reaches beyond your expertise, then find some dependable professionals who can take care of the problem. Most of all, take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

repair tools

Tools to Tackle Any Basic Home Repair Project

Hand Tools

repair tools

Screwdrivers Both flat and philips head screwdrivers, in a couple of sizes, will cover most small jobs around the house. These will be used mostly for things like tightening knobs, small electrical jobs, and assembling furniture. In some cases, you can buy one screwdriver that has a reversible “head” with the philips on one end and flat on the other. These are good space savers.

Pliers It’s a good idea to have a slip-joint pliers and a needlenose pliers on hand.

Wrenches A couple of wrenches, one of which is a pipe wrench, will come in handy.

Hammer For hanging pictures, installing mouldings, or even something as ambitious as building a deck, a hammer is a must. Hammers are available with both wood and fiberglass handles. It’s really a matter of preference. Fiberglass-handled hammers tend to be lighter, so you get fatigued less quickly. The best way to choose a hammer is to pick them up in the store and see how they feel.

Hacksaw These are lightweight, inexpensive, and indispensable for many small jobs. Hacksaws can be used for anything from cutting mouldings, to pipes, to tree branches.

Utility Knife A utility knife with plenty of sharp blades is necessary for all kinds of jobs, from cutting drywall to repairing window screens.

Level A basic torpedo level will help you hang artwork and moulding straight, as well as level patio stones or porch railings.

Tape Measure A tape measure is a must-have. Get one at least sixteen feet long.

Power Tools

power tools

Cordless Drill/Driver These are an absolute must! They are such a timesaver compared to manual screwdrivers, and the fact that you can use it as a drill makes this a great tool. They are available at just about any price level. In general, a 14.4 volt drill/driver is good for home use. Anything lower than that may not be strong enough, and anything higher may be overkill, unless you see some pretty big jobs in your future.

Miscellaneous Tools

miscellaneous tools

Plunger When that clog strikes in the middle of the night, you won’t want to be without a plunger. There are a couple of different styles, from your typical “cup” type plunger, to a flange plunger, also called a toilet plunger, to plungers that look like accordians. If you have to just choose one, get a toilet plunger. The flange can be pushed up into the plunger to make it into a “cup” plunger.

Safety Glasses and Work Gloves Safety is important. Have these on hand, and use them.

Storage

tools storage

A typical, metal or plastic toolbox is a good choice for storing your tools. A five-gallon bucket will also do a great job of holding your tools. You can even buy “aprons” to wrap around the bucket to hold tools and removable trays that fit inside to hold screws and nails.

By having these tools around, you’ll be ready for any home improvement, whenever inspiration or necessity strikes. And, if you know someone who is moving into their first home, these tools, presented in a nice toolbox, would make a great housewarming gift!

Hanging Objects on Walls

How to Fasten a Picture Frame (or Almost Anything Else) to a Wall

When you go to hang something on your wall, you’re worrying about two things; (1) minimizing the number and size of holes in your wall, and (2) being sure whatever you’re hanging doesn’t fall off the wall some day.

hanging objects on wall

What makes it complicated is determining what type of fastener to use, and trying figure out if you really need to find a stud for your fastener or not. So let’s uncomplicate it.

For the most part, you don’t need to find a stud unless you’re hanging something over 50 lbs. (and in some cases things that people are going to be pulling on such as a handrail or grab bar.)

Oops. Missed the Stud

To find a stud, everyone tells you to tap the wall listening for the sound of a stud or to buy a stud finder. These methods work for many people some of the time. That leaves a lot of times you’ve just driven a nail into the wall expecting to find a stud and didn’t.

When that happens, the first thing to get over is your guilt about making little holes in the wall. They fill in easily with spackling, and most are going to be hidden behind what you’re hanging anyway.

With that in mind, you can find your reclusive stud by moving three-quarters of an inch to one side and driving the nail again. If you don’t hit it, alternate sides and continue driving the nail at three-quarter inch intervals until you hit the stud.

(Yes, you’ll have a series of holes in the wall, but you already had one hole you were going to have to patch. You can patch a dozen more just as easily as one.)

To be sure you haven’t pinpointed the edge of the stud instead of the center, drive one more hole three-quarters of an inch further over. If you don’t hit anything, the previous hole is probably centered on the stud. If you do hit the stud again on the second hole, mark the center of the stud between the two holes.

When you’re fastening into studs, favor screws over nails. Screws can be easily removed when needed whereas removing nails from studs later may cause additional wall damage.

Now, when hanging something 50 lbs or lighter, your fastener choice is determined primarily by the item’s weight.

Lightweight Items

Take for example a small photograph or painting 12 inches by 12 inches or smaller. This often weighs just a few pounds. You can usually get away with a small nail or screw fastened into the wall at a downward angle, as long as it’s not wobbly after you set it. You can also use a picture hanger, which simply adds a strip of metal bent into a hook-shape held by a similar nail.

For those lightweight items, don’t go overboard using plastic wall anchors. You’re just needlessly making larger holes to patch later. Though patching is easy, patches over larger anchor holes tend to be more obvious after painting than patches over smaller nail or screw holes.

Bigger Frames or Heavier Items

If what you’re hanging is 5 to 25 lbs, plastic hollow wall anchors are usually fine. One type requires you to drill a slightly smaller hole in the wall to hammer the anchor into, and one type actually screws itself into ordinary drywall.

If you use the anchor type that requires you to pre-drill a hole, don’t make the hole too large or you’re going to be hanging your picture an inch off in a different direction because the anchor fell out of its hole. The self-drilling type is generally stronger and more fail-safe in installation.

Hint: Once in a while, you’re going to hit a stud where you intended to put your hollow wall anchor. When that happens, forget the anchor and just fasten a screw directly into the stud.

Even Bigger or Heavier

Between 25 and 50 pounds, you should be looking at rated fasteners that advertise how much weight they can hold. Large, self-drilling plastic anchors and some picture-hanging systems are up to the task.

As for the “butterfly” type hollow wall anchors that have a clip that springs open after it’s pushed into the wall, use these if you’re comfortable with them. They require large holes and some care in installation. As an alternative, the self-drilling plastic anchors can usually match them in holding power and are a lot easier and faster to install.

Wall Types

Whether your walls are drywall or plaster will make a small difference in your fastener selection if you’re not anchoring directly into a stud. Plaster walls are often up to an inch thick because they have a thin gypsum board or wood lath backing, while drywall is only one-half to five-eighths inch thick. Though you might get away with a one-inch screw into a stud behind drywall, that short of a screw will never reach the stud through a plaster wall.

Sometimes you might drive a screw into the wood lath plaster backing and think it’s a stud. If you really need to find a stud, don’t be fooled. But a screw fastened to the wood lath usually has better holding power than a screw supported only by plaster or drywall.

Sometimes old plaster is dry and brittle and crumbles when you try to use nails, screws, or plastic anchors. This is when the “butterfly” type hollow wall anchors are best.

Get Over Making Holes

If making extra holes really freaks you (or someone else in your household) out, take a hammer, nail and a little spackling into your closet. Drive a couple of holes where no one will see them, then touch them up with the spackling. If you have light colored walls, you’ll be amazed by how effectively they disappear.

If you have darker accent colors, be prepared to dab a little touch up paint over your spackling. If you use a fine art brush and just hit the spackling with it, it will be barely noticeable and you won’t end up repainting the entire wall.

And that’s what you were really worrying about all along, wasn’t it?