GRASONVILLE — “While a rolling stone gathers no moss” as the proverb states, mildew and mold are certainly attracted to siding, decks, and porches! These can damage home and health. However, with the right tools and regular cleaning, you can relax outside instead of battling mold.
There are 144,000 different kinds of fungi (plural is “fungi”) which include mold and mildew. Mildew first appears as a white stain. If not treated it develops into black, blue, green, or red mold. Mold can flourish on almost any indoor or outdoor damp surface, easily reproducing its growing spores.
Disturbing mold spores causes them to spread into the air, making them hard to remove. Mold can infiltrate from outside your siding to beneath it, feeding on drywall, studs, ceilings, and floors. Mold can be dangerous if it enters your HVAC systems, as ingesting mold spores can cause serious health problems. (We had to vacate a rental home once due to a black mold infestation!)
Mold that expands behind siding may require siding repair or replacement. Get quotes from reputable companies, but as State Farm Insurance Agent Hank Starkey advises, “Before you allow work on your home, request a “Certificate of Insurance”. This proves the contractor has General Liability and Workman’s Compensation Insurance. Without this, if the contractor damages something or an employee is injured on your property, your homeowner’s policy will not protect you.”
The first step in removing mildew and mold is cleaning your gutters of decaying leaves and twigs. Runoff from clogged, overflowing gutters spreads mold down the walls of your home. Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year. Mold and moisture can also sneak into your house through cracks and tears in the butt-joints and through improperly sealed HVAC system piping. Water must be channeled away from door and window headers with flashing, as these are mold-susceptible entry points.
Surprisingly, pressure washing can harm your home—peeling off paint, ripping through wood siding, and ruining sheathing and insulation. The safer way to eliminate mold is to buy an extendable, pivot-headed garden hose attachment so you can clean your gutters safely from the ground. Some attachments have a reservoir which you can fill with a cleaning solution. One product, the Hyde PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Wand, promises to work well. Many times, mold and mildew will simply spray off. In more stubborn cases, you may need to use a stiff brush to scrub off the mold.
There are a variety of commercial solutions to kill mold. Some require spraying, soaking, scrubbing, and then rinsing. Some require simply spraying and letting rain wash it off. If you are environmentally conscious, white vinegar and baking soda make a great cleaner. This mixture will not bleach out colors and is human and pet friendly. Teatree oil also works but is pricier.
Much has been written about using bleach to kill mold, but this is an antiquated approach and a serious mistake. Bleach is harmful if inhaled or splashed into your mouth or eyes. Also, bleach weakens wood by tearing down the organic structure that makes it strong.
It is possible to prevent a recurrence of mold and mildew on decks and porches by applying a deck sealer with a mildewcide to impede future fungal growth. Once you get the mold and mildew off your home, regular maintenance prevents future work by taking care of any outbreaks soon after being noticed.
The next time you see green mold creeping outside your house perimeter, know that an easy solution exists and the sooner you act, the sooner you can return your house to its original beauty!