A bout your HOUSE
A
bout your HOUSE
THE CONDOMINIUM OWNERS’
GUIDE TO MOLD
Understanding molds
• MOLD CAN BE HARMFUL
OR HELPFUL –
DEPENDING ON WHERE
IT GROWS.
• MOLD NEEDS MOISTURE
TO GROW.
• MOLD DOES NOT GROW
ON DRY MATERIALS.
• MOLD GROWING INSIDE
A CONDO CAN AFFECT
THE OCCUPANTS.
• OCCUPANTS CAN LEARN
TO RECOGNIZE MOLD
What are molds?
Molds are microscopic fungi, a group
of organisms which also includes
mushrooms and yeasts. Fungi are
highly adapted to grow and reproduce
rapidly, producing spores and mycelia
in the process.
You encounter mold every day. Foods
spoil because of mold. Leaves decay
and pieces of wood lying on the ground
rot due to mold. That fuzzy black
growth on wet window sills is mold.
Paper or fabrics stored in a damp place
get a musty smell that is due to the
action of molds.
Molds can be useful to people. The
drug Penicillin is obtained from a specific
type of mold. Some foods and beverages
are made by the actions of molds. The
good kinds of molds are selected and
grown in a controlled fashion.
Molds are undesirable when they grow
where we don’t want them, such as in
homes. Over 270 species of mold have
been identified as living in Canadian
homes. Molds that grow inside may be
different from the ones found outdoors.
CE 36
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
What makes molds grow?
Molds will grow if we provide them
with moisture and nutrients. If we keep
things dry, molds do not grow.
How can you tell if it is mold?
High moisture levels can be the result
of water coming in from the outside,
through the floor, walls or roof; or
from plumbing leaks; or moisture
produced by the people living in the
condo, through daily activities like
bathing, washing clothes or cooking.
Water enters the building when there is
a weakness or failure in the structure.
Moisture accumulates within a condo
when there is not enough ventilation to
expel that moisture.
Discolouration is a sign of mold. However, all discolouration is not due to
mold. Carpeting near baseboards, for example, can be stained by outdoor
pollution entering the home. Stains or soot may also be caused by the
smoke from burning candles or cigarette.
Discolouration
Mold may be any colour : black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet.
Dab a drop of household bleach onto a suspected spot. If the stain loses
its colour or disappears, it may be mold. If there is no change, it probably
isn’t mold.
Smell/Odour
Sometimes molds are hidden and cannot be seen. A musty or earthy smell
often indicates the presence of molds. But a smell may not be present for
all molds. Even when you don’t notice a smell, wet spots, dampness or
evidence of a water leak are indications of moisture problems and mold
may follow.
Different kinds of molds grow on
different materials. Certain kinds of
molds like an extremely wet
environment. Other kinds of molds
may be growing even if no water can be
seen. Dampness inside the material can
be enough to allow them to grow.
Why are molds a concern?
Damage to materials is one concern.
Materials get stained or discoloured,
and over time they are ruined. Moldy
paper and cardboard disintegrate over
time. Fabrics are damaged. Continued
mold growth can be indicative of
moisture conditions favorable for
growth of fungi that cause wood rot
and structural damage.
When molds are growing inside the
home, there may be health concerns.
Molds release chemicals and spores.
2
Health experts indicate that, depending
on the type of mold present in a home,
the amount and degree of exposure,
and the health condition of the
occupant, the health effects of mold
can range from being insignificant to
causing allergic reactions and illness.
Pregnant women, infants, the elderly
and those with health problems, such
as respiratory disease or a weakened
immune system, are more at risk when
exposed to mold. Consult your family
physician if you believe there is
someone who may be at risk.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
When should you seek
professional help?
When is mold a problem?
• ESTIMATE HOW MUCH
You may need professional help when:
MOLD IS GROWING.
•
There is an extensive amount of
mold;
•
The condo is very damp and moist;
How much mold is growing?
•
One way is to estimate the area of the
mold.
Mold comes back after repeated
cleaning; and
•
A family member suffers from
asthma or respiratory problems or
other health problems that appear
to be aggravated inside the condo.
• YOU CAN CLEAN UP A
“SMALL AREA” OF
MOLD YOURSELF.
• FOR LARGER MOLD
AREAS OR RECURRENT
MOLD PROBLEMS, SEEK
PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Is there a mold problem?
Molds are always found in the air
outside and in all buildings. They come
into the home in many ways - through
open windows or doors, on clothing,
pets, food or furniture. The problem
starts when mold grows inside the unit.
Some mold growing, for example on
the window sill but not elsewhere, is
not a cause of concern. You can clean
the mold yourself. The presence of
mold is a sign that there is too much
moisture in your condo - a situation
which must be corrected.
Mold that is isolated inside walls and
which cannot easily come in contact
with the occupants is less of an
immediate concern but should be dealt
with by the Condominium Board.*
Inspect the condo to find the extent of the
mold. Advise your Condominium Board
if you suspect a serious mold problem.
Mold is considered to cover a “small
area” if it is no larger than the size of a
standard garbage bag folded in half
(crosswise or lengthwise). If there is
another mold patch beyond two garbage
bag lengths away it is considered a
separate patch (otherwise it all counts
as a larger patch). Clean up small areas
yourself using a detergent solution,
household rubber gloves and a dust
mask for protection.
Small moldy areas may become larger
over time if ignored, so it’s important
to clean up and remove even small
patches of mold.
If the patch of mold or all nearby
patches (less than two garbage bag
lengths apart) combined are larger than
a garbage bag folded in half but smaller
than a 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood or
drywall, the mold area is considered
“moderate.” You can clean up moderate
amounts of mold but you must follow
the proper procedures and use the
proper protective equipment.
A mold area is considered “extensive” if
a single patch of mold is larger in area
than a sheet of plywood. Being exposed
to this much mold is not a good idea.
Do not attempt to clean up large areas
of mold yourself. You need professional
help to determine why the mold is
there in the first place and how to clean
it up.
How do you get
professional help?
Advise your Condominium Board of
mold problems you may be experiencing.
Your Condominium Board will
determine if envelope specialists should
be consulted to resolve moisture ingress
through the envelope.
You may wish to seek advice on how
you can improve your own unit.
Contact your local CMHC office for a
list of individuals who have completed
the CMHC Residential Indoor Air
Quality Investigator program. A trained
IAQ investigator, who operates a
private business and sells his/her
services, examines the inside indoor air
quality conditions of your condo and
documents your concerns. He/she
identifies the problems, finds their
sources and suggests solutions in a
written report. Recommendations are
provided to you in an action plan that
consists of various options to improve
the indoor air quality in your home.
Ask your Condominium Board for
names of mold clean-up contractors individuals who have been trained to
clean up mold.
*References to Condominium Board can also be read to mean Strata Council or Property Manager.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
How to clean up small mold problems
a) Safety precautions
•
Wear a half-face respirator with
charcoal cartridges, safety goggles,
heavy-duty rubber gloves,
disposable coveralls and head
covering, and washable boots.
•
Isolate the area to be cleaned with
plastic sheeting, taped to walls and
ceiling.
•
Family members at higher risk
should not be in the work area
during the clean-up.
• “SMALL AREAS” OF MOLD CAN BE CLEANED WITH A
DETERGENT SOLUTION.
• WEAR A MASK, SAFETY GOGGLES, RUBBER GLOVES AND A
LONG-SLEEVE SHIRT.
• SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IF THERE IS A LOT OF MOLD
OR IF MOLD COMES BACK AFTER CLEANING.
“Small area” clean-up
You can clean up “small areas” of mold
(less than the area covered by a garbage
bag folded in half ) yourself. The
minimum protective wear needed is:
How to clean up moderate
mold problems
• CLEAN “MODERATE
AREAS” OF MOLD, BUT
•
safety glasses or goggles;
WEAR PROPER PROTEC-
•
a disposable dust mask (3M 8210
or equivalent);
TIVE EQUIPMENT AND
•
household rubber gloves; and
•
long-sleeved shirts and old clothes.
• NOTIFY YOUR CONDOMINIUM BOARD OF
REMEDIATION STEPS IN
YOUR OWN UNIT.
• SEEK PROFESSIONAL
Steps to follow in cleaning
up small mold areas
HELP IF THERE IS A LOT
OF MOLD OR IF MOLD
Washable surfaces
COMES BACK AFTER
Scrub with a detergent solution; then
sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry
quickly.
CLEANING.
Clean the surface with a damp rag
using baking soda or a bit of detergent.
Do not allow the drywall to get too wet.
Mold that comes back after cleaning
is usually an indication that a source
of moisture has not been removed.
Seek professional help from a trained
IAQ investigator.
4
Vacuum surfaces with a vacuum cleaner
which has a High Efficiency Particulate
Air (HEPA) filter or is externally
exhausted. Scrub or brush the moldy
area with a mild detergent solution.
Rinse by sponging with a clean, wet
rag. Repeat. Dry quickly.
FOLLOW PRECAUTIONS.
Occupants with asthma, allergies or
other health problems should be out of
the unit during the cleaning.
Moldy drywall
b) General cleaning
If you follow the proper procedures and
use the proper protective equipment,
you can clean up “moderate areas” of
mold. “Moderate” means the patch of
mold or all nearby patches (less than
two garbage bag lengths apart)
combined is larger than a garbage bag
folded in half but smaller than a 4 x 8
foot sheet of plywood.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
c) Cleaning wood surfaces
Vacuum loose mold from wood surfaces
using a HEPA or externally exhausted
vacuum. Try cleaning the surface of the
wood with detergent and water. Rinse
with a clean, damp rag and dry quickly.
If the staining does not come off, sand
and vacuum the surface of the wood
with a vacuum/sander combination. It
is important to vacuum at the same
time to prevent mold spores from being
dispersed into the air. Note that wood
affected by rot may need to be replaced.
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
d) Cleaning concrete surfaces
Vacuum the concrete surfaces to be
cleaned with a HEPA or externally
exhausted vacuum cleaner. Clean up
surfaces with detergent and water. If
the surfaces are visibly moldy, use TSP
(trisodium phosphate). Dissolve 1 cup
of TSP in two gallons of warm water.
Stir for two minutes. Note: TSP must
not be allowed to come in contact with
skin or eyes. Saturate the moldy concrete
surface with the TSP solution using a
sponge or rag. Keep the surface wetted
for at least 15 minutes. Rinse the
concrete surface twice with clean water.
Dry thoroughly, as quickly as possible.
e) Moldy drywall
The paper facings of gypsum wallboard
(drywall) grow mold when they get wet
or repeatedly wet and don’t dry quickly.
Cleaning with water containing
detergent not only adds moisture to the
paper but also can eventually damage
the facing. If the mold is located only
on top of the painted surface, remove it
by general cleaning (above). If the mold
is underneath the paint, the moldy
patch and other moldy material behind
it are best cut out and the surrounding
areas also cleaned. This should be done
by a mold clean-up contractor. New
materials may become moldy if the
moisture entry has not been stopped. If
this is the case, replacement of the
materials should be deferred until the
remediation of the building is
completed. The affected areas should be
temporarily covered with plastic
sheeting and sealed at the edges.
Any areas that show new patches of
mold should be cleaned promptly.
Dealing with an ongoing problem
• WATER ENTERING UNITS FROM THE OUTSIDE REQUIRES
REPAIR TO THE BUILDING ENVELOPE.
• OWNERS CAN REDUCE THEIR EXPOSURE TO MOLD IN
THEIR OWN UNITS.
Repair to the building envelope is
required if moisture is entering the unit
from the outside. Your Condominium
Board may already be undertaking the
work or is in the process of preparing
to carry out the remediation.
Condominium owners, meanwhile, can
take steps to reduce their exposure to
mold in their own units.
1. Discard moldy or damaged
materials.Wear a dust mask and
gloves. Furnishings, such as
mattresses, carpets, or sofas that got
wet or have been stored in damp
conditions should be discarded.
Discard items that are no longer
needed. Clothes and other items
that have been cleaned should be
stored in sealed plastic bags to
prevent re-contamination.
2. Proper vacuuming reduces the
amount of mold spores. All
surfaces in the condo (floors, walls,
ceilings, shelves) and non-washable
furnishings (such as sofas, chairs,
etc.) must be vacuumed
thoroughly.
3. Keep moisture generated within
the unit to a minimum by
conscientiously following the
prevention steps.
4. Pull carpets and furnishings away
from walls that get wet. Carpets
and underpads that are moldy
should be cut out and discarded.
5. Take steps to dry up areas that get
wet. Monitor the relative humidity of
the air. Use a portable dehumidifier,
if necessary. Ensure that the
condensate drain pan of the
dehumidifier is emptied regularly.
6. If the mold is limited to one area,
isolate the area if possible. Cover
the affected surfaces with plastic
sheeting secured at the edges with
duct tape. Note that this is only a
temporary measure to minimize
your exposure.
7. Healthy individuals can regularly
clean “small” and “moderate” areas
of mold, thus preventing these
from getting out of hand, by
following the safety precautions
and cleaning guidelines.
8. Consider seeking professional help
from trained IAQ investigators to
identify appropriate remediation
steps inside the unit. Removing large
amounts of mold will require the
services of mold clean-up contractors.
Notify your Condominium Board of
the extent of mold in your unit.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
5
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
Preventing mold
hardware store or electronics store.
A hygrometer costs from $5 to
$20. Relative humidity in the
home should be under 50%. If
necessary, use a dehumidifier to
lower the relative humidity.
• KEEP THE CONDO DRY.
• FIND AND FIX WATER
LEAKS.
• DISCARD CLUTTER AND
•
EXCESS STORED
MATERIALS.
• CLEAN AND MAINTAIN
THE CONDO REGULARLY.
• ENCOURAGE LIFESTYLE
PRACTICES THAT
Reduce the amount of stored
materials, especially items that are no
longer used. Molds grow on fabrics,
paper, wood and practically anything
that collects dust and holds moisture.
Mold-proofing your
condominium, room
by room
inside the HRV often.
•
If you notice molds or signs of
dampness, such as water on your
windows or wet spots elsewhere, do
not humidify.
•
Disconnect furnace humidifiers
that are no longer used.
•
If you have electric baseboards,
vacuum the units, or have a
professional clean them for you.
REDUCE MOISTURE.
Basement or crawl space
Basic steps to prevent and
reduce mold growth
•
Mold needs moisture to grow.
Controlling the moisture and
keeping the condo dry prevents the
growth of mold.
•
Check your condo for signs of
moisture and molds.
•
Find out if water is coming in from
the outside and if substantial moisture
is produced inside the condo.
•
Report any water leaks, moisture or
molds to the Condominium Board
promptly.
•
Think of the different ways moisture
is produced inside the condo (for
example, cooking, bathing, numerous
indoor plants). Remove the moisture
as it is produced by using exhaust
fans. In the absence of fans, open
windows for a short time, but note
that the wind can push the moisture
to other parts of the condo.
•
6
Measure how much moisture is in
the air. To find the relative
humidity in your home, you’ll need
a hygrometer. You can buy one at a
(Note: Although this section was written for
homeowners, some of the principles would
also apply to basements in condominium
buildings. Communicate with your
Condominium Board.)
•
•
•
•
Reduce the amount of clothes,
paper and furnishings stored in the
basement. Discard badly damaged
materials. Eliminate clutter to
improve air circulation. Only
washable items should be stored.
Avoid carpets on slab-on-grade or
below-grade floors.
Periodically clean the drain in your
basement floor. Use half a cup of
bleach, let it stand for a few minutes,
then flush with plenty of water.
Keep the drain trap filled with water.
Avoid standing water. Keep sump
pits covered (you can use plywood
wrapped with plastic).
Laundry areas
•
Check that your clothes dryer
exhausts to the outside.
•
Remove lint every time you use
the dryer.
•
Don’t hang-dry laundry indoors.
•
Dry your laundry tub and washing
machine after you use them.
Bathrooms
•
Check the bathroom fan to make
sure it exhausts to the outside.
•
Turn the bathroom fan on when you
shower. Keep it running for a few
minutes after you finish your shower.
•
Take short showers.
•
Keep surfaces that get wet, such as
the walls around the bathtub and
shower, clean and dry.
•
If there is a carpet in your
bathroom, remove it.
Furnace room
•
Regularly clean and replace furnace
filters. Use a pleated one-inch filter,
not a coarse filter.
•
If you have a heat recovery
ventilator (HRV), clean the filter
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
•
Check for water leaks.
•
Keep drains in good shape by
removing debris from them.
into the condo, have them take
off their shoes.
•
Vacuum often. If you are buying a
vacuum cleaner, try to get one with
a HEPA filter (see below).
Clean hard floors with a damp mop.
To clean a drain:
•
Pour a handful of baking soda into it.
•
Add a cup of vinegar.
•
•
Put the plug in the drain.
•
•
Let the vinegar and baking soda
work for about 20 minutes.
Do not bring into your condo
furniture, clothing, books, etc. that
have been stored in a moldy place.
•
Run fresh water into the drain.
•
•
If the drain is still clogged, use a
small plumbing snake.
Cut down the number of potted
plants in the house – soil is a good
place for mold.
Kitchen
Exterior
•
If the fan over your stove exhausts
outside, use it when you cook.
(Contact your Condominium Board)
•
Minimize open boiling.
•
Keep your drains in good shape.
Follow the steps in the Bathroom
section above.
•
There’s a drip pan at the back of
your refrigerator. Pull the refrigerator
out to clean the drip pan. At the
same time, vacuum dust from the
coils at the back of the refrigerator.
•
Check under the kitchen sink to
make sure there are no leaks.
•
Take out the garbage daily to
prevent odours and spoiling.
Closets and bedrooms
•
Get rid of clothes and other stored
items that you don’t use. Keeping
your closets and bedrooms tidy
makes it easier for air to circulate –
and harder for mold to grow.
Other parts of the condo
•
•
A dehumidifier helps to reduce
moisture in the condo during the
warmer months. Close the windows
when the dehumidifier is running.
When family and friends come
•
•
Regularly check the condition of
the roof and exterior finish for any
places where water might enter.
Make sure that eavestroughs and
downspouts are connected and
working properly and that they are
free of debris.
•
Install downspout extensions to
lead water away from the building.
•
Deal promptly with any problems
that you find.
Frequently asked questions
about mold
The air feels dry - can I humidify?
Before you add moisture to the air,
measure the relative humidity. Air that
feels dry may not be really dry. It may
be moldy. High relative humidity (over
50%) promotes the growth of molds
and dust mites. The moisture in the air
may condense on colder exterior walls
where molds start to grow.
If your physician has advised you to use
a humidifier in your child’s bedroom at
night, monitor the relative humidity.
Turn the humidifier on and off as
necessary. In the morning, take steps to
make sure the room gets dry. Clean and
empty the humidifier after each use.
What advantages do HEPA
vacuums provide?
Ordinary vacuums capture large particles
only - small mold spores pass through
the vacuum into the air. HEPA vacuums
have special filters that capture small
particles. A central vacuum cleaner
which is exhausted to the outside also
removes mold spores. A regular portable
vacuum is useful only if its exhaust goes
outside the home. Vacuuming removes
settled dust that contains an accumulation
of mold spores over time. Reducing the
settled dust reduces molds.
Vacuuming with any vacuum cleaner
(ordinary, central or HEPA) stirs dust and
mold during the process. Wear a dust mask
so you will not be breathing more mold.
Is vacuuming with a HEPA or
externally exhausted vacuum
cleaner recommended for
serious mold problems only?
Vacuum regularly with a HEPA or
externally exhausted vacuum cleaner to
prevent the ongoing accumulation of dust
and molds. The need for HEPA or
external exhaust vacuuming increases
with the severity of the mold problem.
If a furnishing has been wet at some
time in the past or has been exposed to
dampness over a prolonged period of
time, vacuuming with HEPA or externally
exhausted vacuum is unlikely to remove
the mold growing beneath the surface.
It is better to discard the item.
Where do you find a HEPA
vacuum cleaner?
Vacuum cleaner dealers carry HEPA
vacuums. Consider purchasing one as
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
7
About Your House
The Condominium Owners’ Guide to Mold
an upgrade to what you may be using.
A HEPA vacuum is a good investment
in the long term whether you have
mold or not. A generic canister HEPA
vacuum cleaner costs approximately
$300. Brand name products of the
same type may cost more.You may
inquire if the dealer has a HEPA
vacuum cleaner to rent. Contractors
who clean up or renovate houses for
mold should also have this equipment.
Does painting over a moldy
surface take care of the mold?
Painting over mold only masks the
problem. Paint does not kill the mold
nor stop it from growing. Surfaces that
are washable should be cleaned with a
detergent solution, following the
procedure suggested on page 4, then
allowed to dry. If you are going to
paint, remove any mold first.
Does cleaning stop the mold
growth?
Mold will reappear until its source of
moisture is removed. High moisture levels
that are not corrected can make the
molds grow back quickly. Cleaning is
only a temporary but essential measure.
You can help by making a conscious effort
to keep the condo dry. For obvious
reasons water must be prevented from
entering the condominium. But you
can help by controlling moisture that is
produced inside the condo.
How does one clean clothes that
are moldy?
Non-washable clothing can be dry cleaned.
Wash clothes with a detergent solution
to which a cup of bleach is added.
Make sure the detergent you use does
not contain ammonia. Repeat as
necessary until the moldy odour is gone.
Clothes and other items that have been
cleaned should be stored in sealed
plastic bags to prevent re-contamination.
To find more About Your House fact sheets plus a wide variety of information products,
visit our Web site at www.cmhc.ca.You can also reach us by telephone at 1 800 668-2642
or by fax at 1 800 245-9274.
Priced Publications
Homeowner’s Inspection Checklist
Order No. 62114
Healthy Housing Renovation Planner
Order No. 60957
Cleaning Up Your House After A Flood
Order No. 61094
Clean Air Guide : How to Identify and Correct Indoor Air Problems in Your Home
Order No. 61082
Clean-up Procedures for Mold in Houses
Order No. 61091
Free Publications
About Your House fact sheets
Measuring Humidity in Your Home
Order No. 62027
The Importance of Kitchen and Bathroom Fans
Order No. 62037
62341
©2001, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Printed in Canada
Produced by CMHC
03-05
Revised 2004, 2005
8
Although this information product reflects housing experts’ current knowledge, it is provided for general information purposes only.
Any reliance or action taken based on the information, materials and techniques described are the responsibility of the user. Readers
are advised to consult appropriate professional resources to determine what is safe and suitable in their particular case. Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation assumes no responsibility for any consequence arising from use of the information, materials and techniques described.
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