By S.E. Slack

Some people think of mold as something that only occurs in highly humid, warm areas. Some also have the mistaken impression that cold winter snows kill mold, which keeps their Midwestern homes safe from harm. Neither could be farther from the truth.

Mold spores float through the air in every part of the world as part of nature’s battle to break down dead organic matter. If they land in your home and you have an unresolved moisture problem, you’ll soon have a nasty, smelly mold problem on your hands, too.

You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money, maintain the property value and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture inside your home. Sometimes, that’s not possible. A pipe might break behind a wall and it might be months before your discover it. Or a roof leak might go undetected until weeks of snows begin to melt.

Mold is typically not covered under homeowners insurance but it is worth a call to your agent to determine whether your insurance will pay to repair the initial water problem – the burst pipe or the roof leak, for example. After that, you’re on your own.

If the moldy area is less than 10 square feet, the Environmental Protection Agency states that you should be able to handle the job yourself. Go to your local hardware store and purchase an N-05 respirator, long gloves and goggles without ventilation holes. These three items will help you avoid breathing in mold spores or getting them onto your skin or eyes.

If the mold is growing on a hard surface, like a shower tile, you can scrub it with detergent and, ironically, water, to clean off the mold. Then you’ll need to dry it completely. More absorbent materials, however, such as carpet and carpet pad, should be thrown away and replaced.

The most important way to prevent mold growth, according to the EPA, is to keep humidity within your home to 60 percent or less. Increase ventilation, vent bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside, and use exhaust fans whenever you cook, wash dishes or clean.