Mold in Chimney
Your chimney might be bringing in mold in your home and you did not even know it. Chimneys are the most exposed portion of your home, usually on the side of the house with no roof and always unprotected from the elements of snow and rain. Leaks in the chimney are structurally dangerous, but can also cause the presence of mold in the home. The fungi spores in the air inside your home can cause respiratory problems and other health issues to you and your family. It only takes 24 to 48 hours for mold to grow where areas were not dry.
Detecting Mold Mold can be green, white, or brown depending on the mold species. Mold will also give off a musty smell that can be detected. Cracked or peeling paint or discoloration of walls are also another indicator that mold is beginning to take root in your home. Leaks might be detected around your chimney that appear to be a white powdery substance on the brick or mortar. This substance is called efflorescence and it is NOT mold, but IS an indication of moisture getting into the home around the chimney. A chimney inspection by a professional is the best course of action if mold or water leaks are suspected.
Mold Health Problems On the human body, exposure to mold can cause nasal and sinus congestion. In some instances, some might have an allergic reaction to mold that can cause headaches, cough, and irritation from the skin or throat. High levels of mold exposure can be toxic, but very rare. Always consult a physician if you feel any symptoms of mold exposure.
Causes of Mold Water will always follow the path of least resistance, and will follow cracks and also into pours mortar. Many times leaks are in the flashing where the chimney meets the roof. Improper or worn flashing can cause terribly leaky chimneys. When the water does not have full opportunity to dry due to locked in or humid conditions, mold begins to grow. The problem gets worse if moisture is trapped in walls and ceilings where it is most likely hardest to deal with.
Cleaning Up Mold An inspection by a professional will be required for the best course of action for any type of leak or mold around the chimney. The first step is finding the leak and repairing it so no more moisture can cause any damage. Flashing repair or a proper chimney cap may be required. Moldy surfaces will need to be cleaned with water and detergent. The area might also need to be disinfected with a mild solution of bleach and water.
Preventing Mold Keeping your chimney and exposed exterior of your home sealed is the first and best step in preventing mold. In high humidity climates, a dehumidifier can be used to keep the humidity levels in the home between 40-60 percent. In high humidity rooms such as bathrooms or basements, use paints that repel mold, and never use carpet. Always be aware of odd smells or discoloration and contact a professional right away if you suspect mold in your home. You will breathe easier and protect the longevity of your home.