Did you know?
Mildew and molds can grow anywhere there is moisture, dirt and heat. They especially like warm, dark areas, such as bathrooms, closets, basements and crawl spaces. You can find mildew on draperies, bed linens, clothes, shoes, books, furniture and the exterior siding of your home. It can rot fabrics and discolor walls and wood surfaces if it is allowed to continue to grow.
Signs of a moisture problem include musty odors in the home, as well as characteristic black, gray, white or even pink splotches on your walls, furniture, bathroom tile or clothes.
Mold and Housing
There is not a building code or a health code set by federal or state officials that addresses mold specifically. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County and Buncombe County Environmental Health can provide tenants and property owners with basic information to assist them in identifying possible sources of mold and provide resources for additional information. Since there are no NC codes or regulations, Environmental Health cannot make site visits or conduct inspections to identify possible mold issues.
The general recommendation is to identify the source of moisture (water or high humidity) that is promoting the growth of indoor mold. Treating the current mold will not stop it from reoccurring until the water source causing the problem has been identified and repaired. Mold testing/inspections are conducted by private companies or consultants and it is usually recommended that property owners not spend money on such testing and rather spend that money on repairing the cause of the mold. For more information on when mold testing may or may not be helpful, refer to this guide from the Minnesota Department of Health: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mold/moldtest.html
Minimum Housing Code:
If you are a tenant and you think you have a water intrusion issue, you can call for an inspection to see if you have a violation of the Minimum Housing Code. To see the code go to: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=12499 Click on ‘Building and Building Regulations’ and then ‘Housing Code’.
- If you live in Asheville city: call the City of Asheville Development Services Department at (828) 259-5677 and file a Building Complaint and request a Minimum Housing Code Inspection. They encourage you to send the landlord a letter addressing the problem.
- If you live in Buncombe County: call the Buncombe County Fire Marshal’s office at 828-250-6620 and request a Minimum Housing Code Inspection.
Basic Mold Information:
Information on Tenants’ Rights:
For more information and a link to NC State Specialists contact:
North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Center
(828) 255-5522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
94 Coxe Ave., Asheville, NC
For additional questions you can also contact:
Carissa Moore, REHS – Buncombe County Environmental Health Services;
(828) 250-5024 or email email@example.com
Mildew Control Checklist
- Air conditioner is used when relative humidity is above 60 percent.
- Sheets of polyethylene have been installed over 80 percent of the crawl space.
- Foundation vents are kept open to provide cross ventilation.
- Attic is vented. (Attic fans help.)
- Ventilating fans, vented to the outside, are used in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Gas heaters are vented to the outside using an approved flue.
- Clothes dryers are vented to the outside of the house. Damp clothes and lines are hung to dry, not left around damp or wet.
- House and clothes are kept clean. (Remember: mildew begins on dirt.)
- Wet shower curtains are stretched out after every shower.
- Moisture-absorbing materials are used during times of high humidity. Some examples are silica gel, activated charcoal, calcium chloride, moth ball crystals and kitty litter.
- A low-wattage light bulb is kept on in closets to dry out the area.
- Heating system is turned on when the humidity is very high.
- Leather goods are waxed.
- Shrubs that grow close to the foundation are trimmed so that there is 1 foot of air space around the house.
- Mildew is cleaned from any exterior area of the house before repainting.
How to Remove Mildew
In many cases, a simple mixture of 1 gallon water and 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach is an effective mildew remover. In other cases, you may want to use detergent, ammonia, white vinegar, washing soda or some combination of these ingredients. CAUTION: Never mix liquid chlorine bleach and ammonia. This can produce toxic fumes.
There are a number of excellent commercial mildew removal products on the market. Many of these products come with a spray nozzle which makes them easy to apply. They cost more than homemade mildew removers, but sometimes work faster. If you use a commercial mildew remover, follow the directions on the container.
Whether you use a commercial or a homemade mildew remover, make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Raise a window or use an exhaust fan.
To learn more about Mold, Mildew and Moisture Control, please visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Buncombe County.