Moldy Stuff | Urban Living

Moldy Stuff 

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I just returned from helping my stepmom relocate to Florida. Although it's not the "hot" season yet, at 80 degrees and 64 percent humidity, it's too hot and humid for me to live there. Not only is it a damp feeling all the time, there are palmetto bugs (Florida cockroaches) as big as a kid's fist and those damnable dinosaur-age alligators and crocodiles.

Too much moisture can cause many problems for a renter or homeowner. Seeing a leak through the ceiling of your living room or a pipe full of sewage break in your basement is an obvious sign of too much moisture. But the sneaky drips you can't see will rot your foundation and destroy your support beams. Florida has mold problems, and lots of them. Yet, in dry-as-a-bone Utah, we've got mold issues, too.

There are a bazillion types of mold on our planet. There's mold right now in your living space—it's just as common as dust and dirt. When I meet people who live in moist environments, I can easily tell where they're from because the smell of mold on their clothes is stronger than those of high-desert residents. "Oh, you're from Portland—or Seattle!" Anytime you have organic material and moisture, you're going to have mold. Mold spores in the air can cause asthma attacks in some people, and it can effect our pets' health, too.

Luckily, Utah doesn't have many occurrences of dangerous black mold like in the southern part of the U.S. What you often see here in showers is mildew, which is surface fungi that's gray, white or yellow and can turn black over time. Mold is more fuzzy or slimy looking and there are more than 10,000 types that can live inside your home (according to the Centers for Disease Control). Black mold is the worst kind because it produces toxic compounds that can give you and your pets really bad health problems like sinus infections, asthma, fatigue and depression.

You might not know you have mold if you haven't been in your basement for a while. It took us three months to figure out a pipe had broken inside a wall and a small leak started and spread slowly inside the wall and down to the floor. We had to tear out all the Sheetrock to fix the pipes.

If you suspect you have mold, call a plumber ASAP. It can spread fast or slow depending on the water source and, trust me, it's expensive to repair when it goes unchecked—not to mention the toll it can take on your health.

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