Practical Tips For Preventing Mold In Your Home - 27 East

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Practical Tips For Preventing Mold In Your Home

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The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

Keeping windows open while the air conditioning is running can lead to mold issues.

Keeping windows open while the air conditioning is running can lead to mold issues.

The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

The common denominator in any mold infestation is moisture, according to Brad C. Slack, the founder of Mold Pro, Inc.

Taking proactive measures and practicing diligence can stop mold from ever becoming a problem in the home.

Taking proactive measures and practicing diligence can stop mold from ever becoming a problem in the home. BRENDAN J. O'REILLY

authorCailin Riley on Sep 14, 2021

It’s a sight no homeowner wants to see: blooms of blue, white, green or black sprouting and spreading on walls or ceilings, on shoes or clothing in closets, by floorboards or in dark corners.

Mold can be a silent but pervasive and serious problem, particularly for people living at or near the water and in areas prone to flooding or adverse weather events. It cannot only ruin everything from drywall to personal belongings but can also cause serious health issues. It’s why finding and eliminating mold in a home and, more importantly, taking steps to prevent it from showing up in the first place, is something that should be at the top of the priority list for any homeowner.

Brad C. Slack is the owner and founder of Mold Pro Inc., a full-service inspection and testing company that uses several different techniques and technologies to identify mold and come up with a remediation plan. The business, based in Wading River, serves all of Suffolk County, and Mr. Slack is frequently on the East End doing business.

Mr. Slack is a certified toxic mold inspector, with no less than four abbreviations in his job title standing for the different certifications he’s earned, making him one of the most knowledgeable inspectors in the business. His training and in-depth scientific knowledge in the field have made him a leader in the industry locally, but when it comes to mold, there is one simple tenet that Mr. Slack finds himself repeating constantly, no matter what kind of molds — and there are many, many different kinds — he’s dealing with.

“The common denominator is moisture,” he said. “Previous leaks, condensation, these are all things I look for during an inspection.”

There are, of course, many ways that moisture — and thus, mold — can enter a home. While the source of some issues may be visible to the naked eye, Mr. Slack also has important tools at his disposal, like thermal energy cameras, that can ferret out hidden sources of moisture, such as a leaking pipe inside a wall cavity.

If there’s mold in your home, Mr. Slack can find the source and come up with a plan, which is reassuring — but the ideal situation is to render a visit from Mr. Slack unnecessary. In a conversation with the Express New Group last week, Mr. Slack offered some practical tips for homeowners who want to make their homes as inhospitable to mold as possible.

Keep It Dry

Avoiding moisture build-up at all costs is the name of the game when it comes to preventing mold. Windows left open during rain, pools of water collecting near the tub after children bathe or any other daily activity or simple carelessness that introduces water into the home can become a problem over time.

“Mold is a living organism, and it needs moisture to subsist,” Mr. Slack said.

Cellulose-based surfaces like drywall are particularly susceptible to mold, especially if they’re in an area of high water activity, because cellulose helps mold thrive. And mold isn’t just aesthetically unappealing — it can lead to serious health problems, particularly black mold, one of several kinds of toxic molds that can lead to serious respiratory issues, chronic cold and cough illnesses, and in some rare occasions even death. Certain types of mold can be particularly harmful to children, weakening the immune system and at times leading to bronchitis and chronic conditions.

The AC Is Your Friend

Everyone likes fresh air, and the appeal of having a summer breeze gently swaying the curtains inside one’s home can be hard to resist. But during the warmer months, particularly when the humidity is high, air conditioning can be an important ally in the fight against mold. Mr. Slack often sees the consequences of trying to have the best of both worlds.

“In Hamptons homes, particularly rental homes, people want to have that fresh Southampton air, so they open the doors and windows and turn the AC on,” he said. “Then the air handlers freeze up and the basements get overcooled.”

While it may seem like common sense, one of Mr. Slack’s oft-repeated pieces of advice is to never run the AC with the windows or doors open.

To Protect The Inside, 
Start Outside

Mr. Slack has another piece of advice when it comes to preventative measures.

“The biggest thing is to clean your gutters,” he said. “You need to keep the gutters clean so water is pushed away from the house and doesn’t get into the basement.”

The greatest proportion of work for Mr. Slack’s team is in homeowners’ basements, often because gutters that were not properly cleaned of leaves and debris overflowed and emptied into the lowest portion of the house. Making sure any other issues in the roofing zone — such as flashings that may be failing or other unintended entry points for water — are dealt with is also key, Mr. Slack said.

Dehumidify

In keeping with the theme of eliminating moisture, Mr. Slack said that in addition to using air conditioning frequently — with central air being the most efficient and effective option — using dehumidifiers is another important strategy in winning the moisture battle. He suggested keeping dehumidifiers in the basement as a particularly important measure. Leaving closet doors open, especially if the home is going to be unoccupied for long stretches of time, is also important because high humidity and thus moisture can build up faster in small enclosed spaces.

Jump On It

If preventative measures aren’t taken, if they fail, or if there is some kind of water event in the home, the next best thing is to take quick and immediate action, Mr. Slack said. A mold inspection and follow-up remediation only gets more expensive with the passage of time.

“If you have a water leak, dry it out,” Mr. Slack said. “So many times people let things go and go and go, and a small problem can turn into a big problem.” He said he witnesses six-figure restoration jobs frequently. And while there are plenty of products on the market that claim to be mold preventative or even mold-proof, Mr. Slack said there’s no real substitute for taking the aforementioned preventative steps.

“Those things all have half-lives, and their effectiveness eventually diminishes,” he said.

In Good Hands

Homeowners who are forced to call Mr. Slack can rest assured knowing they’re in good hands with someone who has been in the industry since the early 2000s. Mold inspection and remediation might not be the sexiest industry, but the ubiquitousness of mold has meant that Mr. Slack is never hurting for business. It was not Mr. Slack’s lifelong dream to become a mold inspector, but his previous career paths made him well-suited to enter the field.

From his experience owning and operating a small construction company, he gradually began to realize that the mold business could be a lucrative one. His experience in the construction industry dovetailed nicely with his science background, gained during his college years when he studied organic chemistry in hopes of becoming a veterinarian.

“I had the science background and the construction background, so it was a perfect fit,” he said.

The mold industry is essentially split into two parts: companies like Mold Pro that inspect, assess and test and come up with remediation plans, and companies that execute those plans.

“I do the assessment, if necessary conduct samples, then write protocols if mold needs to be removed, and then hand it off to a licensed restoration company,” Mr. Slack said, explaining that the system “takes the conflict of interest out of the game.”

Mr. Slack takes pride in providing very detailed reports, which can be anywhere from 30 to 50 pages long, full of visual observations, links to agencies that can carry out remediation, and other important information.

Aside from providing a stable, successful career for himself, being in the mold inspection field enables Mr. Slack to experience the satisfaction of giving his clients something that may seem basic but is entirely essential.

“When they go back after [the mold] has been cleared, they’ll often say, ‘what’s that smell?’” Mr. Slack said. “I tell them, that’s the clear, fresh air in a healthy home, that you didn’t smell before. That’s what we try to achieve. You want to be comfortable in your own home.”

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