Mold can be a real problem in areas that are exposed to higher levels of humidity and importantly reduced air flow such as your attic. As a result, it’s important that your attic is checked regularly for any presence of mold and you are aware of the danger signs. Early detection is key to avoiding mold spreading throughout your home causing further costs and risking the health of the occupants of your home.
In the article below we will explain:
- Why mold is something you need to be aware of when it comes to your attic.
- Provide advice on the danger signs you should look out for.
- When it’s acceptable to tackle the problem yourself.
- Lastly, we will discuss what you should do if you detect mold including potential removal costs.
Why attics are such a problem when it comes to mold
Your attic is an ideal place for mold to flourish. This is mainly due to a lack of proper ventilation, proximity to the ceiling (which may contain insulation which can have an impact on airflow) and often a lack of direct sunlight which will generally inhibit mold growth.
Basements have similar problems with mold growth for many of the reasons listed. There are a number of things you can do to limit the impact of mold in your attic including:
- Ensuring your bathroom and kitchen vents are ducting externally rather than directly into your attic space.
- Increasing airflow by installing some new roof and soffit vents.
- Installing and utilizing a dehumidifier.
- Regulating air temperature to avoid temperature fluctuations.
- Repairing air gaps around light fixtures and air vents leading directly to the attic.
- Increasing direct sunlight into the attic by opening windows (where practical).
- Schedule regular mold inspections if your attic has been subject to moisture e.g. roof leak or you live in a particularly high humidity/rainfall environment.
To summarize, mold thrives in humid conditions with little air circulation. The key to controlling mold in your attic is to repair and maintain any sources of moisture, improve the air flow and if possible ensure an even temperature.
If you are the homeowner and have any suspicion mold may be present (musty smell, symptoms of allergy) even if undetected by eye it’s advised that you schedule regular mold inspections with a professional. The untrained eye will not be aware of underlying issues inside your walls and other inaccessible areas of your attic. If left undetected in these areas your remediation costs can increase quickly and involve more extensive repair work.
Even if engaging a professional, it’s also a good idea to be aware of the danger signs so you can act quickly if required. Alternatively you may also be in the process of inspecting a home to purchase. Being aware of a developing mold problem will help you act quickly e.g. having the home thoroughly inspected.
The occurrence of mold is quite common in attics. Below we have listed specific areas of your attic you should keep a close eye on in respect to mold growth:
- Visible mold developing on the underside of your roofing boards
In most cases, this will be caused by a leak in your roof. If this is the case the entire roof should be inspected for further leaks.
- Roof insulation
In older homes (e.g. 1930 – 1940) homes were often built with the roof insulation in direct contact with the roof. Due to high levels of humidity and excessive heat, this was an ideal recipe for mold to develop. Be sure to check if this is the case by inspecting the roof boards by removing a section of the insulation. (Fiberglass roof insulation is particularly prone to mold.)
- Attic floor
Moisture that is caused by condensation can drip onto your attic floor. If covered it’s wise to inspect beneath the floor covering for both water damage and the presence of mold.
- Roof framing
The entire roof frame should be inspected for early signs of mold development and signs of moisture.
- Air vents/duct cavities
Check any gaps around your air vents and existing ducts. Gaps should be sealed if visible to the human eye.
Is it possible to remove attic mold without engaging a professional?
In some circumstances, this is certainly the case. For instance a spot that is less than ten square feet in size can be treated without consulting a professional. The EPA advise any area larger than 10 square feet, however, should be handled by a professional however, and at the very least we recommend you consult a professional for an inspection beforehand.
If you do choose to remove the mold yourself it is vitally important that the person removing the mold is wearing appropriate protective equipment including:
- Gloves (Longer style gloves are ideal. Never touch mold with your bare hands).
- Protective eye equipment (Avoid eyewear with ventilation, as mold spores may get into your eyes otherwise).
- A well fitting respirator mask (It’s important you do not inhale mold spores).
- Disposable overalls (also known as coveralls) or long-sleeve shirt and trousers.
If you don’t have disposable overalls, ideally you should dispose of any clothing items by first sealing in an airtight bag and then disposing of. The same goes for any cleaning equipment such as rags.
Attic Mold Containment
When removing mold from your attic you will invariably disturb mold spores, which when airborne can spread throughout your home. It’s important that any area where mold removal is taking place is adequately sealed prior to commencing. This can be achieved by using Polyethylene sheeting which can be purchased from most hardware stores and larger retailers such as Amazon and Home Depot.
If engaging a professional the level of containment may be higher and involve sealing the area and maintaining negative air pressure by utilizing a filtered fan to prevent air escaping.
Your total costs will obviously vary depending on how extensive your mold infestation is and how easy your attic is to access with the machinery required to carry out the job.
Obviously it’s impossible to provide an accurate cost for remediation of attic mold without seeing the extent of the damage first hand however if the problem isn’t widespread e.g. less than 10 x 10 square feet, as mentioned you can by law tackle the problem yourself.
If you do require a mold remediation company, a typical cost would be between $2000 and $6000, however this can vary considerably based on the level of infestation.
To summarise, it’s important as the home owner that you are aware of the problem mold can present if present in your attic and that it is inspected by a professional even if you are planning on removing the mold yourself. You should also be aware of preventative measures that inhibit mold growth in your attic such as increasing ventilation and reducing humidity.