As the humidity heightens in the summer months, homeowners may start to notice mold growth on the exterior of their homes, fences, porches, or decks. However, with proper maintenance and care, homeowners can reduce the effects of mold and prevent its continued growth. Christopher Wittmann, a NARI Certified Remodeler and an exterior product specialist for Callen Construction Inc. in Muskego, a full-service remodeling company serving southeastern Wisconsin since 1986, suggests ways to prevent and eliminate mold before it becomes a problem.
Mold can grow at any time when sufficient moisture is available and organic material is present, but the effects of mold growth are dependent on the surface.
“If your exterior siding is wood, fiber cement, or a composite product that has organic materials as part of the product make-up, the mold can actually embed itself into the material, break it down, and work its way into the protective house sheathing or the structure,” said Wittmann. “Once it’s inside, it can increase a homeowner’s risk of respiratory issues, skin irritation problems, and other health problems. Even if the mold does not make it through the surface, it can lead to discoloration, chipping, flaking, odors, and aesthetically unpleasing appearances on the exterior.”
The first step in preventing mold growth is by rinsing exterior surfaces with a garden hose twice a year. However, Wittmann warned that homeowners should not use a pressure washer because the force of the water can force moisture behind the siding and cause mold and mildew issues on the protective sheathing.
Wittmann offered other maintenance tips to prevent mold, such as keeping gutters and downspouts clean, taking care of leaky roofs, siding, and trim, and ensuring areas around dryer vents are clean and dry. Homeowners should also ensure that any exterior wood surfaces are protected with a good exterior paint or stain. “If you are painting the exterior of your home, it is a good idea to inquire with your home center about a mildewcide being added to the paint,” he said.
Ensuring vegetation and coverings are cleared away from the surfaces is important so the area can dry out properly, as well as protecting decks and porches from moisture. If mold growth does occur, cleaning the surface with water and a non-abrasive, non-acidic, non-bleach detergent is a good way to start. Applying a commercial mold/mildew remover is the best method for removing mold; however, homeowners should consult their siding or paint manufacturer’s recommendations before applying it.
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