What is That Yucky Stuff on my House?

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The yucky stuff that we most commonly see growing on the siding of a house is mold, mildew (mold in early stage), or algae. Homeowners often ask these questions: 

So, what is mold? Mold is a fungus that produces spores - light-weight seeds. Mold spores are smaller than a human hair and multiply quickly. Spores can travel through the air to attach themselves to surfaces. When landing on damp spots, they begin to grow. So when we have a lot of rain, beware. Damp, dark conditions are ideal for mold growth. Mold is a necessary part of the environment. Without mold, leaves would not decay and soil enrichment would not take place. While mold is necessary for the environment, it is not necessary for inside or outside surfaces of your home.

What is the different between algae and mold? The difference between algae and mold is that algae is a plant, not a fungus. Algae is merely a plant that enjoys sunlight and moisture. It is a naturally occurring, moss like plant, that is spread through airborne spores, like mold. However, algae will not damage your home like mold will, it simply looks bad and can bring down the curb appeal on a home. 

            How does mold grow? Mold requires moisture to grow. That moisture can come from excessive rain or lack of sunlight. That’s why you may see mold growing only on the side of your house not exposed to the sun. Mold can begin to grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours of water exposure. Mold can also grow if there is a buildup of dirt. Fungus feeds on dirt and dust as well. Mold will continue to grow if steps are not taken to remove it.

            Is mold harmful? Yes, mold can be harmful to both your home and your health. Remember how mold is necessary for the decay of leaves? That is what it can do to the inside and the outside of your home. Mold eats away at surfaces and will eventually penetrate the surfaces. Almost all materials can be damaged by mold over time as mold feeds on organic materials such as wood, paper, fabrics, and even glue. Once the mold begins to eat away at these materials, it can cause rotting, decay and destruction of the surfaces. If not removed, in extreme cases, mold can cause enough damage to collapse of ceilings, walls, and even floorboards. The mold on the exterior of your home can enter your home through open windows and doors. Better to just remove it as soon as you see it!

            How can mold on the exterior of a home be harmful to your health? Mold is a health hazard and can affect breathing, especially if an individual suffers from asthma or allergies. Children, the elderly, and those already suffering from illness are particularly susceptible to mold-related health problems. Children, and even pets, are susceptible to having a reaction to outside mold if they play outside near the home. 

            What can I do about mold? East Coast Powerwashing offers a service called a “soft wash.” Soft washing does more than just clean the dirt and pollen that has been collecting on your siding all year long.  It also kills and removes mold that is growing. When we soft wash, we use a soap mixture that contains a detergent to clean the siding and bleach to safely kill and remove the mold. After we pre-rinse the home, we apply this mixture to the house allowing it to penetrate the mold spores, killing them at the root. Rinsing the home with a low-pressure rinse follows this step. This safeguards the siding from damage and removes any existing mold from the home. Doing this once a year will keep most homes mold-free.