Check foundation to prevent mold

(NewsUSA) - In these hard economic times, it has never been more important to protect what for many people is their most significant investment: their home. And one way to do that is to keep mold at bay -- because not only does mold present health concerns, but it also can damage your home.

Areas of your home that are continually wet -- like the insides of walls or attics and basements, often out of view -- will eventually shorten the life of your home and lead to expensive repairs. Research shows that if you keep moisture out of your home, you'll likely avoid mold. In the presence of moisture, mold will grow on virtually any surface -- steel, plastic, even fiberglass.

Fortunately, there's a new source of information to help avoid such problems. The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition, funded by USG Corporation, National Gypsum and American Gypsum is an excellent source of information on how to keep your house dry -- from the way it's designed, to the way it's built, to the way it's maintained. RSMC's members, including academic, government and building industry associations, developed the Guiding Principles for Mold and Moisture Control-50 steps that can be taken to build and maintain a house free of mold.

Here are some helpful hints:

- Run bathroom and kitchen vents for an extra 10 minutes after you finish showering or cooking. Also, make sure your vents go outdoors. If they vent into the attic, you're not getting rid of the moisture.

- Make sure the grade around your home slopes away from the foundation. Often, houses will settle as they age, creating a drainage problem. If the ground around your home slopes inward, which may or may not be visible, it provides a pathway for moisture to enter your basement.

- Make sure sprinklers are pointed away from the home. Over time, sprinklers that are directed toward your house will allow thousands of gallons of water to penetrate the walls.

- Take a look at the caulking around doors and windows. If it's cracked or falling apart, water can seep into your walls.

- Replace washing machine hoses every five years. This is the single largest category of water-related claims filed with insurance companies each year.

The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition (www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org) provides a wealth of information for homeowners -- whether you're building, remodeling or maintaining your home. Be a "water detective" in your own home. If you see water or dampness, find out where it's coming from -- stop it -- and repair or replace any materials that have been damaged.