One of the most insidious threats to our homes is mold. It is a quiet and invasive specimen that works its way into the walls and floors at a frightening pace. Mold damages wood walls and floors and can even weaken stone and mortar.
Knowing mold’s propensity for wood and stone, people whose houses have plaster walls may feel ready to breathe a sigh of relief. You don’t often hear people suffering from mold growth in these circumstances, but that raises the question:
Can mold grow on plaster walls? To put it simply: yes, it can.
Mold can grow on any surface that its roots can settle into. In most cases, plaster surfaces on walls do not offer enough nutrients for the mold to grow well. It can grow, though.
Plaster is typically made of clay or lime, making it non-porous. What gives mold the ability to take hold is the backing material on which the plaster is mounted. Mold can grow if this material is porous – such as wood or cellulose-based.
It will begin its life setting roots in the wall cavity, spreading far and wide. It is the dark and wet environments of these cavities in which mold thrives best. It can seep deep into the wood and draw as much sustenance as it can from its moisture. Once it has achieved enough of a stronghold, it will start breaking through the plaster on your wall.
Why Mold Growing on Your Plaster Walls is Bad
Mold is unsightly when it begins to spread, leaving dark or white stains and trails along your walls. This is bad enough, but it’s the least of all the problems mold growth can cause.
First and foremost, mold growths are a surefire sign that you have a water problem. Mold is primarily created by the presence of water over a long time or in a warm and damp place. If you find mold growing on your plaster walls, you will need to check for signs of leaks. Whether this is a leaking water pipe or an external leak allowing water into your home should be discovered before you start dealing with the mold.
Mold growth also causes several issues for you and your family if left untreated. Spores released by mold are known to cause several adverse health conditions. When embedded in the lungs, respiratory problems begin, potentially developing into other illnesses such as asthma or pulmonary edema. In other cases, allergies to mold spores can be triggered, causing mild to severe allergic reactions. All of this is especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, and those who have weakened immune systems.
How to Kill Mold Growths
Removing mold growths from any surface is more complex than wiping them off with a damp cloth. All too often, we hold the assumption that once the surface growths are clear, the problem is fixed. This is a misconception, as mold, like garden weeds, will always come back if the root network is untouched. When dealing with mold on wood or stone surfaces means cleaning deep into the porous layers beneath the surface. This is especially true when it comes to plastered walls.
Most people suggest you call in a professional Utah mold clean up company to deal with major growth on plaster walls. However, in cases where the affected area remains small, it is possible to handle mold infestations yourself. To do so, you will need the following items:
- Protective eyewear/goggles
- Thick rubber gloves
- A respirator
- Antifungal or antimicrobial cleaning products
- Cleaning rags and scrubbing brush
- A dehumidifier (if possible, opening windows will suffice)
Once you are kitted out, use the following steps to remove the mold infestation. Put on all the protective gear you have, as you will want to prevent the mold from touching any part of your body.
1. Prepare the area
If you can isolate the infested area, do this first. Ensure that no pets or children have access to the mold to prevent potential infections. If the mold results from a leaking or broken pipe, you’ll have to shut off your water supply until the repairs are done. For an external leak, block and repair the entrance the water is using. Once this is done, open all windows and doors around the growth to clear out floating spores.
2. Clean the infested area
Mix the antifungal or antimicrobial cleaning products with warm water in a clean bucket. Using a rag, wipe the mold area until it is clean of all traces. If a rag becomes dirty, dispose of it and use a fresh one, do not reuse the same rag. Ensure the antifungal products have soaked into the material of the wall to kill the mold’s root system.
3. Clean the surrounding areas
When the mold is gone, clean and treat the surrounding areas with a fresh bucket of antifungal chemicals, this will destroy any further growths that have not yet appeared on the plaster’s surface. Do this to any furniture in the room that could have been affected by mold spores.
4. Dispose of all cleaning equipment and let dry
With the room clean, dispose of every rag and cloth used to clean the mold in secure plastic bags. If any residual mold spores are on them, leaving them with the rest of your cleaning equipment risks a recurrence. Open the room up once more and allow it to air for at least 24 hours until completely dry. This is vital because the areas of the wall you cleaned will become damp. If you don’t allow it to dry fully, it will create the perfect conditions for the mold to take hold again.
If you have followed these steps and see a recurrence of mold within a month, the growth will have been deeper than you thought. In worst-case scenarios, infested areas must be removed and replaced to eradicate them. In these cases, you will need a Utah mold removal specialist to come and assess the infestation.
Some people believe mold cannot take root on plaster walls, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Never assume that mold on plaster walls is only on the surface. Take proper steps to prevent any infestation from spreading and safeguard the integrity of your home.