Probably one of the most difficult and consequently harmful issues to detect in any home is the presence and growth of mold.
Most people are aware of typical areas on the home where mold can take hold; however, many people are not aware of the health effects that it has for the family.
Something else many people are not aware of is the fact that there is a risk for fireplace and chimney mold. Mold is most often seen on chimneys and fireplaces that are not regularly used. It can also grow on bricks and quickly spread to other parts of your home.
So the question remains, how do you get rid of fireplace and chimney mold? Well, if you notice the growth of mold in your chimney, the first step would be to contact a certified chimney sweep. Technology has allowed for a clear picture of what exactly is inside your chimney.
A sweep will give you a detailed report of why mold is choosing to grow there and present ways in which you can remove the growth and keep it from coming back. Of course, the best course of action is to take precautions.
In the following guide, we’ll take a look at how you can get rid of fireplace and chimney mold in your home.
What is a chimney mold?
The last place any homeowner would expect to find mold is in the chimney.
However, what many homeowners don’t understand is that the chimney system is prone to water issues and creates a perfect environment for mold.
What you need to understand is that household mold thrives in dark, damp, and humid environments, such as crawl spaces, basements, ventilation ducts, and of course, chimneys that are also vulnerable to moisture.
One of the biggest factors in your chimney that results in mold growth is dampness. Dampness in your fireplace or chimney creates the ideal conditions for mold and therefore requires immediate attention. In order to prevent dampness, it’s essential to seal the bricks on the chimney’s exterior.
Unfortunately, chimneys bear the brunt of severe weather, so they must be sealed to prevent water penetration. However, before you apply any water sealant, make the necessary chimney repairs, and then seal it up. If you seal damage breaks, it will not prevent water penetration.
Another source of water in your chimney is perhaps a leaking chimney cap. In order to find out if this could be a problem with your chimney, you need to contact a professional sweep and restoration company.
There may be certain problems with your chimney that you do not have a trained eye to pick up. And even though these problems may not be visible to your naked eye, it will definitely be obvious to professionals, and this is why you need to contact them.
How/Why does mold grow in my fireplace?
All homeowners have probably heard of horror stories regarding other’s finding signs of mold in their homes. While these stories may be slightly exaggerated, they are however, true.
The problem is these stories make it seem that mold is found in basements and abandoned buildings. While this is true, mold can also be found in your chimney and fireplace as well. This is especially if it’s not properly maintained and therefore creates the perfect environment for the growth of mold.
Fireplace mold can develop in anyone’s home. It’s important to know how to prevent it and how to look for signs of the fireplace mold. There are certain sources of chimney and fireplace mold, and it’s important to know what they are in order to prevent chimney mold growth both now and in the future.
So why exactly does mold form in chimneys and fireplaces?
To put it simply, mold requires moisture, and if there are signs of mold in your chimney or fireplace, it’s because something is allowing moisture into that area. There are a few common ways moisture can seep into your fireplace and cause mold, and here are some of them:
- Poor ventilation – Poor ventilation, cracks, and stored condensation in chimneys and fireplaces will ultimately create the ideal environment for mold growth.
- Broken chimney crown – If the chimney cover or crown is damaged, then it can get enough water from the outside to create a moisture-rich environment that ultimately is perfect for mold to thrive. One crack is basically all you need in order to let moisture or water through to your fireplace and chimney area.
- Chimney cap failure – If your chimney cap is damaged from either severe weather conditions, or improper installation, then it won’t keep moisture out of your chimney.
- Non-waterproofed brick and mortar – If the physical structure of your chimney was not properly waterproofed in the first place with sealant, then water is definitely going to seep through from the outside.
In most cases, this damage ultimately leads to the growth of mold slowly but surely over time. Some people never notice it until it’s too late. And this is why it is important to have a professional chimney inspection done at least once a year.
Health Issues with mold in my fireplace
Aside from mold being unsightly, we know that mold is definitely a health risk to you and your family.
The growth of mold will create odors that are unpleasant and stains as well. And if that is bad enough, there are health-related issues with your fireplace mold. Airborne mold spores contribute to a variety of health issues such as skin and eye irritation, respiratory problems, and other long term illnesses.
Certain types of mold, such as “black mold,” are toxic, to say the least, and have been linked to severe issues such as nerve damage and pulmonary illnesses. So if you or a family member already suffer from respiratory issues, then it’s important to learn all you can about mold and the effects that it has on your family.
How do I get rid of mold in my fireplace?
Probably one of the most effective ways to get rid of chimney mold is to contact a professional mold remediation company.
Breathing in mold spores is dangerous and generally, it is not advised that you clean mold by yourself. If the mold growth is inside your chimney, it would require special tools to properly get it out.
However, more than that, cleaning mold without addressing the moisture or leakage issues is just a temporary fix and the mold will come back in time.
A professional mold remediation company will be able to come over to your home and inspect and clean your chimney. Any leaks or moisture intrusion taking up residence in your fireplace will then be taken care of before the chimney is properly sealed.
Alternatively, if you would like to attempt to clean the mold inside your chimney on your own, you are not alone. Many homeowners would prefer to get rid of the mold right away as opposed to waiting for the remediation company to show up.
So even if you would like to get rid of the mold in the fireplace just so that you have the confidence of knowing that it can be done in the event that you cannot reach out to mold mediation company, for whatever reason, the good news is that you can attempt to get rid of the mold on your own.
Mold in your fireplace it’s just like mold anywhere else inside your home, irrespective of whether it is your basement or crawl space. So you would tackle chimney mold the same you would tackle any old mold.
- Step 1: You should start by mixing a solution of 1/8 to 1/4 cup of household bleach with a quarter of water in a pail. At no point in time should you use more than a quarter portion of water in the pail. Put the solution into a spray bottle using a funnel.
- Step 2: Next you want to take a spray bottle and saturate the entire mold-infested area with that solution. Allow it time to stand for approximately three to four minutes or up to five minutes to be on the safe side.
- Step 3: The infested area should then be scrubbed with a stiff bristle plastic brush. A long-handled brush may be necessary in order to reach far up into the chimney.
- Step 4: Rinse the area with a clean rug and use a bucket of clean water to keep rinsing the dirt and mold out. You’re likely to end up with soot or dust inside the water on top off your mold problem.
- Step 5: In this step, you should inspect your hard work, and if you still find traces of mold, then you should repeat steps 1 to 4.
How do I get rid of mold on the brick?
As long as the conditions are ideal which are usually dark and humid environments, mold will grow on any surface.
This is because it’s a fungus and until recently, the recommended treatment for mold was a mixture of bleach and water. And although it is effective in killing mold, it’s not very good at removing the dead mold spores. Dead mold can cause health problems including allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
So if you do discover a mold infestation on your walls, these are the steps you should take.
- Step 1: Put on a mask and gloves to protect your skin and lungs from exposure to the spores.
- Step 2: Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the affected bricks. If necessary use a ladder to reach into high places on the walls and then allow the vinegar to sit on the bricks for several minutes.
- Step 3: Scrub the mold of the bricks using a stiff-bristled brush.
- Step 4: Rince the areas of the wall where you’ve scrubbed with hot water and then spray the affected areas once again. This time, do not rinse it off and allow it to penetrate the bricks. This will kill any mold that is not visible to the naked eye.
I’ve got white mold on my brick fireplace – how to get rid of it
Just like black mold, their sudden reasons or sources that will cause white mold to appear on your chimney and some of these sources are:
Mold needs moisture so it will settle wherever water settles. It’ll also breed in these environments because white mold needs water to reproduce.
Therefore they tend to grow in humid climates. Inside the home, they will be found in damp or poorly ventilated areas such as the laundry room or the bathroom. In order to prevent the growth of white mold inside your home, ensure that each room is well ventilated and this will prevent moisture from building up and pooling.
White mold hates air circulation as well. Most spores are constantly floating around through the windows into your home. So if your home has the proper circulation these spores will simply cycle out of your home. However, when the spores become trapped in a poorly ventilated room, they will make it their home.
White mild will feel right at home in crawl spaces, basements, attics and any room in the home that does not have good ventilation or air circulation. In order to keep this from happening, start attic fans and cross ventilate your home. Outside your home, white mold will grow on bricks that are shielded from the wind.
White mold is common in many environments and will happen to most homeowners at least once in their lifetime. White mold should be cleaned away as soon as you spot it, and if it’s left unattended, it can tend to damage bricks on your home.
The longer it is left to its own devices, the more rapidly it will grow. So to prevent any damages from occurring, they can clean the white mold off the bricks. So be sure to keep an eye on poorly ventilated areas inside the home or those areas that are prone to excess moisture.
Outside your home, check for mold in places that are protected from the wind and this includes spaces behind shrubs and trees as well. Power washers are extra useful for cleaning the bricks outside of your home.
When should I hire a chimney sweep specialist?
Cleaning a chimney on a regular basis is probably one of the best ways to keep your home safe.
In fact, it is recommended that your chimney is inspected at least once a year and cleaned as necessary by a professional chimney sweep. There are many do-it-yourself guides explaining how to sweep the chimney yourself however there are certain advantages to hiring a professional chimney sweep to do the work for you.