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Surviving Mold In Your Attic

Surviving Mold in Your Attic

Is Mold in Attic driving you a little batty?

Well, it did me and here are some common areas that can be addressed to keep mold from growing in your attic and providing you and yours a safer environment in which to live and breath in.

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Causes Of Attic Mold

Causes Of Attic Mold

Home ownership has many advantages but it poses some challenges as well. To make the most out of your investment, you are gonna want to keep your home free of mold and in the best condition possible.

One such challenge of home ownership is the likelihood of mold growing in your attic at some later date. And, the resulting removal of the mold growth and mold spores is absolutely necessary to protect the health and well-being of your family.

Attic mold is most often caused by moisture build-up in a poorly ventilated area. You can check your attic space for moisture by looking at the nails; if there is excess moisture in the atmosphere there will be rust around the nails.

This indicates there is a ventilation problem in the space, which may be caused by improper venting from your bathroom, kitchen, and dryer fans.

You can avoid this issue by checking to make sure all vents are directed outside of the structure instead of terminating in the attic space.

The heat flow from these sources will already naturally rise, and when this warm air meets the cool air of the attic space it condenses creating moisture.

Additionally, weaknesses in the barrier between the roof and attic space(s) may increase the amount of moisture in the attic from ice damming or a failing barrier and allowing prevalent moisture to seep into the ceiling and walls adding to the potential for mold growth in the attic space.

frozen gutter

As a general rule, you will not experience significant mold growth in your attic during the summer months due to the high temperatures that are NOT conducive to mold growth.

And, short of any major leaks going on upstairs, the heat generated from the roof will generally dry out any rising moisture and push it back to the interior of your home and/or out through your roof vents.

Attic Mold Prevention

The biggest way to help prevent the growth and build up of attic mold is to eliminate or reduce the amount of moisture in your attic space.

Here are a few helpful tips to help ensure you’re reducing the amount of moisture allowed to enter the space:

  • Look for Roof Leaks. A roof leak is a sure way to guarantee you will someday have a mold problem. Check the roof for discoloration at the joints or any place where two different types of material meet; this can indicate areas conducive to allowing excess moisture into your home. You can also help prevent mold infiltration by repairing or replacing any deteriorating spots on the roof.
  • Look for Roof Leaks. A roof leak is a sure way to guarantee you will someday have a mold problem. Check the roof for discoloration at the joints or any place where two different types of material meet; this can indicate areas conducive to allowing excess moisture into your home. You can also help prevent mold infiltration by repairing or replacing any deteriorating spots on the roof.
  • Check for raised shingles. When shingles become brittle and dry, like mine last summer; they are subject to nails pushing the shingles upward and exposing the interior joists and other structures of the interior roof. High winds can also push old and damaged shingles upward and allowing mother nature to put a real whammy on the interior of your home!
  • ​Ensure you have good Ventilation in the attic. Proper ventilation is crucial to preventing mold! Because some moisture is inevitable, keeping the air moving through the attic space will help reduce moisture build-up and keep your attic free from mold.
  • ​Check Ventilation for warm air sources. Keep warm air vents ventilated to the outside of the structure. When warm air rises into the cool air of the attic space it condenses creating moisture, this is especially true if those warm air vents terminate in an enclosed space instead of outside in the open air.
  • ​Beware of any gaps where moisture can enter. Mold in Attics are due to excess moisture in the area, so you need to be mindful of where in your home there may be sources of unwanted moisture. A few common culprits are skylights, moisture barrier (check for condensation), duct work, plumbing components, and insulation (check for missing portions or sagging).

While far from being an exhaustive list this should provide you with the more common causes of excess moisture. By eliminating these potential problem areas you’re giving yourself the best shot at Attic Mold Prevention.

Common Types Of Attic Mold


There is a plethora of mold in the environment every day. Most of the time it goes unnoticed until it causes a problem; here are a few of the more common types of attic mold you may encounter: pink molds (such as aureobasidium), white molds, yellow molds (including serpula lacrymans), blue-green molds (like our good friend penicillium), and black molds.

You may very well encounter any of these types of mold, but black and white molds tend to be the most commonly seen attic molds.

Black Mold In Attic


Black mold occurs where there has been excessive moisture build-up without proper ventilation. Often called “toxic black mold”, the toxic label is a mischaracterization of this type of mold.

While black mold is linked to a variety of allergy-like symptoms, it is not truly “toxic” and mostly just causes poor indoor air quality.

The poor air quality can lead to some discomfort such as skin irritation (if skin is exposed to the mold), eye irritation, nasal congestion, wheezing, upper respiratory tract symptoms, and cough.

People with allergies, lung disease, or who are immunosuppressed may be more sensitive to these symptoms and can be more susceptible to fungal lung infections.

The mere presence of black mold doesn’t mean you need to vacate your home, but you may wish to seek the advice of your physician if you fall into one of the more susceptible groups.

White Mold In Attic


White mold is also a common mold you may find in your attic. White mold can be difficult to differentiate from efflorescence, which is a common, mostly cosmetic, build-up of salt deposits from water seepage.

To distinguish between the two first, check the type of material you see the build-up on. If it is on concrete or masonry it’s efflorescence; a similar looking pattern on wood or drywall is likely to be white mold.

Much like its biological cousin black mold, this type of mold is associated with some minor health problems, including, allergy-like symptoms, coughing, and eye or skin irritation.

Should you encounter white mold in your attic removal is of paramount importance, but rest assured that you shouldn’t face any lingering ill-effects once the problem is removed.

How To Kill Attic Mold Naturally

Now that you’ve confirmed you do in fact have mold growing in the attic; getting rid of the attic mold is the first priority.

In many cases of minor growth and where the infested materials do not need to be completely replaced; it is possible to use Earth-friendly methods to naturally remove the mold in an eco-friendly manner.

Here are a few tips to try to rid your home of attic mold without using harsh chemicals.

  • Dry it Out! It bears repeating time and again that moisture equals mold. If you have a mold problem in your attic, the best first step is to dry out the offending space. This is particularly important if you have had a recent deluge of moisture in the attic due to a leaky roof.
  • Clear the Air! Mold spores travel through the air before coming to rest on a surface suitable for growth. Installing a high-quality air purifier can help reduce the amount of mold spores that are able to drift around in the air of your home. The principle here is simple, reduce the number of spores–reduce the amount of potential mold growth.

How To Get Rid Of Attic Mold With Tea Tree Oil

  • Oil it Up! For those who once thought essential oils were only good for making the house smell great, there’s another helpful use. And, you can find many essential oils that act as a natural fungicide.
  • A good one to use is tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil); mix a few drops of this oil into a spray bottle with water to spray onto the offending surfaces. If you choose this method, be sure to shake the bottle well because the oil and water will naturally separate.

This technique will help to kill molds that are already there, but is equally effective to prevent mold growth in the first place.

If you dislike the smell of tea tree oil you could also try grapefruit seed oil for the same effect without the tea tree aroma.

How To Kill Attic Mold With Vinegar

  • Pickle the Walls! Well, not exactly “pickle”, but that wonderful kitchen cleaning stand-by white vinegar is a natural antimicrobial making it a perfect all-natural way to remove mold from your attic.
  • Simply mix half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle and spray onto the moldy surface. For stubborn molds, you may wish to use a stronger dilution of vinegar to water. Much like the essential oils, this method will begin to kill mold that is already in place and helps to inhibit future growth.

How To Remove Attic Mold With Alcohol

  • Buy it a Drink! Mold does not like alcohol (specifically distilled ethanol), not even the good stuff, so go ahead and get the bottom shelf for this unwelcome guest. Often the lower-priced alcohols (go with a vodka—it has less odor than other spirits) are not distilled as much as higher-costing alcohol that contains a substance known as congener contained within—these natural byproducts of the fermentation process are lethal to fungus.
  • Seal it Up! Moisture is mold’s best friend, so be sure to seal up any potential spot(s) where water can seep into your attic space. Vents should be well-sealed and vent to the outside of the structure; you can also double check skylights or any other place where there is a possible entry point for moisture to seep in from the outside. These are a few steps you can take for Attic Mold Removal to help eliminate this unwanted guest naturally and effectively.

Attic Mold Remediation

Can be a costly endeavor. And, particularly if the mold growth has damaged the underlying construction material.

One of the main things to keep in mind when removing mold from your attic space is that the mold is there because of an underlying moisture problem; therefore, the first step should be to locate the source of the issue and repair it accordingly to avoid future growth.

If the mold has penetrated deep into the host surface you will need to remove and replace the building material, but be sure to then pre-treat the new surface to prevent future mold growth.

There are many methods to remove the mold if the underlying material doesn’t need to be replaced. All with varying benefits and associated costs.

How To Remove Attic Mold By Power Sanding


One such method is power sanding and wire brushing. This technique works well in smaller areas where the mold has not penetrated into the underlying material.

And, if the mold growth is in difficult to reach areas such as in joints, then dry ice blasting is a useful method. Just make to sure to gear up safely with the appropriate mold removing PPE or personal protection equipment before diving in).

The equipment for this technique can be very costly in time and money. And, it may even be prohibitive to the best of you DIY’ers. It is useful to keep in mind that getting rid of mold in your home, may very well be worth the cost of hiring a professional.

Other blasting methods use various media to remove mold from attic surfaces including sand, soda, corn cob, dry ice and walnut shell.

How To Get Rid Of Attic Mold By Dry Ice Blasting

These are effective methods and the equipment costs far less than dry ice blasting though the technique can sometimes be harsh to the existing surface.

Here is a short video of some mold in attic removal techniques using dry ice pellets to blast away the mold on the interior of the attic space.

Dry Ice Blasting the attic effective but costly

Attic Mold Remediation Cost can be expensive, ranging anywhere from as little as $500 to as much as $4,000; but if the mold damage is extensive and runs throughout the entire home, it could easily end up costing up to $20,000 to $30,000.

Having a sound mold prevention and maintenance program in place will go far in keeping mildew and mold growth out of your attic.

Also, by reducing mold in attic spaces, you will breathe healthier air on that next trip upstairs to dig through those old boxes!