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Mold, nature's by-product of excessive rainfall

It seems like its been raining every day for months. And while the Denver metro area has received a significant amount of rainfall this year, it has yet to break a record.

In fact, just rainfall in May lifted the Denver-area to above-average levels for the first time this year.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Barjenbruch said Thursday that Denver International Airport has gotten 3.66 inches of rain in May. That’s more than double the amount of precipitation that fell in the first four months of the year. Experts say the area has a more than 2-inch surplus of rainfall, with more slated to fall.

But all that rain isn’t necessarily a good thing. The excess moisture breeds bacteria and mold and that can be hazardous to your health. Mold is the enemy within; it can form behind walls, on top of ceiling tile and fill your house not only with a foul smelling odor but also with toxic spores and fumes. You don’t have to see mold to feel its effects.

There are some steps you can take, however, to keep yourself and your home safe.
Clogged or faulty rain gutters can cause excessive water leakage through the walls, roof, and foundation of the home. You can clean your rain gutters with a light broom, a garden hose with a controllable-spray nozzle, or by using one of many gutter-cleaning devices on the market.

Adding perforated covers over your rain gutters will cut down on the frequency of cleaning. Rainwater and some dirt/small debris can permeate the cover but large debris, such as large leaves and twigs, cannot. These covers can typically be found in a local hardware store for only a couple of dollars for about every 4-feet of length.

Make sure your gutters’ downspouts are properly cleaned too. Spray water into the gutter or the top of the downspout to ensure it drains freely and with no obstructions. Water must also be diverted away from your home’s foundation.

In cold weather, leaks caused by ice dams occur when warm, heated air from the home begins to migrate through the insulation and into the attic area of the house. Without proper ventilation, this warm air collects in the attic area and may warm the underside of the roof decking. You may not see these during the winter, and the leaks could get worse with each passing summer storm.

The Centers for Disease Control cites a 2004 Institute of Medicine Study and lWorld Health Organization literature from 2009 that supports a link between large amounts of mold and mild to severe reactions, including headache, nasal congestion and respiratory complications.

The CDC lists guidelines to restrict mold growth, including:

  • Keep humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent in the home.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air-conditioners.
  • Fix roof, wall and plumbing leaks.
  • Remove water-logged carpets and dry flooded areas within 24-48 hours after occurrence.
  • Make sure exhaust fans are installed in areas of high humidity such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Insurance agents say the financial toll of recent hailstorms in Colorado is in the millions of dollars. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association says the insured damage to cars and homes in Colorado alone is estimated at $165 million.