Dealing with Mold and Mildew in the Bathroom

“Mold and Mildew are common occurrences from time to time.  However, you can get rid of it and take steps to prevent it in the future.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

How to Get Rid of Mold in Showers — and Everywhere Else in Your Bathrooms!

What is mold? And why is it in your bathroom? Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. AHS is here to help get your bathroom mold problem under control.

girl looking at black mold in bathroom tile

Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. The presence of mold can cause health problems, including coughing, skin and eye irritation, and serious lung infections in people that have breathing problems or other chronic illnesses. Some level of mold is always around in your house, due to the outside mold spores coming and going. But if you discover mold in areas with moisture, warmth and darkness — like your shower — there are things you can do to keep that shower mold (and bathtub mold) under control. Let’s look into ways to control and prevent mold in bathrooms.

What is mold?

We hear a lot about mold these days. But what is mold? It’s not a plant or an animal; rather, it’s a type of fungi. Mold spores are very small and light, and they actually float in the air. This is what allows them to spread and be inhaled. All molds, including the dreaded toxic black mold (in bathrooms and other areas of your house), can feed on organic building materials found in your house if they have been exposed to the right environmental conditions: moisture, warmth and darkness. What are some common spaces with these conditions? Attics, basements and crawl spaces, to name a few, especially if there are roof leaks or leaking water and drain pipes. The showers and tubs in your bathrooms also provide what mold needs to grow, when the conditions are right. There’s, off course, moisture from the water you use to bathe and shower, not to mention the warmth –– unless you’re into cold showers –– and subdued lighting. In a nutshell, your home could easily make for a “home sweet home” for mold.

Why do we have mold issues these days?

As homes and buildings are being designed and built for more energy efficiency, they are more airtight. This traps the warm, moist air inside. Without proper ventilation, mold could likely be a problem.

How do you get rid of mold?

Although mold can grow in virtually any conducive conditions, it especially loves to grow in the grout of the shower, which is porous and holds moisture longer than the tile, as well as around the shower drain. The same goes for bathtubs and sinks.

The first thing you want to do when it comes to knowing how to get rid of mold in showers and other bathroom areas? Assess the damage. If your mold problem covers less than 10 square feet, you should be able to handle it on your own. (If it’s a larger area, you need to call a professional as soon as possible.) And if the grout around your shower, tub and sinks is compromised — that is, broken, cracked, missing sections, overrun with mold, etc. — you’ll need to remove it and recaulk after the mold is removed.

Next, gather these supplies:

  • Product(s) that claim to kill mold: bleach, white vinegar and many other commercial cleaners
  • Baking soda
  • Nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge with a scrub pad on one side
  • Large bowl or plastic bucket (if you are mixing your own solution)
  • Spray bottle (if you are mixing your own solution)
  • Dry towel or paper towels
  • Caulk (if necessary)

American Home Shield® Insight: If you are planning on using bleach or a commercial cleaner, open a window or run the ventilation fan. You should also wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from fumes. Likewise, never mix bleach with other cleaners.

Now, let’s get to the cleaning:

  1. Scrub –  Before using chemicals, you might try just scrubbing with a damp sponge. If there isn’t much mold there, this might be the ticket.
  2. Mix –  Otherwise, mix a solution of one part bleach to two parts warm water, and fill your spray bottle with it, if you aren’t using a pre-mixed commercial cleaner. If you are using a commercial cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions on the container. Looking for a non-bleach and non-commercial alternative? Try white vinegar –– either straight or diluted with water.
  3. Spray –  Spray generous amounts of your cleaning solution on the areas of visible mold, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Scrub again –  Scrub the areas with the nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge.
  5. Rinse –  Rinse the areas with warm water from another spray bottle, a very wet cloth or from the shower head or faucet.
  6. Paste –  For tough areas, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Apply the paste and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
  7. Scrub again –  Like before, scrub the areas with the cleaning utensil and rinse them clean with clean water.
  8. Dry –  Dry all surfaces with a dry towel or paper towels.
  9. Caulk – If you had to remove your caulk before cleaning, now’s the time to recaulk. Pay special attention to the instructions on the caulk tube about how long you must wait before you can use your shower, tub, etc., again.

How do you prevent excess moisture in the future?

If you have an operable window in your bathroom, open it and leave it open for a while after showering. Note: This is not a solution, however, if the air outside is very hot and humid. The bathroom vent fan should also be running during baths and showers and for thirty minutes afterward. In addition, air conditioning systems reduce humidity. The goal for relative humidity in your house to keep mold at bay is 50 percent or less. If you struggle to reach that percentage, a dehumidifier will also do the trick. And, of course, wiping the surfaces down after using them will certainly help. Remember: Moisture is one of the top requirements for mold.

What does light have to do with mold?

Fortunately, light is one of our weapons against mold. Open those blinds. Replace heavy curtains with something more sheer. Let the light in. Many of our showers are at the end of a dead-end bathroom with no window. If this is the case, you may have to use artificial lighting, or consider putting in a skylight. Also, keep the shower doors open or shower curtains drawn back to allow light into the shower –– when you’re not using it, of course. Basically, try to avoid creating a dark environment for mold to thrive in.

How can you prevent mold from growing?

Once your bathroom is squeaky clean, keep it that way. Spray or wipe the shower and bathtub surfaces with a solution of white vinegar and a little water. You can add a drop or two of essential oils to lessen the vinegar smell, if you’d like. And if you want to keep mold from becoming your unwanted bathing partner, make sure you do this quick and easy chore at least once a week.

How To Clean Your TV Screen

“Smudges on TV Screens happen.  But when they do, what’s the best way to clean them?  Here are some great tips from American Home Shield on how to do that.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Do You Know How To Clean a TV Screen the Right Way?

Spots and smudges are not what you want on your television screen. AHS can help you get your tv screen spot free, improving your viewing pleasure.

Cleaning a tv screen

The picture on today’s TV screens is better than it has ever been. Are you old enough to remember static and purple people? Having to constantly adjust the color and rabbit ears? If you are, then you know that the clarity today is truly amazing. You also likely know that if your TV is not brand new, the picture could possibly be even better.

Likewise, it’s no secret that electronic devices, including televisions, have a way of attracting dust. There are, however, a few guidelines for how to clean a TV screen properly. Just as important as what to clean it with is what not to put on a TV screen. Here are some things to keep in mind to safely remedy the dusty TV screen and get back to that amazing picture clarity.

First, Know Your TV Type

There are many confusing designations for the types of TVs used today: CRT, LCD, LED, OLED and Plasma. It is always a good idea to first consult your owner’s manual for cleaning instructions or go to the manufacturer’s website.

For Older CRTs…

Cathode Ray Tube TV’s have been disappearing since the early 2000s. These are the TVs that are the size of large microwaves. You may still have one. If so, the screen on one of these is all glass. And because of that, you can clean it the same way you clean your glass windows. Note that this is the only type of TV in which commercial glass cleaner is safe to use, though.

… And All the Rest

Plasma TVs also have glass screens, but they also have an anti-glare coating. This makes the cleaning instructions the same as the more sensitive LCD, LED and OLED TV screens. NEVER use glass cleaner or any commercial cleaner that contains ammonia, alcohol or any abrasives. If you do choose to use a commercial TV screen cleaner, make sure it states on the label that it doesn’t contain these harmful ingredients. In most cases, however, a clean, soft, dry cloth, like a microfiber cloth, is all you need. Even paper towels may scratch the screen.

Next, Turn it Off

Before you start cleaning, turn the TV off, or even unplug it, and let it cool down. This will reduce the risk of static shock. An additional benefit of cleaning the blank screen? The dust will be easier to see.

Now, You’re Ready to Clean

If you use a dry cloth, move it in a circular motion like waxing a car. Apply very light pressure –– remember, these screens are pressure sensitive. Make sure you don’t push it off of its perch, if it’s on a shelf or stand. And turn the cloth over as you clean, to always ensure you’re wiping new areas with an unsoiled part of the cloth.

Have stubborn fingerprints or stuck-on dirt? You may have to use a liquid. Start with distilled water, though, and just dab a little on the cloth. If necessary, you can mix a very weak solution of mild dishwashing soap and water. Never spray anything directly on the screen, as that could result in unwanted streaks on the screen. If you use a spray, spray it on the cloth.

7 Important Repairs to Make Before Selling Your House

“If you want to help make your house sell quickly, these are several key items that you must address if you want to attract the best buyers.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team 


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Key Measurements to Make the Most of Your Bathroom

“Winter is a great time to be planning your renovations.  Here are some great tips if you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

How to Find a Good Contractor

“Finding a good contractor can be tough.  We have worked with many over the years and can help, but this article gives great tips on question to ask when getting initial estimates.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Originally published by American Home Shield

How To Find A Good Contractor: Top Questions to Ask During the Repair Inspection

Finding a reliable home repair contractor is important. Learn what questions to ask to screen contractors before work is ever done and how to evaluate the repair.

questions to ask repairman

When it comes to an issue in your home — especially a broken appliance — it’s important to know how to find a good contractor to ensure the repair is made accurately and efficiently. Here’s what American Home Shield suggests asking home repair contractors vying for your business to build a better sense of awareness and experience during the repair inspection.

What Familiarity Do You Have Working With This Issue?

Of course you want to find home repair contractors with experience. That goes without saying. What you really need to assess, though, is each potential contractor’s experience with your issue at hand, in particular.

How Long Could the Repair Take?

If something in your home isn’t working — especially something that you use on a daily basis —  you want that product to be repaired quickly. Ask how long the repair will take so you can make necessary adjustments to your routine to accommodate the problem.

Is There a Guarantee on the Repair?

There’s nothing worse than getting something repaired only to have it mysteriously stop working or malfunction again shortly after. Ask if there is a warranty on what is being repaired, so you’ll know if another breakdown in the near future will, in fact, cost you even more money.

Are There Any Simple Repair Tricks I Could Do If This Happens Again?

If you could easily fix the problem yourself, it could obviously save you time and money. Ask if there is a DIY repair trick you should consider in the future rather than calling a professional, if you feel comfortable in your DIY abilities.

How Much Will It Cost?

Cost of repairs is one of the most important things to know upfront. If you can’t afford the repair, finding out as soon as possible could help you find alternatives. At AHS®, we connect our customers with a network of contractors at a discounted price. Therefore, considering a home warranty could save you time that would otherwise be spent looking for a repair person as well as money, since we have those discounts and contractor connections. And communicating the pricing upfront will ensure you won’t see surprises on the invoice later.

Would It Be Cost-efficient to Replace Whatever Isn’t Working Properly?

Why fix an appliance if the repair cost exceeds the price of buying a new one? Make sure to ask for all suggestions and prices as they relate to your repair. Also, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research. Surprisingly, it may be cheaper to simply start over with a new appliance.

Related: Money Matters: Budgeting for Unexpected Home Repairs and Expenses

Bonus Questions (to Ask Yourself)

  • What overall impression did the contractor give you?
  • Did the repair person show up when you were expecting him or her?
  • Did you feel like he or she was being honest?
  • Was he or she being respectful of your home? (For example, did the contractor mention anything about cleaning up after the job is done?)
  • Did the repair person document your conversation, to ensure he or she received all the details?

7 Holiday Events that Better Your Community

“The holidays are a perfect time to get together with others in your community.  Here are some great ideas that can bring you together.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

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How to Care for Your Christmas Tree

“If you’ve put up a ‘Live Tree’ you want it to last as long as possible, and you don’t want a ton a needles to clean up during and after Christmas.  Read on for tips on how to care for your tree.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team 

A Fall Checklist of 10 Things You Gotta Do Before Winter Sets In

“Now that the weather is turning colder be sure that you are ready before the winter freeze.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

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When to Switch from Cooling to Heating

“It’s probably finally too cool to leave the A/C on, but is it cool enough to turn on the heat?  Read on to see what makes sense according the experts.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Originally posted by American Home Shield 

Turn on the heater or turn off the A/C? As summer becomes fall, temperatures fluctuate from hot to cold. Use these tips to keep heating and cooling costs in check!

Temperature changes outside

Whether you choose to describe it as being “up and down” or as “running hot and cold,” as a homeowner, you know that autumn weather can be unpredictable. Autumn temperatures that veer between extremes can make keeping your home comfortable a real challenge. As the season’s warm days turn into cool nights, how do you avoid running back and forth to adjust your thermostat — or even switching back and forth between your air conditioning and heating systems? Here are some tips to help when switching from cooling to heating as the seasons change.

  • Change your filters regularly. Your air conditioning system has gotten you through the worst of the summer, but September and early October can still be torrid. Don’t tax it any more than you have to. To keep your HVAC system running efficiently, change its filters regularly. Consider these general guidelines for filter changes.
    • If your home is occupied by multiple people and pets, change your filters every 30 to 45 days.
    • If your home is occupied by multiple people and only one pet, change your filters every 60 days.
    • If your home is occupied by multiple people but no pets, change your filters every 90 days.
  • Get an automatic or programmable thermostat. If you don’t already own a programmable thermostat, hire a professional to install one. Set the baseline temperature within your home to ensure your preferred level of comfort, then back off that temperature setting by a few degrees, especially for those hours of the day when you aren’t actually at home. According to the United States Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year in energy usage (and on your utility bills) by making smart adjustments to your thermostat.
  • Pile on the cozy bedding.This may seem low-tech, but that’s just another way of saying it’s a tried-and-true solution. If your house feels a little too cool at night, snuggle up under an extra blanket or two until it’s time to turn on the heater full-time.
  • Have your heating system serviced.Before completely switching from cooling to heating, have a professional HVAC technician make sure your heating system is operating properly before the full blast of winter arrives. During this inspection, have the technician check for any signs of carbon monoxide leakage. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is potentially deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year nearly 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 4,000 Americans are hospitalized due to carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Make sure your home is sealed.Check around your windows and doors for drafts. If you feel air moving or a disparity in temperature in these areas, use caulk or weather stripping to block the exchange of air between the interior and exterior of your home. Improperly sealed homes can easily cause your energy bill to increase by as much as 10 to 15 percent.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heaterYou can save between 3 and 5 percent in energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the high-temperature setting on your water heater. Keep your hot water simmering at about 120 degrees and insulate your water heater and its exposed pipes to reduce heat loss.
  • Change out your light bulbs.As the days grow shorter and nights longer, replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs that use less energy and have a longer lifespan. Non-incandescent bulbs also give off less heat, meaning cooler temperatures inside a well-lit home during those days when winter still seems a long way off.