Fight allergens lurking in kitchens and baths

While it’s easy to blame seasonal pollen, it may be what’s lurking on the caulk in your bathrooms or kitchens that is causing your family to sniffle and sneeze. Since caulk is placed in moisture-rich areas, it can provide an ideal environment for mold and mildew to accumulate and grow. Mold can cause health issues, including allergic reactions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Protecting the home from the initial growth or reoccurrence of mold and mildew on caulk depends on whether the right caulk is used. That’s because not all mold protection in caulk is equal. Making sure you use a caulk that addresses the whole problem – fungus and bacteria – can help provide you with an effective, lasting defense.

GE silicone caulks, such as GE Silicone II Kitchen &amp Bath and K/B Supreme, because of the level and type of biocide, pack the dual punch of stopping fungus and bacteria growth. The five- to 10-year mold-free product protection that GE silicone caulk offers is among the longest protection on the market today. And, each is permanently waterproof.

“Homeowners need to look for a caulk that has the right type of biocide and one that is permanently impervious to water, helping to ensure that moisture – essential for mold to grow – is unable to leak or collect behind tiles, walls, tubs, showers or sinks,” says Curtis Niles, National Association of Home Inspectors.

If you do decide that it’s time to replace your caulk, it’s important to do the job right to ensure lasting mold protection. Here are a few caulking tips:

* Find the right caulk. Look for 100 percent silicone: it’s permanently waterproof and will never shrink, crack or deteriorate over time. Avoid using acrylic caulk, which can shrink or crack over time. Water can seep through gaps left by cracked caulk. Those leaks can lead to water damage and mold growth. For added protection, choose a caulk with five or 10 year mold-free product protection. If you plan on painting over your caulk, choose a permanently waterproof and paintable caulk like Groov by GE.

* Clean the surface. Remove old caulk, dirt, and loose particles with a caulk-removing tool and wipe clean with a cloth. Never caulk over old caulk. Use a razor blade first to remove the old caulk. By removing the old caulk you can also strip off any mold or mildew that may have formed.

* Prepare the tube and seal. Cut the nozzle to a size that matches the area that needs to be caulked; close to the tip for a smaller area and further down for a larger area. Pierce the inner seal with a stiff wire or other similar object. Insert cartridge into caulking gun. Squeeze with even, consistent pressure to control the rate at which the caulk leaves the tube as you pull the gun toward you.

* Smooth the bead. Use your finger or a wet caulk-smoothing tool within two to five minutes of application.

* Store the tube and clean. Squeeze the caulk until it’s barely coming out of the tube. Replace the cap, or use a nail in the tube opening. Wipe hands with a dry cloth before washing with soap and water. To clean the area around the caulk, use mineral spirits for silicone caulk or Groov.

For more information on caulking products and project advice, visit www.gesealants.com.

Source: ARA/Hillwood Square