How Can I Prevent Mold From Growing In My Home?
Mold spores are all around us, outside and indoors. Mold actually serves a purpose in our eco-system to consume dead organic materials.
Problems with mold arise indoors primarily because our homes are made of dead organic materials, meaning mold can grow anywhere in your home: on carpet, clothing, food, paper, and even in places you can’t see, such as the backside of drywall, areas inside walls around leaking or condensing pipes, and above ceiling tiles.
The simplest way to detect a mold problem is using your own senses. A musty odor is one indication. Not only is mold smelly, but can be many different colors from black and gray to orange and green. Watermarks on the ceiling and walls are also a telltale sign.
There are two key reasons, you should be concerned about preventing mold.
First, mold can be difficult and costly to remove.
Second, mold can produce allergens, irritants, and mycotoxins that can compromise your health. Because mold spores are very small and can easily be inhaled into the lungs, it is harmful to live in a home with high mold levels.
Mold growth can be prevented. Mold growing in your home requires moisture, warmth, and food. Depriving mold of any of these three items will stop it from growing, but it will not kill the mold that is already there. Mold spores will remain dormant, and if the moisture, warmth and food all reappear, mold will begin to grow again.
So what can you do if you’re concerned about mold growing in your home? The key step you can take is to identify any moisture concerns.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with 15 mold prevention tips so that you can proactively prevent mold from growing in your home!
Mold Prevention Tip #1: Audit Your Home For Problem Areas!
It is difficult to mold-proof a home. However, you can take proactive steps to determine if you have problems that could lead to mold concerns.
Does the basement flood?
Do you notice frequent condensation on windows?
Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak?
Is your basement damp?
Does water flow into your home’s foundation?
Addressing these questions may entail some upfront costs to fix, but it will be worth the investment in preventing future mold problems.
It is also important to note that if you are renovating your home or considering building a new home, that you may want to consider researching mold prevention products, including mold-resistant drywall and sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints.
Mold-resistant drywall is recommended because traditional drywall is made up of gypsum plaster core pressed between piles of paper, making it highly susceptible to mold. What this means is that in the presence of moisture and water, traditional drywall acts like a sponge absorbing the moisture leading to mold. Since traditional drywall is so porous, the only remedy to removing the mold is to tear out the drywall.
In contrast, mold-resistant drywall is paperless because the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, meaning it is water-resistant and therefore less susceptible to mold growth. Moisture resistance drywall should be used in bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens because these areas of the home are most prone to moisture.
Mold Prevention Tip #2: Dry Wet Materials Immediately!
Mold can not grow without moisture and given the right conditions, it will begin growing within 24 to 48 hours.
With this in mind, tackle we areas right away.
- Don’t leave wet clothes or other items lying around the house, dry them outside if possible.
- Dry spills on carpet and floors.
- Dry your clothes after washing them by putting them in the dryer soon after the wash cycle is complete.
- If heavy rainfall causes seepage into your basement, make sure you dry the area promptly and contact a company to waterproof your basement to prevent future occurrences.
- If you experience a flood event, dispose of water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can not be dried completely. Ideally, contact a restoration company to manage the clean up and drying process.
Mold Prevention Tip #3: Clean, Disinfect, and Dry Surfaces!
Vacuum and clean regularly to remove possible sources of mold growth.
Pay special attention to bathrooms and other areas of your home that are likely to generate a lot of moisture.
Non-porous surfaces (tile, stone, laminate) can be cleaned well with disinfectants and other cleaners.
Mold Prevention Tip #4: Repair Water Leaks!
Repair water leaks in your roof, windows, or any other part of the home as soon as possible.
Over time, constant leaks will cause moisture to buildup leading to mold growth.
Mold Prevention Tip #5: Use Area Rugs!
In portions of your home that are susceptible to moisture, use area rugs or washable floor surfaces rather than wall-to-wall carpeting. If you use area rugs, launder them periodically.
Mold Prevention Tip #6: Increase Air Flow!
Prevent moisture buildup by increasing the air flow within your home. Without good air flow, excess moisture can appear on your walls, windows, and floors.
To increase air circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets.
In addition, open windows to allow fresh air to flow indoors.
If you don’t already have an HVAC system that has an outside air intake to bring in a steady stream of outside air, consider installing one.
Mold Prevention Tip #7: Proper Ventilation!
Routine daily activities such as cooking, taking a shower, and washing laundry can create excess moisture in your home.
Prevent moisture with proper ventilation.
Vent appliances that produce moisture (clothes dryers and stoves) to the outside, not to the attic or crawl space.
Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer.
Energy-efficient homes are prone to holding moisture inside. For this reason, it is important that you open windows or use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom (especially when you are showering).
Mold Prevention Tip #8: Make Sure Your Storage Room Is Dry!
Most homeowners have a room where they store materials such as books, clothes, camping gear, and other occasional use items.
It is important that you check the humidity of your storage room and make sure that there is no excess moisture because most of the materials you are storing are ample sources of food for mold.
Ideally, use your garage, a well built shed that prevents moisture intrusion, or a dry storage unit and not the inside of your home. Make sure there is air circulating in the storage area as well.
Mold Prevention Tip #9: Control Humidity!
Clues that your home has excess humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture, and invest in a dehumidifier if necessary.
To measure the humidity levels in your home, purchase a moisture meter from your local hardware store.
Ideally, the indoor humidity of your home should be between 30 and 60 percent.
In the winter, it is recommended that humidity levels are below 40 percent to prevent condensation from appearing on the windows.
Mold Prevention Tip #10: Check Your Attic!
Make sure that your exhaust fans are not venting into the attic because this will create excess moisture and lead to mold.
Also, your attic needs ventilation as well, so check this.
Insulation is important, particularly in cooler climates because snow accumulation on the roof can lead to ice damning issues which will cause moisture issues.
Mold Prevention Tip #11: Check Your Crawl Space!
Most homes in the Southern United States have crawl spaces.
Crawl spaces are a breeding ground for mold because there is so much excess humidity.
Mold growth in the crawl space is a particular concern because it will also impact the indoor air quality of your home.
If you find excess moisture or mold issues in your crawl space, then the area should be cleaned properly and the mold removed. To prevent future mold issues, wall-to-wall guide, durable, 14 mil vapor barrier should be installed over the ground and up sidewalls to 6 inches below floor joists. Installation of a dehumidifier will also help control humidity.
Mold Prevention Tip #12: Prevent Basement Condensation!
The cool basement floor and walls can be a source of moisture build-up, leading to mold and that musty smell many encounter in their basements.
To prevent condensation and future moisture issues, improve air circulation, run a dehumidifier, and install a foundation drain.
Ideally, make sure the basement walls are insulated properly to keep the walls warm and limit condensation.
As a final note, if you find that there is moisture intrusion into your basement through seepage, consider hiring a contractor to water proof the area.
Mold Prevention Tip #13: Direct Water Away From Your Home!
One of the best methods to prevent seepage into your crawlspace or basement is to ensure that water around your home sufficiently slopes away from the foundation of your home.
Do not put gardens or plants too close to your foundation so that watering them could cause water to flow toward your house.
If you water your lawn with a sprinkler, make sure the water does not hit your house or the area next to the foundation.
Mold Prevention Tip #14: Keep Your Gutters and Downspouts Clear of Debris!
Debris in your gutters or downspouts could block the flow of water from your roof. To prevent water accumulation, clean your gutters regularly and have them inspected for damage. It is also a good idea to check your ceiling for water stains, particularly after heavy storms.
In addition, make sure the area under your downspouts is properly graded so that rainwater from the roof flows away from your foundation. If the water is not flowing away from the foundation, extend your downspouts.
Mold Prevention Tip #15: Check Your Plants For Mold!
Plants help keep your indoor air clean. Unfortunately, mold grows in the soil of house plants and can also grow on the leaves, leading to higher levels of mold spores in the home. To hinder mold growth in plant soil, add some Taheebo tea to your house plant water in a mild solution. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.
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— Mold B Gone (@moldbgonega) September 27, 2018