Mold growth in homes can be a persistent and damaging problem. Not only does it compromise the structural integrity of your property, but it also poses health risks to you and your family. The mantra that people should remember is “mold is the symptom and water is the problem” Fortunately, with proper preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of mold taking hold in your home. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore effective tips and tricks to prevent mold damage and create a healthier living environment
There are naturally occurring mold spores in the environment that are always present in the air we breath. When a surface becomes wet for a period of time, ether by water or humidity (greater than two days), then these naturally occurring spore can germinate. They will continue to grow and produce new spores until the environment reduces in moisture to a point they cannot grow anymore. They just go dormant; they don’t die, they just stop growing. Food sources are cellulose containing materials such as wood, paper, cotton, paint and many fabrics. They will even grow on varnish and leather products.
Once mold finds a suitable environment with moisture and a food source they will continue to grow until either the food or moisture is no longer available. Common areas where mold is found include bathrooms, basements, attics, and areas affected by water leaks or flooding. Also, an average 4 person family will generate around 3 gallons of moisture a day through cooking and showering and breathing. All of the moisture in an average home must evacuate out through the attic.
Timeline for Mold Growth
These are the typical timelines for mold growth. Don’t be surprised If you see different timelines published by others, or the moisture contents that are discussed here, different organizations report their own findings in technical literature.
- 48 hours of elevated moisture to allow for the germination of naturally occurring spores
- 9 days after germination, the colonies will be mature enough to allow for the new colonies to manufacture their own spores.
- Thus, 11 days after the initial elevated water event, the colonies will be mature enough to release their own spores into the environment with will magnify the amount of microbial contamination in the home.
The key to preventing mold is to maintain low moisture conditions in your home. Here are some tips to help you keep moisture in check:
- Repair any water leaks promptly: whether from a pipe, a foundation wall, or from the roof.
- Maintain proper attic ventilation: most houses have a roof design that has intake at the soffit and exhaust through the ridge vent. Check to see they are both working correctly.
- Ensure fans that are meant to evacuate moisture from an area such as a kitchen, bathroom, laundry dryer is actually discharging outside the home (and not the attic).
- The number one cause of a water release in America is the water line that is attached to the refrigerator ice maker. Make sure this is not leaking behind the refrigerator.
- Keep the indoor humidity levels below 65%. Consider using dehumidifiers in high-humidity areas to maintain optimal moisture levels. Place monitoring meters in the center of an area rather than on an exterior wall. Cover sump pump wells with a lid and control the production of moisture in the in the home, but the particularly that are in the basement.
- To prevent condensation you can increase the temperature of the home by 2 degrees, lower the amount of moisture in the air by life style or mechanical means, or place a thermal barrier over the areas that are allowing water to condense.
- After taking a shower, allow the bathroom fan to evacuate the humid air for at least 10 minutes.
Construction Considerations in Preventing Mold Growth
In addition to controlling moisture by your actions and maintenance, there are several preventive measures you can take to assure your home is in good working order to prevent moisture build up:
- Maintain proper attic ventilation and inspect the area at least once a year.
- In the northern states, apply insulation to the foundation walls of the crawl space and have the HVAC ductwork provide air supply and return to treat the air in the crawl space as part of the home.
- Regular cleaning your home removes dust and debris that can provide a food source for mold.
- An average person sheds 2 grams of skin cells a day. It is estimated that half of the dust in a home are skin cells. This high organic material is a source of food for mold and dust mites.
- Although there are mold-resistant products, preventing elevated moisture is the best way to avoid mold growth. However there is mold-resistant drywall and paints that can be used in areas such as bathrooms.
- Indoor plants are a source of airborne microbial debris that can be observed when analyzing indoor air quality samples. It is not recommended for people that are sensitive to mold or have a compromised immune system to have plants in your home.
- If you have a humidifier on your HVAC unit, have your HVAC contractor inspect your unit annually. Air filters in a normal HVAC unit should have a MERV rating of between 8 and 10; the higher the number the greater the filtration. However, over a value of 10 and you run the risk of burning your motor out from the pressure drop across the filter. Inspect your HVAC system every few months because it is the heart of your home by cleaning the air and treating it for temperature and humidity.
- Some organizations recommend you have your HVAC ductwork cleaned every 5 to7 years. If you do this, then before they are cleaned, cover the supply and return vents with filter pads so dislodged debris from the ductwork does not enter the house.
- Items stored in the basement or crawl space should not be placed in a cardboard box and placed directly on the concrete floor. Place items in plastic containers. If you need to use cardboard, then place it on a sheet of plastic, or on an elevated location off the floor.
- Preventing elevated moisture that results in microbial growth in your home is essential for maintaining a healthy living environment and protecting the integrity of your property. By implementing methods to maintain low moisture conditions, confirming proper attic ventilation, and adopting preventive practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold growth and improve the indoor air quality of your home. Remember, it is better to use Farsight than Hindsight and early intervention is crucial when it comes to preventing mold growth.
If you suspect mold growth or require professional assistance, consult Farsight Management! They are a certified mold remediation specialist and can ensure proper assessment and safe removal. Together, let's create a mold-free environment and promote a healthier home for you and your loved ones.