Sometimes, a little mold is a good thing. For example, if you’re making blue cheese, or brewing a Lambic-style beer, mold is a key element. However, in your home, if left unchecked mold can create serious problems. Mold has been in the environment for literally millions of years. It can enter your home through windows, vents, open doors, or your HVAC system, and if the conditions are right, mold can proliferate.
While most people focus on its appearance and smell, exposure to high levels of mold can cause serious health problems. For some people, mold can cause minor symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, burning eyes, or a stuffy nose. People who are immune-suppressed, allergic to mold or have breathing issues like asthma, may have severe reactions. Immune compromised people with chronic lung disease may get infections in their lungs.
So what can you do if you’re concerned about mold growth in your home? The best solution is to prevent mold before it becomes a problem. The key to preventing mold growth comes down to one simple solution: moisture control.
In this post, we’re going to look at several ways to control moisture levels in your home to help prevent dangerous mold growth.
According to EPA studies, the typical indoor environment is two to four times more toxic than our outdoor environment. In fact, in some cases, indoor air measurements are 100 times more polluted. One of the most insidious causes of indoor air pollution is mold.
While you can mold-proof your home, you can make it mold resistant. Start by taking an audit. Where are the potential problem areas? Does your basement flood after heavy rain? Do you see condensation on an attic window? Is your roof leaking?
Once you have identified problem areas, fix them immediately. Start by fixing any leaks in your home’s plumbing, walls, or roof, to remove the sources of moisture that mold needs to grow.
Once you have fixed any serious leaks and problem areas, you need to begin to take steps to prevent mold from growing in your home.
Once you’ve identified and resolved any major moisture issues, there are several simple steps you can take to ensure your home remains mold-free.
• Moisture is the enemy! Keep the humidity levels in your home as low as possible – maintain 50% or less humidity all day long. A dehumidifier or air conditioning can help. Purchase a meter at a home improvement store to check your home’s humidity levels.
• Be sure air flows freely throughout your home. Use exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen that vent outside your home. Make sure your clothes dryer also vents outside your home.
• In a flood, clean up and dry out your home quickly – within 24 to 48 hours. If it is a major flood, call a professional!
• Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting your interior walls. You can purchase mold inhibitors at any home improvement store.
• When you clean your bathrooms and kitchen use mold-killing products.
• Avoid using carpets in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
If you’d like to learn more about preventing mold in your home both the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency offer information on how to prevent dangerous mold growth. Finally, take the time to educate yourself on your region’s climate. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for preventing mold. Knowing what works for your climate and home is an important first step!