6 Ways To Prevent Mold From Invading Your Home
Mold is all around us, and in every breath we take. It is a fungus that plays an essential role in the natural process of decay. Mold is also necessary for creating things like penicillin, cheese, and decomposing the piles of fallen leaves and dead trees in the forest.
It can grow year-round in almost every environment. Mold spores spread quickly in the air and can grow anywhere there is moisture and organic matter for it to "digest."
Outdoors, mold likes shady, damp places or anywhere vegetation is decomposing. Mold colonies thrive indoors where humidity levels are high, like basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, and poorly ventilated areas. Carpet, clothing, food, paper, drywall, ceiling tiles, and wood are common surfaces mold likes to grow in people's homes.
It is impossible to eradicate mold from your home completely. However, it is crucial to keep the mold levels low to prevent it from growing and becoming a problem in your home.
SERVPRO is the industry leader in mold remediation. No matter how large or small, our technicians are trained to handle any kind of mold problem. However, we would rather help you prevent mold from becoming a problem in your home. Here are some easy things you can do this fall to avoid a mold issue.
Proper ventilation is key
Many of our daily activities can encourage mold to grow in our homes. Anything from cooking dinner or taking a shower to washing a load of laundry can cause moisture to build up in your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry rooms.
Make sure all the high-moisture areas in your home have proper ventilation. Appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers and stoves should have vents to move moist air to the outside. Install exhaust fans in the bathrooms and make sure to run them every time you shower.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers help with moisture control, especially in humid climates. However, have them inspected and cleaned regularly to make sure they don't contribute to the moisture problem.
Open the windows when you cook or wash dishes to circulate drier air through your home, especially on days with low humidity.
Energy-efficient homes are excellent at reducing your heating and cooling costs, but they may be holding moisture inside your home by preventing airflow. Before the emphasis on energy-efficiency, homes were "leaky," allowing air to move through the walls more easily. This helped prevent mold from growing because damp surfaces like wood and insulation dried easier.
Now that homes are designed to be more air-tight, it is essential to have proper ventilation to control the indoor humidity levels. Keep doors between rooms open and move the furniture away from walls and corners to let air move more freely around your home.
Use mold-resistant products in your home
If you are building a new home or renovating an old one, choose mold-resistant products, especially when it comes to materials like wood, insulation, drywall, carpet, and sheetrock. These building materials have a fungicide treatment that kills all types of fungus as it tries to grow on the surface.
Mold resistant drywall contains fiberglass facing instead of a paper facing. Therefore, there is no organic material in this type of drywall for mold to feed on. Even though fiberglass facing could still allow mold to grow, the chances of this happening are significantly reduced.
Mold resistant paint will not kill mold, but it will prevent mold from growing behind walls for up to five years. There are many options on the market to suit a variety of budgets and specific needs.
Rugs and carpets can harbor colonies of mold in the fibers or under the surface. Mold-resistant carpets use acrylic fibers that are more resistant to fungus growth. The disadvantage of mold-resistant carpets is that the material tends to wear out faster than traditional rugs and carpets. But, if you or your family have allergies or strong reactions to mold, or if you live in a particularly damp environment, mold-resistant carpets may be a worthwhile investment.
If you notice areas that are often damp or prone to mold growth, consider applying a mold-resistant sealant. It is a protective fungicide coating that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including wood, brick, and stucco. The sealant will prevent mold from growing even in humid conditions.
Monitor humidity levels
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent to prevent mold growth and other moisture-related problems. Purchase a "hygrometer" moisture meter from your local hardware store and install it in a "problem area" in your home.
There are also tell-tale signs of excessive moisture in your home. The most common symptoms are condensation buildup on windows, walls, and pipes, and musty odors. Make sure to turn off any humidifiers and dry the surfaces immediately if you notice condensation. Try to identify the source of the moisture (an air vent that is not working, poor air movement, etc.) to address the root cause and avoid a mold problem. If this is a common problem, invest in a dehumidifier.
Air conditioner size matters
Make sure your air conditioning unit is the right size for your house and climate. An air conditioner that is too large will cool the home too fast and won't remove enough moisture from the air. If you live in a very humid climate (like Tennessee), consider adding a dehumidifier to the central air conditioning system. Another option is to use portable dehumidifiers in chronically damp areas of your home.
Keep water away from your foundation
Make sure the landscaping and ground around your house slopes away from the foundation of your home. Otherwise, water can collect and seep into the basement or crawlspace, creating a dark, damp environment for mold to thrive. As your home and the soil settles, the slope will change. Rebuild the soil each spring to make sure it slopes away from the foundation. Experts recommend building a slope of 1 inch high per foot in length.
Make sure the gutter system is clean and in good condition. The downspouts should move water at least five feet away from the foundation to prevent water from pooling around your house.
If gutters and a slope are not enough to keep water away from the foundation, your lawn may require a dry well. Dry wells are holes in the ground filled with gravel. They help water to return to the ground without pooling or flooding on the surface.
Contact SERVPRO to clean mold
Small mold patches are easy to clean off hard surfaces with heavy-duty cleaning products, but it is essential to identify the cause and resolve the underlying problem. Whether it's a small area, major mold issue, or anything in between, SERVPRO professionals are equipped to identify the source and cause of the mold problem. Then they will properly clean the area and restore your home to its original, healthy condition.
Because mold spores travel by air, it is important to use the right equipment when cleaning mold to avoid allowing it to spread to other areas of your home. SERVPRO technicians use technology like negative air chambers to contain the mold and high-quality air filtration systems with "air scrubbers" and HEPA vacuums to prevent the mold spores from spreading while they clean and disinfect the area.