Can mold growth be prevented? The answer is yes. However, since the ingredients for mold growth lies almost everywhere, mold growth prevention lies around moisture control. It may not be fair but in this world, moisture equals mold.
Mold needs three things in order to grow: food, oxygen and water. Being that the first two ingredients are present just about everywhere, we have to take the necessary actions to prevent water intrusions and high humidity levels. These can be things as small as regularly drying and cleaning bathrooms after use, to as big as fixing leaks in the ceiling within 24 hours of intrusion. These actions can be taken as a family affair by making it a habit for the family to keep closet doors cracked open and using ventilation when showering. On chosen days, the entire family can also help with a deep clean of the home. Regularly cleaning surfaces and appliances that doesn’t receive much attention on a daily basis can go a long way with mold growth prevention.
As hinted above, mold food is just about everywhere in your home. However, there are some places that are more common than others.
- Carpet: Carpet mold usually happens due to floods, leaks or pet urine. It usually grows beneath the carpet and only becomes visible when the contamination becomes severe.
- Walls: Mold on walls usually happens due to plumbing and roof leaks. Active growth on walls can begin on the wall(where visible), inside of the wall or behind the wall. Growth inside and behind the wall is usually more dangerous because by the time you see signs of growth, it usually means that the contamination may be pretty bad. Signs of active growth includes: peeling paint, discoloration and bulging.
- Basement: Basement mold is usually caused by basement floods and condensation from metal pipes during winter months. Active growth usually begins on carpet, exposed wooden beams or on the walls. Stored items and furniture in the basement usually have active growth.
One of the biggest rules in mold growth prevention is to dry up and solve any leaks, floods, standing water and any other form of water intrusion immediately. These water intrusions only take between 24 and 48 hours to become a problem. If you find a water intrusion within your home or business, take the necessarily steps and call professionals as soon as possible. If the professionals cannot come out quickly, start taking steps yourself.
For example: If there is a leak under your sink, make sure there is a container catching the leak and be sure that the container does not overflow. Swap out container often to be sure that a large amount of water is not standing for an extended period of time. During the swap, be careful to keep water from leaking onto the floor of the cabinet. Most of these areas are made of wood and mold loves wood. If you have another form of intrusion, the professionals who you call should be able to provide you with tips on minimizing damage until they’re able to fix the problem.
More Mold Growth Prevention Tips
Since it’s spores are apart of the oxygen that we breathe, there is no way to completely remove mold from an environment. However, even though scientifically there is no such thing as mold-free, we can create an environment that is mold-safe. Listed below is a list of mold growth prevention tips that will allow you to protect your family, yourself and your home.
Set the fan mode switch of your air conditioner thermostat to the “AUTO” position.
The “ON” setting will allow the fan to continuously blow. When this happens, condensated moisture on the coil while cooling, doesn’t get a chance to drain outdoors. This causes the moisture to continuously cycle through throughout the home. Also, as more condensation builds up on the evaporator coils, the amount of moisture being circulated continues to rise.
Use exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen.
Without exhaust fans, the steam created while cooking and taking showers will buildup, condensate onto materials and create damp feeding grounds for mold to grow. To prevent this, experts recommends the use of exhaust fans during these activities. Allow the fan to run for at least 20-30 minutes after cooking or showering. Also, make sure that none of these ventilation systems are directed into the attic, which sometimes happens. Check out this attic mold article which explains why this should never happen.
What if I don’t have a ventilation system in my kitchen or bathroom? If you do not have a ventilation system in place, open a window during these activities. Also, similar to the exhaust fan, remember to leave the window open for at least 30 minutes after. If your home doesn’t have neither, we would suggest that you have one installed. This could save you lots of money in the long run.
Direct water away from your home or business.
If water is not properly directed away from your home, you have the risk of the water leaking into your basement, crawlspace or foundation. There are a number of prevention tips that can be taken, such as installing a gutter, cleaning full gutters, adding extensions to downspouts, creating barriers, digging trenches, building dry wells and more. Home Guides offers some great tips and insight on drawing water away from your home.
Replace air filters regularly.
An air filter that is full of dust and particles is the perfect feeding grounds for mold. If your filter becomes contaminated, spores will spread throughout your home at an excessive rate. It is ideal to change air filters every 2-3 months to prevent the buildup of dust and particles.
Minimize the number of live plants in your home or business.
Plants are moist and need to be watered continuously. The water evaporates and they require more water. When there are a large number of plants evaporating inside of your home, it is likely that the humidity levels inside of your home are pretty high. Also, the plant’s soil is always moist and likely to grow mold itself.
What if I’m a plant-lover?
Well, there are additional steps that you can take as a plant lover. The first is to get a dehumidifier and use it regularly. This will collect some of the humidity as the water evaporates. Also, you should try a solution that hinders active growth in the plant’s soil, such as Taheebo Tea.
Maintain a healthy airflow.
When the airflow within your home is not good, you will likely get condensation. Sometimes this condensation is noticeable, such as on the windows. Other times you won’t know until it creates a problem. This moisture buildup usually happens on windows, ceilings, walls, floors and mirrors. However, it is not limited to these surfaces. To prevent condensation buildup within your home, you will need to create an environment in which the air circulates freely. You can do this by leaving internal doors ajar, moving heavy furniture away from walls, running ceiling fans, using exhaust fans, opening doors / windows, etc.
Eliminate clutter in front of heating & cooling vents.
When there is clutter, such as a stack of card board boxes, blocking heating & cooling vents. This cool air can create condensation on the material and create the perfect feeding grounds for mold. Experts recommend that you to completely clear your home of clutter often to prevent many other possibilities.
Buy an indoor humidity monitor and keep humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent. However, we’d advise going for 50 percent to add an extra layer of safety. Hardware stores usually have humidity monitors to determine humidity levels. If your home has a high humidity level, we’d recommend purchasing a dehumidifier, cutting down on the number of plants, changing your thermostat settings to “AUTO,” using ventilation systems or using which ever mold growth prevention tips best describes your situation. If all fails, you may need to call an expert before problems begin to emerge.