How to Prevent Mold in Your home
Mold is unsightly, so I want to teach you how to prevent mold from growing in your home. This can be a problem for homes that are often left vacant for extended periods of time. Without adequate airflow, it’s easy for mold to get a foothold and start growing profusely.
Before you can plan your attack, you need to understand your enemy. To understand your enemy, is to understand its weaknesses and strengths. You can then manipulate either to your advantage.
Knowledge is Power!
First, we need to understand:
· What is mold?
· What causes mold?
· Why does mold occur?
· Where will mold start?
· What are the precautions?
· Are there toxic varieties?
What is Mold?
Mold is a fungus. That means that it’s neither plant, nor animal.
Mold doesn’t need sunlight to survive, sunlight actually stops it from growing. So, how do they survive? (You might be thinking) Mold consumes whatever surface it lands on.
The sole purpose of mold is to speed up the decomposition of organic matter. That could be anything from wood, leaves, fruit, vegetables and animals to whatever else they (Mold Spores) land on.
What Causes Mold?
There are a couple of things that cause mold, but the main culprit is humidity. But before we get ahead of ourselves, here are the common causes of mold.
Humidity Causes Mold
When the weather is hot and humid for an extended period of time, you might notice mold growing in your home.
When it rains continually for several days on end, it's common to see mold growing on walls, benches and other surfaces because of the humid air. If you live in a place where humidity is naturally high:
At the Coast
Near a Lake
Close to a Stream
Near Large waterlogged Plantations
Near dams and rivers
Mold growth may be recurring problem.
In your Home
When moisture evaporates in your home it increases humidity levels. If your home isn't well ventilated the humidity will remain high for a constant period of time. This can be ideal conditions for mold growth.
Common ways that you probably unwittingly increase humidity in your home:
Drying clothes indoors
Bathing and showering
Some mold varieties only need humidity at the 55% level to start growing. So if you have to do any of the above, get yourself a humidity meter, then, make sure to keep humidity levels under 40%.
High humidity levels mean that wet items in your home will take longer to dry, giving mold ample time to grow and spread.
We want you to prevent that.
Leaky Pipes Cause Mold
Leaky water-pipes hidden in your walls are a common cause of mold. They aren’t visible for inspection so leaks may go undetected for a long time before showing visible signs.
During that time, mold has most likely grown.
Roof Leaks Cause Mold
Leaking roofs may lead to water dripping into your ceiling or attic. The dripped water may go undetected until there are visible signs of mold growth.
Regular inspections of these places is necessary. Be on the lookout for signs of water damage or mold.
Any of these signs will indicate that you have leaking roof.
Condensation Causes Mold
Any cold surface will cause condensation. Humidity from the surrounding air comes into contact with the cold surface, water molecules cool and fall onto the surface in their liquid form.
As the humid air remains in contact with the cold surface, more and more water vapor cools and attaches to the existing water on the cool surface, forming water droplets.
These droplets are what we call condensation.
Where condensation occurs, it most likely seeps into carpets, wood, cracks or anywhere else the water can make its way.
The still standing water is a prime growth area for mold.
Poor Ventilation Causes Mold
Poor ventilation in your home can cause humid air to stay trapped in pockets distributed in different areas of your home.
Mold loves humidity and warmth.
Areas like the bathroom and kitchen are two places where poor ventilation is often a problem because of the high steam levels produced during bathing and cooking.
The best way to ventilate a home is to open windows, but where these aren’t an option, extractor fans are a necessity.
Poor ventilation leads to slower drying of clothes and surfaces. So it’s imperative that you ensure there is enough airflow in your home.
Mold thrives in unventilated areas with a high humidity level.
Wet Clothes Cause Mold
Clothes can hold a lot of water. If you leave them out to dry in a poorly ventilated area within your home, mold can grow on them. The water evaporating from your clothes will add to the humidity levels in your home.
Don’t let wet clothes be left in bundles, it will be easy for mold to grow.
Using a tumble-drier that doesn’t have an exhaust duct leading outside, will also cause humidity levels to be increased in your home.
Flooding Causes Mold
If your house is flooded, it’s almost guaranteed that some mold will develop. The problem is, it takes several days or weeks for a flooded home to completely dry out.
Mold only needs about 24 - 48 hours on a suitably wet surface to start growing.
The problem with a home being flooded, is the extended time period that surfaces will be moist. It makes perfect growing conditions for mold. This may also give more toxic varieties the opportunity to start growing.
Mold in the Basement
Basements are often not well lived in areas. They’re often left in the dark, are poorly ventilated and not part of the hot air circulation system in the home, which means that it’s also colder.
Any condensation, leaks or humidity in the upper reaches of the home, will often settle in the lowest part of the home – the basement.
Because of this, mold is often found growing in basements because of poor ventilation, humidity and a lack of light.
It probably won’t be detected until it is well established.
Water in the Foundation
If water is allowed to drain towards your home and not away from it, you may end up having multiple foundation problems.
One of the problems can be the growth of mold, starting in the darker recesses where there is little light and just the right moisture content.
The mold can then quickly multiply and grow between cracks into the home, in walls, along pipes or through cracks in the foundation and sills.
The best thing you can do, is make sure that water drains AWAY from your home.
So we covered a bit of ground, getting to know what mold is. Now that we understand what Mold is, let’s have a look at the conditions it loves!
The prefect Conditions for Mold to Thrive in
Every organism needs, warmth, a certain degree of light and water to survive. Some need food, while others simply need the right surface to land on, then they build colonies and harvest what they need from the atmosphere.
Let’s learn what Mold needs:
What are the perfect conditions for mold?
What surfaces are ideal for mold?
What does mold need to survive?
What are the Perfect Conditions for Mold?
Mold needs 3 basic things to survive and thrive:
1- Mold needs a humidity level of 55% upwards.
2- A temperature of approximately 25-30C.
3- It needs a surface to land on, it can be any surface
If mold has these three conditions, it will multiply.
What surfaces are ideal for Mold Growth?
Mold seems to prefer certain types of surfaces over others, but when choices are limited, they will make do with whatever is present.
Here are some surface they are often found on:
Wet cellulose materials
Paper and paper products (including cardboard)
Wood and wood products are commonly covered with mold
Fabric (upholstery is regularly found to contain mold)
There are other surfaces where mold will grow, the above list refers to the most common surfaces where mold has been found growing profusely.
What Does Mold Need to Survive?
Mold is a fungus whose spores travel through the air. They travel through the air and look for a suitable place to land and grow.
It takes a single microscopic spore to land on an organic surface to flourish and multiply under the right conditions.
Once the mold spores feed on the right nutrients they swell and form hyphae. Hyphae quickly spread, making black mold splotches.
Indoors, mold can discolor property, destroy and weaken structures, cause illness and spread a musty, pungent odor throughout the building.
Certain Types of Mold are dangerous to your health when growing within spaces that you inhabit.
You’ll want to rid you home or building of mold the moment it’s found.
Scientists have identified over 100,000 mold species, out of which 80 are harmful to humans.
Mold falls into its own category of living organisms, since it is neither an animal, plant nor bacteria.
Of all the mold species, each can be roughly categorized into one of three types: allergenic, pathogenic and toxigenic.
Allergenic molds may cause allergies to flare up but don’t necessarily cause illness; pathogenic molds may cause infection in people with immune system deficiencies; and toxigenic molds are toxic to anyone who comes in contact with their spores.
Despite mold causing illness, mold also provides numerous benefits.
Mold breaks down biomass.
Molds are also cultivated to make medicine, like penicillin.
What Surfaces Does Mold Grow On?
Homes offer plenty of nutrients for mold to grow, so just about any surface in a home may be a good place for mold to grow. Let’s have a look a little more in depth at some of the surfaces mold grows on.
Any organic matter, ie: all biodegradable things, like paper and leather for example, can be a good food source for mold.
Mold finds nutrients in food, cockroach excrement, dust mites and can even live off skin flakes.
Mold can be found behind wallpaper, under carpeting or even growing on and in leather couches.
Mold grows in all areas like these:
Wallboards and ceiling tiles
Fabric, clothes, drapes
Books, paper, cardboard
Paint, wallpaper, decorative embellishments
Household dust, skin flakes, wood chips, sawdust
While mold cannot grow on inorganic materials like glass, concrete or metal, mold spores will still be able to thrive on any dust present on these surfaces.
As with most living organisms, once a food source is present, spores also need moisture to survive.
Mold spores absorb moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. When sufficient humidity is present, mold will grow and expand their colonies to extend to all parts of a property where sufficient food and moisture are present.
A dark, wet basement is the ideal breeding ground for mold spores to settle and find ample nutrients to start a colony.
A leaky water-pipe provides a convenient water source for mold.
When a roof leaks, the water seeps into the surrounding walls; in turn, mold finds all the nutrients it needs to start a colony.
We’ve already mentioned humidity and warmth in the home above.
Mold spores cannot grow in subfreezing temperatures. They need an ambient temperature between 25-30 degrees Celsius to thrive.
That’s why you’ll never see mold growing inside a freezer.
Cold areas don’t guarantee the prevention of mold. But warm areas inside a home, along with humidity and food, can provide the right conditions for mold growth.
Mold needs oxygen to survive.
When an organic food source is present with humidity and oxygen, mold spores feast.
It takes approximately 48 hours for mold to build a substantial colony.
Mold is part of a natural cycle. It has it’s place in nature and has it’s uses, but in a home, it is a pest that needs to be prevented.
Get Rid of and Prevent Mold from Growing in your Home
Whether you’re a Home or Business owner, you cannot escape mold, but you can limit the growth of mold.
Steps to stop the spread and reduce mold:
Get yourself a humidity measurement device from your local hardware store.
Reduce humidity in your home to a level between 30 and 60 percent. (this will stop it spreading)
Search for any water leaks or places where water has collected and caused damage in your home. When you find them, fix them ASAP. (removing water will kill off the mold spores, if you don’t remove the water, the mold will just bounce back when water is present)
If the mold infestation is bad, you may need to call in mold remediation experts. Speak to us about our list of suppliers and we’ll get you good rates from our partners.
As soon as the mold is removed have the technicians perform air quality tests to ensure the property is safe to inhabit.
How to Prevent Mold in 25 Simple Steps
1. Get a humidity measuring device
2. Keep humidity between 30-60%
3. Keep the Ambient Temperature well below 25 Degrees Celsius indoors
4. Check for Water Leaks Weekly
5. Fix any Water Leaks Immediately
6. Don’t leave bundles of damp clothes on the floor
7. Ventilate your home often
8. Don’t leave wet clothes hanging in the home to dry
9. Make sure your dryer ventilates outside
10. Install an extractor fan in your bathroom
11. Have an extraction fan installed in your kitchen
12. Inspect your roof for leaks at least once a month
13. Fix any leaking taps immediately
14. Check for water collecting around your foundation monthly
15. Where you have water pipes in walls, make sure they are insulated
16. When you discover condensing surfaces, reduce the humidity
17. Don’t leave bowls or other water containers standing around indoors
18. Keep wood chips, paper, cardboard and other items outside