In order for mold to grow, it needs both the proper environment and nutrients. Certain conditions like temperature, humidity levels, and light can either promote of negate mold growth. Controlling these conditions is an important factor in preventing fungal growth because the organic material like wood, drywall, and other personal belongings will always be in homes and businesses.
The most important factor in preventing mold growth is definitely preventing water intrusion and moisture buildup. For the most part this is very ease to do and monitor.
As with any other living organism, water is the life blood of mold. Most species of mold need around 24-48 hours of moisture to begin to grow. If anything like wood, drywall, cotton, or any other organic material gets wet within a home you are at risk for it growing mold. There are various ways this can happen and here we hope to identify each of them in an effort to promote prevention.
One way water can enter the home is through structural damage of the building itself. This may be problems with roofs, windows, cracks, or even the foundation itself. Roof leaks may be the most severe of all of these because the environment within an attic is perfect for mold to grow in. On top of that, most people won’t notice a problem until they can see it from inside the house. We suggest journeying into the attic once every 1-2 months in order to take a look around and see if it looks like any water is making its way in; the best time to do this is right after a rain storm. At the same time you do this take a look around your windows and feel for any damp drywall or rotting seals. Leaks through brick, siding are much less common so check for cracks/damage once a year or so. If you have a basement, make sure you venture down there once and a while to check it out. Just like with attics, many people never go down there and problems go unnoticed for extended periods of time.
Leaking pipes can cause big problems when it comes to mold growth. Since pipes are within walls, slow leaks give mold alot of time to grow without getting noticed. One situation that we see alot is in kitchens behind cabinets and fridges. Another scenario that people should know bout is large buildings like apartment complexes that have water mains running up and down the entire place. If these pipes start to leak or sweat you may notice growth on the walls inside your apartment. If you see anything that could be an indicator of a plumbing issue, act immediately.
Condensation through rapid changes in temperature can also cause moisture indoors. Condensation forms on cold surfaces when water vapor in the air cools and becomes liquid. Often you’ll see condensation on metal pipes, concrete walls, water tanks and windows. The best ways to prevent this are by keeping a consistent temperature/humidity levels throughout your indoor environment. Having insulation on walls, ceilings, and metal pipes is vital in minimizing condensation. Also if you do have a drastic change in temperature because of something like an air conditioner malfunction or leaving windows/doors open for long periods of time, you need to gradually bring the temperature down. Don’t change it from 85 to 70 right away; instead change in 5 temperature increments, let it settle for 30 minutes or so and then make another change.
Most mold needs temperatures of 70 degrees or higher and over 55% humidity before growth can start. Having a home below 70 degrees is a bit on the cold side, but keeping it in the low 70s will help keep humidity low, especially in warm climates. An air conditioner acts as a natural dehumidifier, so keep it on so it can do its job. Make sure you have the appropriate size air conditioner for your home, bigger is not always better!
If you notice certain areas of your home to be extremely humid and prone to mold growth, it might be wise to place a dehumidifier in that area. These are most commonly recommended for basement, closets, or rooms that are not fully insulated.
When an air conditioner is not running or a room does not have vents for it to access, proper ventilation will help prevent mold growth. Open windows/doors and having exhaust fans in places like a kitchen or bathroom will accomplish this task. Also understand that if it is hot and humid outside and you are opening windows/doors you are opening up the opportunity for mold growth.
Early we touched on how mold needs organic material to grow. Well dirt, dust grease, and oil is exactly what we are talking about here. If you keep your house clean of this type of debris, it will go a long way in preventing mold growth. Who wants to have a dirty home anyways?
Mold cannot grow under ultraviolet light. Keep rooms well lit by having lights on and window shades open to allow this light to work its prevention magic. It is not a coincidence that the worst mold problems are found in closets, attics, within walls and other places it is dark.
Hopefully this will help you prevent mold growth within your home and/or business. If you have any questions or are experiencing a mold related problem and would like to speak with a representative from MI&T, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 855-600-6653.