Mold is a common problem that homeowners and property managers alike face. Not only can it cause damage to your property, but it can also be detrimental to your health. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent mold growth in your home. In this blog post, we will discuss some simple yet effective ways to keep mold at bay.

What conditions contribute to mold growth?

Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in damp and humid conditions. Mold is a part of our natural environment and plays a crucial role in speeding up the decomposition of organic matter outdoors.  Mold spores should be avoided indoors as they can cause various health problems. Mold can grow on multiple surfaces, typically moist absorbent or porous materials. This includes walls, floors, furniture, and even clothes. The main reason for mold growth in homes is excess moisture which can be due to leaks, condensation, or high humidity levels.

Why is mold growth indoors harmful?

Mold exposure can cause health problems. When mold spores are inhaled or touched, they may trigger symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic lung illnesses can get serious lung infections when exposed to mold.

How can I prevent mold growth in my home?

EPA Infographic and the best way to control mold1. Control Moisture Levels

Mold thrives in damp environments, so one of the most effective ways to prevent mold growth is to control moisture levels in your home. Regularly check problem areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. If you find moisture in these areas, consider using a dehumidifier. Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or showering to reduce humidity levels. You can prevent mold by taking these simple steps to air out your home and eliminate sources of moisture.

2. Fix Leaks and Moisture Issues

Mold needs moisture to grow, so any leaks or moisture issues in your property should be addressed promptly. Here’s what you should do:

  • Repair any plumbing leaks immediately.
  • Check your roof for leaks and repair them as needed.
  • Inspect your property for water intrusion and ensure proper drainage around your home’s foundation.

2. Improve Ventilation

Ensure air can circulate freely throughout your home by using fans and keeping doors and windows open when the weather allows. Install vents in moisture-prone areas, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms, if possible. Regularly clean and maintain these vents to ensure they function properly. Encouraging indoor air flow makes your home much more inhospitable to mold.

3. Monitor Indoor Humidity

Maintaining indoor humidity levels below 60% is essential for mold prevention. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in your home. If the humidity exceeds 60%, take steps to reduce it. This can include dehumidifiers and venting your home by opening doors and windows.

You can also use air conditioning or heating systems to control humidity. Blasting your AC can cool the air in your home and reduce humidity since AC units take moisture from the air during the cooling process. Turning up the heat in your home can also reduce humidity since heating the air lowers the relative humidity. As the temperature of the air increases, the air can hold more water molecules, and its relative humidity goes down. Another method of sapping humidity consists of placing moisture-absorbing materials like desiccants (like a silica gel packet) in closets and other areas with limited airflow.

4. Properly Insulate and Ventilate Attics and Crawl Spaces

Attics and crawl spaces are often overlooked areas when it comes to mold prevention. Ensure proper insulation and ventilation in these spaces to prevent moisture buildup. Consider installing vents or fans if necessary. You can also place desiccants in attics and crawl spaces to control moisture. Regularly inspect these areas for any signs of leaks or water damage that could lead to mold.

5. Clean and Dry Water-Damaged Areas

If you experience any water damage in your home, it’s crucial to clean and dry the affected areas promptly. Mold can start growing within 24-48 hours of water exposure, so time is essential when facing a leak. To clean the affected area, use a brush or sponge and a mixture of water and detergent and scrub the area thoroughly. Afterward, ensure the area is completely dried using fans or dehumidifiers.

6. Ensure Proper Insulation

Inadequate insulation can lead to condensation and mold problems, especially in colder climates. Snow and ice melt can seep in through your roof or siding and cause problems down the line, especially since moisture let in through these areas can be easily overlooked. Ensure your property is well-insulated not only to prevent moisture but also to keep your house temperature controlled and comfortable. This includes:

  • Insulating your walls and attic properly.
  • Installing weatherstripping around doors and windows.

6. Use Mold-Resistant Materials

When renovating or building your home, consider using mold-resistant materials. These materials are designed to resist mold growth and can be particularly useful in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Examples of products that have been made to be mold-resistant include drywall, sealant, caulk, paint, and flooring.

7. Regularly Clean and Maintain Your Home

Regular cleaning and maintenance can go a long way in preventing mold growth. Dust and vacuum your home regularly to remove any potential food sources for mold spores. Pay special attention to areas where moisture may accumulate, such as window sills and bathroom tiles. Additionally, regularly inspect and clean your HVAC system, ensuring proper airflow and preventing condensation.

8. Reduce Clutter

Clutter can restrict airflow and make it easier for mold to hide and grow. Keep your property organized and clutter-free, especially in areas where moisture is a concern. This not only prevents mold but also makes your space easier to clean and maintain.

woman standing in front of wall with mold and talking on cell phone

I found mold in my home. What should I do?

If you find mold growing in your home, don’t panic. Certified Restoration has written a comprehensive guide on dealing with mold in your home that takes you step by step through how to clean up a mold infestation. But generally, to deal with mold indoors, one would:

  1. Identify the areas of your home with mold
  2. Find the source of mold-causing moisture and eliminate the excess moisture
  3. Wear the appropriate protective wear
  4. Clean and remove the mold with a scrub brush and a solution of water and mild detergent
  5. Dry the area thoroughly
  6. Discard affected materials
  7. Take steps to prevent mold from returning by reducing moisture in your home.
  8. Monitor and maintain your home for reoccurring mold growth.

If you’re interested in more not-so-light reading on this topic, the WHO has a comprehensive booklet that dives into the WHO guidelines for indoor air quality, which heavily covers the topic of mold. This booklet is available for download here

Need Help Now?Preventing mold in your property is crucial for maintaining a healthy living environment. These proactive steps can significantly reduce the risk of mold growth and its associated problems. Regular maintenance, proper ventilation, and controlling moisture levels are key to keeping your property mold-free. Remember that preventing mold is about property maintenance, controlling moisture, and safeguarding your well-being and your loved ones.