For homeowners, foreseeing major disasters like fires, storms, or earthquakes is easy enough. In fact, many even combat such disasters by taking preventative measures in the forms of insurance, emergency kits, generators, etc. One disaster most homeowners do not foresee, however, is mold. Not only is mold harmful to your home, it’s also harmful to your health. Mold is a disaster waiting to happen.
What is mold?
Mold is a tiny fungus that consumes dead matter. As such, molds play the perfectly natural role of decomposer in the outdoors; indoors, however, it’s anything but perfect and natural. Inside, mold will slowly destroy just about every element of your home including woods, carpets, and furnishings. In fact, mold can grow on practically anything in your home provided there is enough moisture in the area. Mold reproduces by emitting microscopic spores that float through the air. As you can imagine, too much mold in the air can adversely affect humans. Not only is mold is a known allergen, but it is also a cause of asthma and other respiratory conditions. If not properly controlled, mold can cause major problems for your home and its inhabitants.
Preventing Mold Damage
Homeowners who find themselves in particularly wet or humid climates are much more susceptible to mold damage. This becomes particularly relevant during the cold winter months when a) precipitation is often prevalent and b) large temperature gaps from indoors to outdoors create perfect conditions for condensation. Additionally, mold damage is inevitably a side effect of flooding. Unfortunately, many people assume that simply cleaning and getting rid of mold will solve the problem; however, removing mold will not remove the problem, just prolong it. To effectively rid your home of mold, you must address the source of the moisture.
Controlling moisture is the key to controlling mold. Generally, this is done in one of two ways. First, effectively dry and fix any leaks, spills, or other unintended instances of moisture. Second, utilize proper ventilation and air circulation in known moisture-prone areas. For instance, most homes are equipped with fans in places known to produce a lot of moisture, i.e. the bathrooms and kitchen. These fans take humid air and direct it out of the home into the outside air.
Using Fans Effectively
Effectively using fans to prevent mold growth in your home requires proper fan use and maintenance. First and foremost, many residents neglect to even use fans while cooking or in the shower, so make sure to utilize the ventilation fans you do have. Next, if you notice particular rooms in your home aren’t ventilated properly, consider installing a ventilation fan, especially in every bathroom. Then, regularly clean your fans as over time dust and/or grease build up, reducing their effectiveness, not to mention creating a fire hazard.
Furthermore, pay attention to where specifically your fans vent to the outside. For instance, if a vent exits the home just under an eave or sheath, that area will be more susceptible to mold damage because it consistently traps the moisture you’re removing from your home. Also, extreme caution should also be exercised with old homes where vents often lead into the attic. The steam or condensation that is routed there stays in the attic space, essentially trapped in a perfect environment where mold damage can run rampant.
Finally, in addition to employing the use of fans, here are a few other suggestions to consider for preventing mold damage. The EPA recommends the following:
- Open doors and/or windows to increase ventilation.
- Keep indoor humidity low; increase air temperature.
- Notice condensation and moisture as it collects on windows, walls, or pipes. Dry the wet surface and attempt to reduce the source of water or moisture.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
As I mentioned earlier, mold is a disaster waiting to happen. If you’re a homeowner, make sure that you’re employing appropriate methods to prevent mold damage. Act quickly to rid moisture from any surface in your home; swiftly but effectively neutralize its source. And don’t forget to use your fans.