Mold is sneaky! Mold is opportunistic! In fact, if mold growth is left untreated or undetected it will harm the structure of your home, your business and your health! Once mold has taken up residency within your home, or building envelope, it can become very difficult to completely eradicate. Mold spores spread quickly, and are so microscopic, that it may become very difficult to remove them entirely from the air, and from hidden surfaces within your home or business. Because of the difficulties linked with mold growth, and the costs typically associated with professional mold removal/remediation, the best approach is to prevent the mold from even starting to grow to begin with, and prevent it from taking up residency as an uninvited guest!
So, is there an answer to “how to prevent mold growth”? Absolutely! The most important key to preventing mold growth from starting within your home or business is through proper building maintenance and moisture control. Mold thrives on moisture, so in order to ward off unwanted mold growth, you need to limit the availability of its most important food. Here are some tips on how to prevent mold growth through effective moisture control and regular building maintenance:
1) Control humidity levels within the building: In most Canadian cities, ideal indoor relative humidity levels are 35% in the winter and 50% in the summer. ASHRAE specifies a range between 25% and 60%. High humidity levels can result in condensation within the building structure and on interior surfaces and the subsequent development of mold and fungi.
2) Dry any wet areas within the building immediately: As we said before, mold can’t grow without moisture, so if we remove its food source by drying wet areas right away, we are seriously limiting the opportunity for mold to grow and flourish. Get a leak? Fix it and dry it ASAP! Spill something? Dry it right away! Make sure to wipe away visible condensation from windows or shower areas and make sure not to leave wet items on floors or carpeting!
3) Check your roofing system regularly: When our roofing systems are compromised, leaks may occur! This is a hot spot for mold growth and can create an issue that may quickly spread to other areas of your home or business. Make sure to take a peek in your attic every now and again to make sure no visible signs of moisture of mold are present. If found, roof leaks should be addressed immediately to help prevent mold growth and future moisture intrusion.
4) Prevent foundation issues with properly directed downspout extenders: The eaves and downspouts of your building are designed to direct the flow of water away from your roofing system and the structure. When the downspouts do not have proper extensions on them, they direct water directly into your buildings foundation, and if cracks are present, this water may be going directly into your home. Extenders should be attached to downspouts in order to direct the flow of water at least five feet away from your foundation.
5) Make sure fans are properly vented to the building exterior: When a fan is present in your kitchen, laundry or bathroom and it is not properly directed to the building exterior, moisture can build up and mold can result. Ensure that and fans within your home are properly directed to the building exterior and do not vent indoor or into the attic!…and if properly vented…make sure to run that bathroom fan every time you shower!
6) Got a leak? Fix it!: When dealing with a potential mold issue, its essential to resolve the underlying condition that might be present that can contribute to mold growth. If a toilet, drain or tub is leaking, get it fixed, and don’t forget to dry any wet or impacted building materials immediately!
7) Dust & Vacuum regularly: Mold loves dust! In fact, it is a nutrient for mold that can help it spread and grow! When mold spores enter into your home, through a door, window, or attached to people or pets, those spores will settle on building surfaces and get kicked back up into the air with only a little movement or air flow. Reduce the amount of mold spores present through regular cleaning and vacuuming….preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Also, using HEPA air filters and regularly changing your air filter within your HVAC system will help to reduce and remove mold spores from the air.
Don’t let mold be the uninvited guest in your home or business! Every environment will have some mold spores present indoors, but the key to preventing those spores from proliferating and turning into an indoor mold contamination is to limit moisture intrusion and conduct regular building maintenance. There is no “one size fits all” solution to preventing mold growth….each environment is unique, so it is crucial to know your surroundings and make sure to address potential issues as soon as they arise. If your unsure whether or not mold has already started to grow and proliferate, a professional mold inspection and mold testing service can offer the information you need!