It's wet, it's cold, do you have a problem with mold?

mold, preventing mold, indoor air quality, black mold, condensation in home, humidity levels

Its winter! Its wet! Its cold! And it’s the time of year that you may be experiencing problems with mould in your home!

The thought of mould makes many people cringe. Mould spores spread easily and cannot be completely eradicated. Mould can cause allergens and irritants that may compromise your own and your families health.

The best approach is to control the moisture levels in your home. Avoiding excess moisture in the air will prevent mould from growing in the first place.

In wet, cold, wintery climates like we experience here in Yarra Valley, it may be hard to avoid the excess moisture in the air – especially as some older homes may be poorly designed and not have sufficient ventilation or light. Below we will list 10 things that you can do to control moisture levels indoors, and the mould that grows as a result.

1. Recognize the problem areas of your home and correct them. You can't mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Conduct a FUN self-audit of your home 😉 : where are the problem areas? Does the laundry flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on windows? Are there water stains on the ceilings?

Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be more costly down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.

2. Dry wet areas immediately. Mold can't grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away. A puddle of water from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. If you've experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can't be completely dried. Even everyday occurrences need attention: don't leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry — preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.

3. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation. It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn't invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and any other high-moisture area. Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and ensuring they are serviced regularly by a licenced professional. New homes have a higher energy rating, making them more air tight, so simply opening a window when cooking, washing dishes or showering, or running an exhaust fan may be necessary.

4. Equip your home with mold-resistant products. Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like cement sheeting, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional plaster is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Not only is traditional plaster more susceptible to mold, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the plaster is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth. Choosing Aluminium windows over timber can not only save you time and money on maintenance and upkeep throughout the life of your home, but it can also eliminate mold.

 5. Monitor humidity indoors. The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store. You'll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture.

6. Direct water away from your home. If the ground around your home isn't sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your foundations.

7. Clean or repair roof gutters. A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.

8. Improve air flow in your home. According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they’re in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.

9. Keep mold off household plants. They're beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean — and mold loves them. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores. Or keep the plants outside during winter…

10. Understand your local climate. By understanding what works best in your climate you can make the best decisions to protect your home from the build up of mold.  In humid areas, you may need to have a dehumidifier installed (these can be intergrated into most heating/AC systems). In damp, cold areas you must be sure to make proper drainage a priority, as well as allowing as much natural light in as possible (UV light kills mold spores). Knowing your climate is very important.

 

In summary, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step.

If you want to know how ALPINE can help you with improving your indoor air quality, speak to one of our team members today

1300 252 225.