After two days of near constant light rain, it was 100% humidity this morning, with more fog and light mist. It reminded me so much of the weather in Ireland. The big difference here is that mold becomes problematic – not just for allergies, but for houses. So, in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few tips for controlling household mold:
- Identify potential problem areas in your home and take action. While you can’t mold-proof your home, you can make it mold-resistant. Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as replacing a damp carpet with some other flooring or repairing damaged gutters. It might cost some money up front, but it will save more down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.
- Dry wet areas immediately. Mold requires moisture to grow. Seepage in a basement after a heavy rain, buildup from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 1-2 days max. If you’ve experienced a flood, remove whatever carpets, bedding, and furniture you can’t get completely dried. Don’t leave wet items lying around the house; dry the floor and walls after a shower; don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine.
- Ensure proper ventilation. 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 room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture to the outside – not the attic. Use AC units and dehumidifiers. Also, your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking or washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.
- Consider purchasing mold-resistant products. Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products, where possible. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between paper; mold-resistant drywall is paperless — the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass. Moisture-resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens.
- 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.
- 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 crawlspace or basement.
- Clean or repair roof gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.
- Improve air flow in your home. As temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, 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.
- Avoid mold on household plants. Moist soil in house plant pots is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, you can sprinkle cinnamon, baking soda, or apple cider vinegar on top of your soil as natural an anti-fungal. This acts as a natural deterrent to mold growth and won’t harm your plant.
Awareness of the problem is the first step. Prevention in this case is really much more important than the cure, as remediation, if successful, can be very costly.