To prevent mold in a home, we have to understand how mold grows in the first place.
Mold is a type of fungi that reproduces by creating microscopic spores; similar to seeds but invisible to the naked eye. With tens of thousands of species of mold already discovered and more being discovered every year, it’s simplest to say that mold spores are everywhere. They float throughout the air outside, making colonies along the way, and they often find their way into homes.
A few mold spores inside a home don’t pose a significant problem- every home has them. When they start to colonize though, that’s when trouble hits. Some molds particularly prefer to live indoors and thrive in the temperature-controlled environment. We call these “water-damaged molds” because they require a chronic source of water and moisture before they can begin to grow.
When molds begin to make your home their home, that’s when we need to take action.
Testing for Mold Inside
Completing a baseline mold test outside should be the first step when testing for mold inside a home. Testing the outside air will give an idea as to what the air quality is like in the surrounding area, including what and how many mold spores are present. If the number of spores inside the home is much greater than outside, that indicates a mold problem.
The test also shows what species of molds are in a home and if bacteria or biotoxins (both of which also negatively affect health) are present and should be taken care of.
If the test comes back showing no issues, that’s great! Then the focus can shift towards mold prevention.
Mold requires water, moisture, or high relative humidity before spores can grow and colonize. Taking action to correct any areas that could lead to excess water in a home will prevent mold growth before it starts.
Keeping a home clean can also aid in mold prevention! Dust, unfortunately, provides perfect food sources for mold.
The strategies listed below are steps that can help prevent mold growth in a home. Avoiding mold growth means saving money from costly remediation and preventing the health side-effects that come from mold exposure.
Mold Prevention Steps:
- Have your roof inspected regularly.
- Inspect exterior windows for any gaps from loose caulking or cracks.
- Take a look at the grading around the outside of the home to make sure it’s not sloped towards the house. This is important because when it rains, water can collect and in the basement or crawlspace.
- Inspect any patios or decks that are connected to a home. Make sure it’s counter-flashed properly so no moisture can come inside.
- Check the ventilation in the attic so that hot, humid air can escape during the summer. Do not install new insulation on top of old insulation though! That can block the ventilation.
- Check the basement to make sure it’s equipped with moisture countermeasures, like moisture-blocking primer paint on the foundation walls.
- Install a waterproof strategy for basements prone to water, such as a French drain. Stay away from vinyl wall insulation covering systems though because they can trap moisture between the vinyl and the wall.
- For homes in humid climates, install an entire home dehumidifying system. The original HVAC may not be able to keep up with its dehumidifying process.
- Protect the home’s HVAC system so the coil doesn’t allow for mold growth in the condensation that builds up. A product like the Intellipure air purification system filters the air that reaches the coil and keeps it spore and contaminate-free.
- Keep windows closed on humid and rainy days.
- Kitchens and bathrooms:
a) Check the ventilation to make sure excess moisture is removed while showering and cooking.
b) Clean the fans so dust can’t collect and block airflow.
c) Make sure the fan sizes are appropriate for the space.
d) Check to make sure the air replacing that which is being taken away is the correct amount for the area.
- Make sure the exhausts don’t pump the moist air into the attic. When faced with a sudden water leak (like a burst pipe):
1. Turn off the water source immediately
2. Document the damage
3. Clean up any excess water
4. Contact your insurance company
5. Dry out the space using dehumidification machines
6. Hire a consultant to evaluate the space for mold, bacteria, and other contaminants before removing any materials
Want an easy way to check for mold inside a home right now? Take a look at your toilet tank and see if mold is growing in the tank or around the cover. If you see mold, chances are there’s a source somewhere inside!
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