Control Moisture to Control Household Mold
Photo: Harkey Construction, Inc. ©2018
The best way to prevent mold growth is to keep all materials in your home as clean and dry as possible. Make sure your house is well ventilated with a relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent. To reduce indoor humidity, vent bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; use air conditioners and dehumidifiers; increase ventilation; and use exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing or cleaning. To further protect your home from mold growth, consider the following tips:
- Standing water sources promote mold and bacterial growth, so it’s important to cover sump pumps, enclose fish tanks and ensure basement drains (for air conditioning hoses, humidifiers and washers) aren’t clogged. Find and correct obvious sources of moisture such as leaky faucets, dripping pipes or cold surfaces where moisture condenses.
- Use a dehumidifier, air conditioner or furnace to help dry the air in your home.
- If you have crawl spaces in your house, install a vapor barrier over the ground (4 to 6 millimeter polyethylene plastic) to prevent soil moisture from evaporating and filling your home. Damp crawl spaces can lead to wood rot on floor joists, beams and sills located directly above. You can further minimize humidity by placing vents at opposite sides of your crawl spaces. Also, the grading around your home should be sloped to prevent water from pooling underneath it.
- Recent studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have shown that ultrasonic and impeller (or “cool mist”) humidifiers can release materials such as microorganisms and minerals into indoor air. You can avoid this by keeping your central furnace humidifier unit properly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. Clean and change the filter on an annual basis. Condensation on walls or windows indicates the humidity is too high and needs to be adjusted.
- One of the most common causes of wet basements is improper roof drainage. Ensure your gutters, downspouts and splash blocks are properly installed and functional to allow proper rainwater drainage away from your home.
- Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature (insulate or increase air circulation) or reducing the humidity level in the air.
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