Control Moisture, Prevent Mold

by Jane VanOsdol on February 27, 2011

The health and well-being of our families is a priority for most of us. Being sure that our homes are safe and healthy places to live is an important part of this goal. One way we can help ensure that our homes don’t develop significant problems is by controlling the moisture level in the indoor air. By controlling the moisture level, we can head off one big potential problem from starting:  mold.

It’s so much easier to prevent mold from starting than it is to remediate it once it makes an appearance. Mold can not survive without moisture, so it makes sense that if you control the one, you can prevent the other.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a list to help you prevent mold from getting a foothold in your home.

EPA Mold Prevention List

1.     Fix leaky plumbing and other leaks in your home as soon as possible. The longer a leak escapes your notice or it is ignored, the more time you give mold to get started. Do periodic checks around your bathrooms, laundry room—any areas where you have pipes.

2.     Keep an eye out for condensation and wet spots. Fix the source of moisture as soon as possible. Carefully examine windows. Moisture will often condensate here, and water can blow in during storms. A wooden windowsill is a prime spot for mold growth if there is uncontrolled moisture.

3.     If you find excess condensation in your home, you can control this by increasing the surface temperature or by decreasing the humidity in the air. To increase the surface temperature, insulate the item or increase the air circulation around it. To lower the humidity in the air, be sure you repair any leaks and use a dehumidifier in the summer if the outside air is hot and humid, or increase ventilation in the winter when the outside air is cold and dry.

4.     Check your heating and air conditioning systems to be sure that any drip pans are clean and functioning properly. Make sure you have your heating service scheduled for regular maintenance work and any necessary repairs.

5.     When possible, vent appliances like dryers to the outside. If they vent to the inside, the moisture will be dispersed indoors.

6.     Maintain an indoor humidity level between 30-50% if at all possible. It should remain below 60% relative humidity (RH).

7.     Clean and dry any damp or wet spots within 48 hours to help prevent mold from starting.

8.     Don’t let the foundation of your home stay wet. Make sure you have proper drainage and check to see that your ground slopes away from the foundation. Regrade it if necessary.

9.     If you find large areas of mold, call in a mold inspection service to handle it. Breathing in the spores is hazardous.

Being vigilant about following these tips can save you the time and expense of trying to remediate a mold problem once it gets started—and  any accompanying health issues.

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