Mold spores exist in the air that we breathe every day and are an essential part of the environment. But because mold can destroy certain organic materials, it can become a problem inside our homes. Mildew is mold in its early stages of formation, usually seen as black dots that eventually spread into larger dark spots sometimes mistaken for dirt. Mold and mildew are fungi that need water in order to grow and can do so very quickly. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep mold and mildew out of your home.
Causes of Mold and Mildew
Wherever moisture is present, mold and mildew can grow, as they thrive in wet, humid environments. In your home, any rooms or areas that are damp, especially the basement or the bathroom, are primary candidates for mold and mildew growth and resulting side effects.
Common sources of interior water:
Plumbing or roof leaks
Damp basement or crawlspace
Sink or tub overflow
Consequences of Mold Growth
Mold has the potential to cause damage to both physical structures and your physical health. It can lead to wood rot, destroying furniture and other structures on which it spreads. Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, headaches, and other respiratory issues. The more mold a person is exposed to and the longer they are, the greater the risk of contracting an illness or infection. Infants and children, elderly adults, and those with an existing health condition are more vulnerable to side effects from mold exposure.
Controlling Moisture to Keep Mold and Mildew Away
Controlling moisture is the key to controlling mold growth; keeping water out of your home is the number one way to keep out mold and mildew.
Repair Moisture Problems
If there are any signs of water in your home, you’ll want to find the source of the problem and repair it right away. It’s important to get rid of water accumulation within 24-48 hours of its arrival and to figure out where it’s coming from in order to keep it from coming back.
Increasing ventilation helps to dry out your home, in a sense, through opening windows and running exhaust and ceiling fans. Exhaust fans are especially important after showering and cooking to get rid of steam and moisture from the air.
Run your Air Conditioner
An air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier, so it helps to control moisture inside your home when the weather is warm. It’s also important to have your air conditioner serviced by an HVAC professional to make sure it is working properly, including adequate drainage from the condensate drain.
Use a Dehumidifier
Aside from your air conditioner you can use a separate dehumidifier, specifically in your basement where most moisture exists.
If your basement is prone to flooding or other unwanted water entry, it is a good idea to install an interior waterproofing system that includes a sump pump. Water collects in the sump pit and is pumped out of your home a safe distance away from the exterior, helping to keep your basement from flooding and water from accumulating.
Repair Plumbing Leaks
Plumbing leaks not only waste water but can lead to mold formation, as well. Check for leaky pipes, toilets, sinks, tubs, etc. and have the leak repaired right away by a professional plumber.
Cleaning your home on a regular basis is another way to keep out mold and mildew. Your home will benefit from frequent vacuuming and surface cleaning using anti-bacterial and anti-fungal cleaners. You can also use vinegar and baking soda as natural cleaners throughout your home.
Remember, where there is water, there is probably mold waiting to grow. Keeping unwanted water out of your home, controlling moisture, and taking care of water problems as soon as possible will help to keep mold and mildew away and your home a cleaner and safer place for you and your family.
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