Mold Prevention Tips: How to Manage Mold and Mildew
Hot and humid conditions create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Although it is recommended that you seal up your home for energy efficiency, sometimes a too airtight home can create high indoor humidity. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to mold and mildew.
Symptoms and Health Hazards of Mold
There are many health hazards associated with mold and moisture in the home, including:
- Nasal stuffiness
- Throat irritation
- Coughing and wheezing
- Eye and skin irritation
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms
Learn more about the effects of mold and mildew in your home from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
If mold is a problem in your home, clean it up immediately and fix the sources of moisture that created the problem. Never ignore a moldy or musty smell in your home. Locate the cause and make any necessary modifications to your home. Check with your local municipalities for changes in your water table.
Mold Prevention Tips: How to Manage Mold & Moisture
Moisture is common in many areas of the home, most often the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and garage. Moisture is created by breathing, cooking, bathing, cleaning, and other activities.
1. Increase Ventilation
If your ventilation fans aren’t working in your bathrooms and kitchens, have them repaired or replaced as soon as you can. If your exhaust fans are working, use them whenever you are cooking, cleaning, or bathing.
A great way of controlling the moisture in your home is to schedule annual HVAC and plumbing maintenance. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers to help reduce indoor humidity levels. And make sure that your clothes dryer properly vents outside your home.
Speak with your HVAC contractor about ventilation systems, exhaust fans, and other ways of removing moisture from the home. If you can’t keep indoor humidity levels below 50%, consider installing a whole-home humidification system to keep your humidity levels in check.
Keep in mind that humidity levels change throughout the day.
2. Keep Everything Dry
Controlling the sources of moisture in your home is key to preventing mold and mildew. If you have any plumbing leaks or cracks around windows, doors, or your foundation, have them sealed immediately. This includes your roof and walls.
You can use weatherproof caulk for any gaps less than 1/4 inch and expandable foam spray for any gaps larger than 1/4 inch. You want to keep as much of the outdoor rain and moisture out of your home. Some other waterproofing solutions include:
- Cleaning and repairingin gutters and drainage systems
- Repairing foundation leaks and cracks
- Sealing air leaks around doors and windows
- Installing french drains (usually involves a sump pump)
- Installing and maintaining basement sump pump
- Improving lot drainage
- Unblocking sewer and drains
The basic idea is to get the outside rain and moisture as far way from the home as possible.
How to Extend Downspouts
Before you start investing in expensive drainage options, take a step back and observe where your biggest source of moisture is. If it is coming from a gutter or downspout, consider extending your downspouts to areas further away from the home. Redirecting your downspouts could be all you need to solve your problems. Consider the ZipHinge, which is a basic downspout connection that allows you to redirect your drainage (all you need is tin snips and a nut driver for the screws).
If you have a sump pump, make sure it is draining to the right place. Clean or throw your damp and wet items in your home, including any towels or other organic material that may have been compromised.
3. Keep Everything Clean
As soon as you notice moisture around your home, clean it up immediately. Be careful about storing papers, cardboard, and other fabrics in areas prone to dampness. If there are any clothing or other organic materials that have a moldy or musty smell, either clean them or get rid of them.
Any moisture or mold growth should be addressed immediately. If the area of infestation is considerate (more than 10 sq. ft.), consider hiring a professional for the job. Although there are many way of cleaning mold and mildew, the natural methods are best:
Use tea tree oil – if you find mold in your home, use tea tree oil if you can. It is inexpensive and highly effective against mold and mildew.
Use hydrogen peroxide – If you can’t gain access to tea tree oil, then consider hydrogen peroxide as an effective alternative. Hydrogen peroxide works best ons surfaces, such as kitchen appliances, bathroom fixture, and more.
Learn more about mold prevention techniques by watching this This Old House video:
One unexpected place you want to keep clean and free from mold is the inside of your A/C condensate drain line. You want to make sure that you keep your A/C condensate drain line clean and clear. Otherwise, the condensate from your indoor coils and air handler can cause water damage in the home.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to periodically pour about 6 ounces of vinegar down your drain line. Locate the drain line “T” that leads away from your indoor drain pan and unscrew the cap. Pour vinegar (or bleach, although we recommend white vinegar) down your drain every couple of months or so.
The vinegar will kill the mold and algae in your pipe, but if the clog is too sever, you may need a wet-dry vac to remove the clog.
For more indoor air quality tips, read Sick House Syndrome: Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Stats.
One of the best ways to prevent mold and mildew in your home is to have a professional air quality expert examine your home. Removing mold is only a temporary solution if the primary cause hasn’t been addressed. Call Pacific Air Systems at 253.292.3995 to speak with one of our Comfort Specialists.
Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor. We are known in the Tacoma/Lakewood area for professional duct sealing and cleaning solutions.