Let’s open with a very surprising fact: Every home has mold spores present in the air. In fact, it is in all the air we breathe!
Under normal conditions, the concentrations we breathe are relatively harmless as they generally exist in only trace amounts.
Mold in the home can become a problem based on the type(s) of mold and the amount of it present:
- Is the mold acting as an allergen to anyone living or visiting the home
- Is there a toxic strain of mold present?
Mold grows and builds up in the air inside your home if its needs are met: moisture, food, and the right temperature for it to use that food and moisture to grow.
Mold does not grow without some form of moisture, much the way that plants do not. There are many ways for you to have moisture in your home. Surprisingly, they are not as obvious as you may think. There are a lots of things that can cause excessive moisture to build up in your home. There are some easy things we can do as home owners that can help to reduce them.
Moisture in buildings can be often caused by leaking pipes, and water infiltrating your home’s foundation through the floor and walls of your basement and other areas of the home that sit upon the ground. Water infiltration into the home can be caused by rain seeping in because of damage to the roof or around window frames, and through water pressure building up around your home from ground water. Additionally, a structure with windows or doors left open in humid weather can bring moisture into the home.
Excess moisture indoors can also be caused by condensation. Condensation forms when the air with moisture content cools to its dew point or when the air reaches maximum relative humidity and cannot hold any more air. Cooking, showering, drying clothes indoors and many other activities can encourage condensation. Ideal relative humidity inside of a home in any room or floor of a home should be fifty percent (50%) or below. Proper use of kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans a long with use of a home’s HVAC system and a dehumidifier can help control the build of moisture in the home due to condensation.
Food and Placement
Mold feeds on celluose-based materials such as wood, paper, and cardboard. When you introduce moisture to these materials for more than 24 hours, you now have the conditions necessary for mold and mildew to germinate and grow. Mold grows easily on drywall! Water doesn’t have to leak on to drywall to get it wet. The build up of humidity in the home can cause the moisture content of the drywall to become elevated thus resulting in drywall that is wet and ready for mold growth.
Mold can feed on all kinds of organic matter, including dust. Dusty surfaces with moisture on it such as carpets, fabrics, and upholstery all can grow mold. It is common to see what appears to be mold growing on metal and other inorganic surfaces. We often encounter mold growing on the dust and/or dirt present on the metal or other non-porous inorganic surfaces.
The common theme here is moisture and the importance of controlling it inside your home. Very often homeowner overlook the importance of having water damage properly repaired in their homes. When water damage occurs to your home, it is critical to have that damage properly re-mediated by professionals as soon as possible (within 48 hours of the incident) to prevent mold and other microbial growth from taking hold.
It is not sufficient to dry walls, ceilings, hardwood floors, or wood underneath carpeting with a wet-vac or wiping it up. You cannot feel a surface and differentiate between “wet enough to grow mold” or “dry enough that it will not grow mold”.
Proper care of a home is often beyond what some of us would consider common knowledge. Moisture control and mold is often a source of misunderstanding. Internet do-it-yourself fixes can often fall short, resulting in unhealthy living conditions and damage that becomes very expensive to properly repair.