Ten Things You Should Know About Mold
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30% to 60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials that are moldy (such as carpeting and ceiling tiles) may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation. Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof and floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting.
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips
- Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors, act quickly. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried within 24 to 48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases, mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building’s foundation so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air-conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60% relative humidity (ideally, between 30% to 50%). Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, which is a small, inexpensive instrument (from $10 to $50) that is available at many hardware stores.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, act quickly to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
Actions that will help to reduce humidity:
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters, to the outdoors, where possible. (Combustion appliances, such as stoves and kerosene heaters, produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation:
- Reduce the humidity (see above).
- Increase ventilation and air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature.