What is Mold?
Mold is a living organism that belongs to the fungi kingdom (like mushrooms, yeast, and mildew). It breaks down dead plant matter, and holds medicinal value.
Mold may have its place in nature, but problems can arise when it contaminates our homes - it can become a persistent intruder we are constantly trying to get rid of.
The Top 4 Most Common Places for Mold Growth In Your Home
Most basements are sub terrain due to their foundational function for the home; however, they have all the right conditions for mold growth: Constant damp environments that typically stay humid, and don't get a lot of air circulation. If your property is frequently and easily flooded, water can seep through tiny cracks in the foundation, or intrude your basement's doorway/window. Trapped moisture then evaporates, which elevates humidity, and provides a perfect place for mold to invade.
There's obviously plenty of water and humidity in the bathroom. Because moisture is constantly part of its environment, your bathroom may never completely have the opportunity to return to normal humidity levels. Steam from the shower or a hot bath also makes the bathroom more humid. When the water in the bathroom does dry out, it evaporates into the air and increases the humidity. Bathrooms are typically not well ventilated, so the humidity tends to linger, becoming a perfect place for mold to survive.
Improper ventilation causes multiple common problems in attics. Improper
insulation installation causes moisture from the lower levels of the home
to rise, becoming trapped in the attic. Also, dryer vents, plumbing vents,
and kitchen/bathroom fans vented to the attic constantly pump warm moist
air into the confined space.
Installing water heaters/furnaces in the attic are a recent building practice for larger homes. In homes with several heating/cooling zones, as well as bathrooms with garden tubs and steam showers, it is common to have designated systems in the attic to support these extra luxuries. If leaks are not detected in time, or the appliances are improperly installed, the risk of moisture build up or a line break greatly increases.
Crawl spaces commonly have higher relative humidity (RH) which is conducive to hidden mold growth, particularly if the crawl space has a bare earth floor. The soil will absorb and lock in moisture. The relative temperature of the crawl space will dry the soil by evaporation, adding this moisture to the air in the crawl space, which can cause mold to grow. Also, in areas where the water table is high and weather conditions are suitable, ground water can penetrate a crawl space.
Tips to Prevent Mold Growth
You can help prevent your home from becoming an environment for mold growth. Here's how:
- Moisture control is KEY. Keep areas clean and dry. Dry wet or damp areas within 48 hours.
- Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix the sources of moisture problems as soon as possible.
- Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60 percent relative humidity (RH), ideally 30 percent to 50 percent, if possible.
- Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
- Vent moisture generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
- If you are not experienced with home/building repairs you may want to consult a professional mold specialist when making repairs, or for assistance with mold-prevention-related changes to your home/building.