Can Mold Grow in Winter?
There is a myth that colder temperatures kill mold. They argue that you don’t have to worry about mold growth in the colder months. However, this is simply not the case.Contrary to popular belief, the environmental changes that can occur over the winter months can increase the likelihood of mold growing in your home. Whatever the temperature outside may be, the fact is, the most comfortable temperatures for most humans just happen to be ideal for many kinds of mold to grow.
We don’t want mold in our homes, rentals, or anywhere else. These organisms can lead to structural damage for our homes and cause allergenic and even asthmatic reactions in certain people. We must understand how mold can grow and even thrive during the winter months, where you can find it, and the mitigation steps we can take now to prevent it from getting there in the first place.
How Mold Can Grow in the Cold
Mold is one of the many types of fungus that breaks down dead plant matter in nature, helping to clear our yards and forests of detritus. This dead plant matter is one of the most common sources of mold spores being spread into the air. Although mold has its place in nature, the one place we don’t want it is in our homes. How does it get there in the first place?
There are many ways mold spores can get into your home, from poorly sealed walls to open windows and doors. They can be found in all indoor environments, and it is impossible to get rid of them all. However, these spores will not grow unless there is moisture present.
The problem is that the winter months often bring a lot of moisture from precipitation and cold air. As the air becomes colder, we tend to turn up our thermostats. But, because our homes are designed to be so energy efficient, condensation and humidity can become trapped within our homes and create an ideal environment for the spores to begin growing.
Where to Look for Mold Growth
Mold grows pretty much anywhere in the home. However, there are a few particular places to pay attention to.
- Window Panes/Window Frames
- Crawl Spaces
While by no means an exhaustive list, this is a good summary of the kinds of places to look when you are concerned about mold growth. Windows can be a problem in winter due to precipitation and condensation that collects on them. This moisture buildup is because of the temperature difference between the inside and outside of the home created by the colder weather.
Basements, attics, and crawl spaces can all be prone to leaks and water damage from the outside and can have higher humidity and moisture levels than the rest of the home, creating ideal habitats for mold. Steamy bathrooms and showers are even more prone to high humidity levels as well. If these problem areas aren’t checked and adequately managed, mold spores can create a foothold in your home and begin causing real harm.
Tips to Prevent Mold Growth in Winter
Rather than temperature, the key to preventing mold growth is humidity. If the humidity in your home is lower, there will be less moisture, and you will thereby reduce the places where spores can land and begin to grow. Ideally, you would keep your indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50%.
One of the ways you can accomplish this is by using dehumidifiers to help reduce the moisture that can feed mold. The other key to this is getting good air circulation. Setting ceiling fans in reverse can help to redistribute the warm air that gathers around the ceiling.
Furthermore, exhaust fans in bathrooms should always be kept on during showers or baths to keep the air moving and extract as much moisture from the air as possible. You can also use mold-killing cleaners in the more moist areas of your home to help kill any mold that may be starting to grow.
Clean Air and Peace of Mind
We’ve discussed just the tip of the iceberg in preventing mold growth in your home. Following these tips, you can go far in preventing spores from beginning to damage, but there is a lot more to think about. For instance, ductwork and filters can harbor mold, carpets or rugs near windows can also become moist and allow mold to grow. Even your gutters can contribute to your mold problem if not cleaned regularly. Sometimes, the most efficient way to deal with a problem is to turn to an expert.
If you are concerned about a mold problem in your home, AdvantaClean offers both testing and mold remediation services backed by 25 years of experience to give you peace of mind.