Mold reproduces through spores that float through the air. They’re invisible to our eyes and are always present. Mold starts to grow when the spores land on a wet or damp surface — no water, no growth. Therefore, it can only become an indoor problem, and a health hazard, when the situation is right for it to grow.
It’s impossible to get rid of all indoor mold spores, remember they’ll always be in the air. However, a little bit of knowledge and work goes a long way toward limiting or stopping them from growing into an active mold culture.
There are places in our homes more prone to humidity than others (basement, bathroom and the kitchen depending how often it’s used). Humidity is water and it takes water for the spores to take hold. Limiting or eliminating humidity is key to curtailing or getting rid of mold.
The ideal indoor humidity, for personal comfort and mold control, is between 30% to 50%. It’s best to not let it go above 60%. A basic, inexpensive humidity meter can tell you what the levels are in your home. It’s important to move the meter from room to room as levels can change drastically from one to the other.
Of course, you may not need a meter. If you can see the mold on the ceiling of your shower or the walls of your basement you know you have a problem. But, a meter provides a helpful guideline, especially when you’re interested in maximizing personal comfort, as well as mold control.
There are many common sense ways to reduce humidity: increase ventilation (open doors and windows, run exhaust fans), decrease condensation and it’s “hidden” sources (empty air conditioning and dehumidifier drip pans, insulate cold water pipes, cover sump pumps), wipe moisture from surfaces (windows and sills, walls, pipes), air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
Most people don’t know that many appliances produce moisture, especially in Northeast Ohio where we live in closed up houses for so much of the year. Whenever possible, vent clothes dryers, stoves and kerosene heaters outside.
It’s hard to have a completely mold free home. There are just too many places in the average home for moisture and spores to join. But, with some diligence you can go a long way toward limiting its impact on you and your family.
Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 150 articles published. She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction. She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator. She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.