Mold Prevention and Preventative Maintenance Tips in Residential Homes
Knowledge about what causes mold growth and mold preventative maintenance is key to providing a safe, healthy living environment.
Mold only grows and thrives in spaces that present its ideal living conditions. What makes a mold-friendly environment? Namely moisture and lack of ventilation.
To prevent mold from forming and continuing to grow, it’s necessary to address the elements causing an environment to become mold-friendly.
Below are some quick tips for mold prevention in kitchens, bathroom and basements:
Tips for Mold Prevention:
Basements provide ideal living conditions for mold to grow and thrive. They are dark, humid and not well ventilated. Low air flow and high moisture are the main culprits.
1. Monitor humidity levels. Experts recommend utilizing a hygrometer to measure humidity levels. Make sure they do not surpass readings of 45% or higher, which can indicate excessive humidity.
2. Reduce high humidity levels via insulation. Check pipe insulation. Have a plumber repair any loose insulation or leaks on all piping in the basement. Also, exposed pipes (which typically exhibit condensation during the cold seasons) should be insulated by a professional. This removes removes extra moisture.
3. Reduce high humidity levels via water drainage. It is critical to have an effective water drainage system. Direct all water drainage away from the home. If the property is showing signs of poor drainage after rain and seasonal weather, it is a clear sign that the property’s drainage system is ineffective. Consult a professional for repairs.
4. Reduce high humidity levels from appliances. Appliances like washers, dryers, heaters and air conditioners should have their exhaust systems checked to guarantee that they are properly functioning. They should be directing exhaust away from the home’s interiors and pushing moisture outside.
5. Avoid moisture-absorbing flooring. Carpet and wooden flooring absorb moisture and remain damp. This creates the perfect living condition for mold. It also contributes to the overall humidity of the space. It is best to substitute carpet and wooden flooring with more impermeable flooring, such as tiles, linoleum, or natural stone. Don’t ever use carpet in kitchens or bathrooms!
6. Improve ventilation. Having an exhaust fan installed allows proper ventilation of basements. It is also recommended to open windows regularly to air out the space. Consult a specialist with issues for help.
7. Avoid moisture producing activities. Avoid drying clothes and growing houseplants in the basement. This contributes to raising humidity levels and welcoming mold growth.
8. Consider using a dehumidifier. When used correctly, dehumidifiers can help control and manage excessive moisture.
Bathrooms present plenty of damp spaces for mold to growth. In addition to above:
9. Repair leaks quickly. Considering the significant volume of water being used daily, bathroom fixtures and piping can easily develop leaks. Those leaks will result in moist areas that welcome mold growth. It is important to promptly turn to a professional who can repair the leaks.
10. Replace moldy caulking. If you notice mold growing on the caulking or sealant of bathtubs and showers, experts encourage completely stripping the moldy layer and having a professional re-caulk the area. This will ensure that the mold growing in the area will be completely removed and eliminates the likelihood of leftover spores starting a new growth.
11. Avoid moisture-absorbing furnishings. Furnishing and decorating bathrooms with moisture-absorbing materials can impact the overall level of moisture. It’s best to avoid wallpaper and turn to a specialist for sealing unsealed wood countertops.
12. Always Use Exhaust Fans When Showering and Keep Bathroom Bare. Repeat: Use exhaust fans showering or bathing. This will allow for condensation and lingering moisture to be removed. Also, it’s best if bathtubs and showers are kept as bare as possible. Mold can grow and hide in damp loofahs, sponges, brushes and bottles of shampoo and shower gel.
Abundant plumbing and cooking-related moisture in the kitchen increases the availability of moist spaces for mold to easily grow. Along with the mentioned tips above for mold prevention, add the following for the kitchen:
13. Check the garbage disposal. Older and faulty garbage disposal systems will often fail to allow wet food scraps to be properly flushed and disposed. The garbage disposal then becomes a dark, wet, and organic material-filled space for mold to grow in. Repairing a broken garbage disposal as soon as it exhibits issues can prevent the mold.
14. Seal permeable surfaces and check cabinets with unsealed wood for leaks. Some countertop materials are prone to absorbing moisture more easily than others. Wooden countertops (or butcher block) and unsealed wood in cabinets have been known to rot due to lingering moisture. This can be prevented by regularly sealing the countertops or other areas of unsealed wood.
Overall good rule: Cleanliness! Cleanliness should always be a priority when it comes to the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure that dirty dishes, food scraps and food in general are not left out. This will decrease the likelihood of mold to grow on organic material. Spills, especially under and behind fixtures and countertops, should be cleaned up promptly. Food should be always stored mindfully. Regular cleaning and ventilation in the bathroom will also go a long way in preventing mold.
Mold can be a serious health issue. It can quickly get out of hand by growing rapidly when it is not addressed immediately. With the proper preventative maintenance, mold prevention is easy and does not have to be a problem.
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