Moisture and Mold: How to Keep This Dangerous Duo Apart
Mold spores are some of the most common contaminants of indoor air. Although some spores will inevitably be found in the air of any home, when left unchecked, they may cause serious problems. Whether they come from outside sources or grow within the home, mold spores will eventually invade and begin growing in any environment that's suitable. To protect your home from a potentially dangerous mold problem, you'll have to reduce the number of spores in the air as much as possible and make sure that no mold is allowed to settle and grow.
Stop Moisture at Its Source
Moisture is key to a mold-friendly habitat, so it should be the first thing you tackle to keep your home free of this invading fungus. The first step to ridding the home of mold is to eliminate any sources of excessive moisture. Kitchens, bathrooms and basements tend to be good targets for mold, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since they're the places most likely to have water leaks or be chronically damp. Examine these areas, and any others where water pipes are present, for leaks or drips. Repairing these can go a long way toward keeping mold from forming.
It's also imperative to dry the area completely and eliminate sources of excessive moisture, or mold may just start growing again. Ideally, humidity indoors should be kept below 50 percent to inhibit mold growth. If you're using a humidifier, set it to maintain under 50 percent humidity, or use a hygrometer to measure moisture levels if your humidifier doesn't have one built in.
While you're checking for leaks, you may come across areas where mold has already begun to spread. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it's often possible to remove mold yourself, unless you have allergies that could make doing so dangerous. When a mold patch is larger than 10 square feet, it may be best to call in a professional. The EPA recommended using detergent and water, rather than disinfectants such as bleach, as a first line of defense.
Air purifiers can also help inhibit mold growth or minimize its effects. HEPA-type air purifiers, such as the Holmes® True HEPA Allergen Remover, which capture up to 99.97 percent of all irritants larger than 0.3 microns, may be your best bet. With these air purifiers, you'll be catching not only mold but also most other common household air pollutants.