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10 Ways to Prevent Mold Damage

Posted on February 17, 2010 by tim in Home Maintenance

Although mold spores are present and found in every home, they will not cause damage or become harmful unless access moisture causes them to colonize and grow. Here are 10 ways to help prevent that from happening!

1. Eliminate clutter – Clutter creates tiny little climates where humidity is higher than the actual humidity in the room. This happens because clutter blocks airflow, and your HVAC system can’t process the air between clutter properly.

2. Don’t obstruct air return and supply grilles with furniture or draperies. Surfaces touching these grilles will cool to temperatures well below your thermostat setting and well below the dew point for the room, causing condensation.

3. Keep the thermostat set at a moderate level in summer. Set it too high, and the air conditioner won’t run often enough to dehumidify your air effectively; set it too low, and you create cold surfaces where water vapor can condense.

4. Never keep windows or doors open while the air conditioner is on. This introduces humid outside air into a sharply cooler environment, which can cause condensation.

5. Make sure your air-conditioning unit is the right size for your house.Some HVAC contractors recommend oversized units for quick cooling, but this might remove less humidity from the air. Google Energy Star to find out what size unit you really need.

6. Supplement an old air-conditioning unit that isn’t removing as much moisture with a dehumidifier. To see if you need a dehumidifier, measure humidity. Start with an under-$20 monitor from Home Depot or Lowes. An ideal indoor reading is between 35% and 50% relative humidity. If you reach 55 – 60% relative humidity, it’s time to buy a dehumidifier which can be found for $75 – $100. Above 70% relative humidity, certain species of mold can begin growing on surfaces even if water isn’t visible!

7. If you get a high humidity reading, check your air conditioner. Is it set to the proper temperature? Is it cycling on and off periodically? Does it blow cold air when it reaches the set point?

8. Check that the drain pipe (the narrow white pipe sticking out the side) is dripping regularly. If it isn’t, the pipe is blocked, water may be accumulating inside the unit, or the unit isn’t working correctly.

9. If the air conditioner isn’t the issue, look for signs of standing water or chronically damp soil in your crawl space or basement or near your foundation.

10. If you have a crawl space, make sure you have a plastic vapor barrier covering the dirt floor and that it’s intact. Moisture below the house affects the humidity indoors by moving through unsealed sections, such as where electrical and/or plumbing enter the house.

If You Can’t Find the Problem
If you can’t find the moisture problem on your own, or you aren’t sure how to correct a problem you do find, it’s a good idea to call a home inspector or indoor air quality consultant. Look for credentials from a respected industry organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or the Indoor Air Quality Association.


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