How to prevent mold

Keep mold out of your home and prevent it from coming back

When clients come to me with a mold problem, usually the situation is extreme and in need of dire help. Inhabitants may be experiencing severe respiratory problems, brain fog, and other health issues. While in many cases the mold problem is due to some sort of building failure, there are many cases where common habits (or lack thereof) make the problem much worse. It’s really a shame that we aren’t all educated on how to prevent mold problems in our homes since living with mold can be so detrimental to our health! Prevention, in many cases, can be easy. So here are a few tips for preventing mold in your home.

1. Ventilate after showering.

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Mold grows behind wallpaper in a shower lacking ventilation

Bathrooms tend to be the top spot to find mold. Why? Bathrooms have higher humidity from the showering that goes on in them. Mold spores float about in the air hoping for prime conditions to live out the lives they were intended to live – as decomposers. If you keep the humidity in your bathroom high, you will likely give these guys the opportunity they are looking for. And they will try to start decomposing the grout in between your tile, the drywall behind your wallpaper, or the sealant around your tub. If you have very high humidity in your bathroom or say an additional source of humidity such as an outdoor wall with improperly installed vapor barrier, you might just end up with a big mold party. The solution is to open a window or use your bathroom vent to remove some of this humidity. In dry climates, you might instead be able to simply keep your bathroom door open for a couple of hours after showers. This will help humidify the rest of the house. If you don’t use your ceiling vent because it’s too noisy, consider installing a quieter one. And hang your wet towel outside of the bathroom to dry!

2. Don’t let a leak go unchecked.

If you think that teeny, tiny leak under your kitchen sink isn’t going to do any damage, think again. I have seen kitchens polluted with mold because of simple, small leaks. Get any leaks fixed asap, and replace any moldy materials such as drywall or wood cabinetry. And before you get to that point, keep an eye on your sinks for leaks so you dont have to go through the pain of tearing out mold-ruined materials. The other bonus of fixing leaks quickly is that you will save a crazy amount of water from being wasted. Seriously!

3. Avoid having thick vegetation close to your house. 

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Mold grows in a window frame where vegetation grows close to the house

You may be one of those people who enjoy living nestled into a woodsy little nook. It may look darling, but vegetation that is too close to a house can cause high humidity levels that may encourage mold growth inside your home. To see if you might have a problem, look at your outside walls. If you have siding, it may have mold growing on it or if you have a brick house, the bricks may have moss growing on them or discoloration. Do you have mold growing on any of the walls inside your house? Or on the back of any furniture that is against outer walls? This may be one cause of such mold. Cut back vegetation around the house or plant it with more room in the first place. The distance you need to have between your trees and shrubs and the walls of your house will depend on your climate, but in general, if it is touching the house, it’s too close.

4. Don’t store a lot of clutter in damp basements.

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Moldy insulation slumps and mold grows on cooler in a moldy basement

Basements tend to stay damp and if you have a damp basement, you should avoid storing porous materials in them. Why? Again, mold’s purpose on this planet is to decompose. Mold spores are already floating around in the air through no fault of your own, so if your basement is humid enough, mold will celebrate and gladly take up residency. Unfortunately, the air in your basement can easily end up inside your house. So keep your unfinished basement clutter free, and preferably, unfinished. Mold also likes to grow underneath basement carpet. And if your basement is damp, if could be causing problems for you even if it is empty, but the clutter will certainly make things worse.

5. Don’t put a band-aid on a mold problem.

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Mold grows in a finished basement

If you have mold in your house, you’re going to want to get rid of it, both to save your health and to avoid having your house damaged. Putting a band-aid on it won’t do either. Usually the band aid involves painting directly over mold to cover it up, and that’s about it. Unless the conditions that caused the mold magically disappear (they rarely do!) this will not help, and may make things worse. So if your roof is leaking, you’ll need to find out WHY, not just paint over the unsightly stain on the ceiling. Fix the roof leak first, and then paint the ceiling. If you can’t discern why you are having a mold problem, that is when you need a professional! Make sure you get help from someone who is NOT in the remediation business first, so that you have an objective opinion of what the problem is and not a sales pitch in the making.

Now you are armed with some good strategies for keeping mold out of your home. Go forth and prosper!