5 tips for fighting mold, humidity
No matter how green or sustainable a home might be, the environment always poses danger to the performance of a residence and the well-being of those living inside.
Perhaps chief among the threats is mold, which tends to wreak the most havoc during summer when the conditions are ripe for its development and for it to flourish.
Though high-performance strategies are designed to prevent the growth of mold – through ventilation, tight thermal envelope sealing and adequate insulation – there sometimes are chinks in the armor, so to speak.
Warmer temperatures and heavy humidity permeating from the outside and cold air-conditioned air pumping through the home’s ducts can create condensation and moisture that lingers for prolonged periods. That can lead to a host of issues that can make living conditions less than desirable.
Excessive moisture behind walls, under floors or in cabinets or closets are perfect settings for mold growth. In fact, damage from mold to a home can cost as much as $10,000, and most insurance carriers will not cover the removal expense, experts say.
AdvantaClean, a leading indoor air quality firm, offers the following tips to help homeowners fight mold and humidity in what it dubs its “mold battle plan.”
- Beware of your air: When running air conditioning systems from May through October, keep the fan setting on “auto.” Leaving the fan setting at “on” runs the system continuously and can cause moisture condensed on the air conditioner coil to be blown back into the home.
- Rein in rain: Gutters and downspouts redirect rain away from the home’s foundation.
- Build a barrier: Homes with a crawlspace should use a vapor barrier, which can be something as simple as a plastic covering that lays on top of the dirt surface. Such barriers prevent moisture from the dirt floor from evaporating and seeping through into the air beneath the home and penetrating the foundation.
- Cover the crawlspace: Crawlspaces can be professionally encapsulated by sealing the walls and floor with a thick, plastic wrapping and installing a dehumidifier to set the appropriate humidity levels. The relative humidity in a home should not exceed 50 percent.
- Move on mold: Most mold – green or black – can be seen and smelled. The odor is a musty or earthy scent, similar to the smell of a thickly wooded area. An antimicrobial mixture of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda can kill and prevent growth. The mixture should be sprayed onto the mold area and removed with a scrub brush or disposable rag.