Mold is a common type of fungus, similar to yeast and mushroom. It takes various textures and colors, from black, green, brown, to blue, often appearing as discoloration or stains on a surface. Mold reproduces via lightweight spore that, in small quantities, float harmlessly in the air. But once these spores land on a moist spot in a house, they quickly start to grow and spread.
Why is mold a big problem?
Mold produces a musky, earthy smell, but that’s the least of our worries. In large enough quantities, household mold can fill the air with irritants and mycotoxins known to trigger allergic and asthmatic reactions, among other serious health issues.
In addition to being a health hazard, mold feeds on whatever surface it grows on, breaking it down and decomposing the material. Unchecked mold growth in a home can easily destroy floorboards, tile fittings, walls, fixtures, and even furniture. It takes thorough mold cleanup techniques to completely eradicate mold once it sets foot inside a house.
How to stop mold growth in winter
Mold requires warmth, moisture, and food to grow. Ironically, the cold winter season is a particularly favorable time for mold growth. The warm indoor temperatures and moisture from snow, ice, and condensation combine to create a perfect breeding ground for mold.
As experts in mold cleanup and remediation, here are our top five tips for a mold-free winter:
1. Keep the humidity levels low
High humidity provides mold with the moisture it needs to thrive. Keep the internal humidity level below 50 percent to cut off the moisture supply. Some of the ways to achieve this are:
- Running a dehumidifier
- Using exhaust fans
- Hanging laundry outside whenever possible
- Ensuring boilers and dryers vent outside
- Occasionally opening windows and airways
2. Dry off damp spots, spills, and leaks immediately
A general rule of thumb for preventing mold growth is keeping the entire house clean, tidy, and dry. Make sure to wipe or dry out any spills and leaks, especially on absorbent porous surfaces such as carpets, couches, and dry walls, as soon as they happen. And throw out any unused wet materials, soiled old newspapers, water-damaged rugs, etc.
We often advise our clients to check their plumbing systems for leaks that might cause damp spots in hidden areas such as the basement, under floors, the ceiling, and crawl spaces. But signs of leaks are not always obvious; we recommend calling professional plumbers to run a thorough inspection.
3. Avoid condensation
After taking a hot shower or boiling water in a kettle on a freezing day, tiny water droplets usually fog glass and metal surfaces – that's condensation. Again, condensed steam is a source of moisture for pesky mold.
If the humidity control is set just right, there may be no need to worry about condensation. But even so, run exhaust fans for a few minutes if there’s a lot of water vapor in the air, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Keeping the internal temperature consistent, vents open, and the house well-insulated also helps minimize condensation.
4. Improve airflow
A lot of moisture trapped in the air eventually finds its way onto walls, furniture, ceiling, and floors, but good air circulation prevents that from happening. Ensure the HVAC and air filters work properly to supply the entire house with clean air. Aeration helps drive out stale, humid air and keeps the house dry and fresh.
5. Keep an eye out for signs of mold
Some signs of mold such as rough inky stains on walls and ceilings and a musky odor are pretty easy to spot. Other signs are a bit more subtle. For instance, darkened grout between shower tiles, peeling paint or wallpaper, and mysterious allergic reactions might be signs of mold.
If you suspect a mold infestation in your home, get in touch with us through our website or call 410-961-6770. We proudly provide eco-friendly mold cleanup services, including mold inspections, testing, and remediation for residential and commercial properties in the greater Baltimore area.