When you’re all cozied up with the furnace blaring and a fire roaring, mold growth might not be on your mind. However, winter can be a time where a lot of mold growth occurs. We reached out to some specialists for their advice. Keep reading to see what they recommend doing to prevent mold growth while it’s cold outside.Russ Harlow, Owner of AdvantaClean.
Ensure Proper Insulation
Mold is always a moisture problem, and moisture comes in many forms. We are primarily looking at condensation. Building science tells us we want the condensation line where cold air meets warm air to be outside the building envelope. These problems can develop in any area of a building, but we see it most often in attics during cold weather months.
Even in a properly ventilated attic, if there is insufficient insulation, gaps in insulation, or too much air leakage, the warm air enters the attic and condenses on the cold sheathing. This can lead to several problems, including mold.
To keep the condensation line outside, proper insulation and stopping air leakage plays a vital role. Make sure you have the right amount of insulation for your region of the country and seal up any gaps where air can be passing through fixtures like recessed lighting. Making these improvements will also allow you to turn the thermostat down and stay comfortable for less money.
Keep Humidity to 60% or Lower
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of mold during the winter season is to make sure that you humidify sparingly. This is important because winter air is usually dry and can often be quite irritating to certain individuals and more often than not, people will use humidifiers to introduce water vapor into indoor air.
However, many rooms can often become over-humidified and the rise in moisture heavily contributes to active mold growth. As such, you should make sure to maintain indoor humidity levels at about 60% or lower to discourage the growth of mold.
Additionally, you can also try to turn on your ceiling fans in reverse or clockwise mode during the winter. This works because when a ceiling fan is rotating clockwise it often pulls warm air upwards, then goes on to push it across the ceiling and down walls and windows. This then does well to effectively dry out condensation, eliminating any source of mold-triggering moisture.
You should also take the time to check the attic space. While your roof shingles may get rid of summer rain effectively, when it comes to the colder winter months, the slow, stationary seepage that comes as a result of melting snow on the roof can provide the opposite effect.
Eden Cheng, Co-Founder of PeopleFinderFree.Chris Spencer, CEO of Picked for Home.
3 Tips to Prevent Mold Growth
There are many ways to keep molds from growing during winter, but these are the three most important things that you should do:
· Keep the humidity low
Moisture in the air is very suitable for mold growth so you have to avoid moisture build-up in your home as much as possible. Moisture build-up usually occurs after you take a hot bath or after you cook. To avoid this, open ventilation sources like windows and doors so moisture can go out. Do this for at least 30 minutes after you do the mentioned activities.
· Keep your area always dry
Mold loves damp areas so keeping your areas dry will keep mold away. If your place is always dry, even if mold spores go there, they will not have access to water so they cannot multiply and grow. Scientifically speaking, there are only a few mold species that can tolerate very dry areas so keeping your place dry will prevent most mold growth.
· Spray with bleach and water solution
If ever you notice or suspect mold growth in an area, immediately spray it with 10% bleach solution. Just mix one cup of bleach with nine cups of water then spray to the affected area. After that, dry it with a cloth. You have to do this for two cycles to ensure that mold spores will not survive. Also, ensure that the area is always dry.
Prevention is Better than Repair
To prevent the growth of mold, first, you need to find the source of the moisture. Check if any leaks prevent your area from being dry. Mold growth starts within 48 hours of exposure to moisture.
Most moisture is found in bathrooms or kitchens. Utilize ventilation fans or exhaust fans to remove the humid air out of the house. In bedrooms, turning on ceiling fans will help move the air around.
For enclosed places such as your wardrobe, dehumidifiers help absorb moisture from the air. Remember not to put your wet coats in the wardrobe. Hang them outside until they are completely dry. The same goes with your soaked footwear or wet boots. Get your curtains and carpets steamed cleaned once in a while to kill mold spores.
When using a heater, try not to blast it at high temperatures. It is better to control it with lower temperatures over a longer period. Ventilate the area by keeping some doors and windows opened if possible. This allows fresh air to circulate through the house, preventing mold from forming.
The key to keeping your area mold-free is to consistently perform maintenance. Prevention is better than repairing the damage done.
Improve Air Flow
As the temperature drops, the air’s capacity to retain moisture decreases. All of that extra moisture is absorbed by your walls, floors, furniture, and other surfaces. Furthermore, the heat you most likely have on in your house throughout the winter isn’t much assistance.
Because mold thrives in the presence of moisture and heat, avoiding these two factors is the most effective approach to keep mold at bay. Regularly air out your home by opening the windows or leaving interior doors open when possible, to allow for proper air movement from room to room. This will not only enhance the aeration of your home, but it will also improve the air quality!
Tips to Prevent Mold Growth
• Keep your home as clean as possible
While this may appear to be a regular thing, many people overlook the nooks and crannies of their homes, specifically spots that no one sees or can usually reach. These spots hide dirt beyond recognition and invite all sorts of bacteria and fungi into the home. Try to do a thorough cleaning of your home regularly, paying special attention to those hard-to-reach corners.
• Turn off the water supply when necessary and fix damaged water appliances
It is quite common to forget to keep your water supply shut. It is always a good idea to double-check and ensure that the water supply is properly shut off. Also, to avoid water leakage, repair all broken appliances that are connected to water as soon as possible. This is because water is the most common cause of molds.
• Fix all cracks, seals, holes in windows, ceilings, and doors
It can be frustrating to have to fix some things in the home as they can be quite expensive. However, neglecting holes or cracks in certain areas of the home is just going to cause even more damage and increase the cost. As winter approaches, fix all damages to your doors, windows, walls, ceiling, and so on. This will save you a lot more trouble than you realize.
Adjust Fans and Keep Your Home Dry
The ideal ceiling fan should rotate counterclockwise during the summer and clockwise in winter. The clockwise movement helps to pull cold air from your home while drawing warm air downwards. It helps to maintain the temperatures of your home while keeping utility bills low.
With the movement of warm air in your home, condensation cannot build up on the walls and windows. Therefore, mold cannot grow as easily.
Mold prevention also requires you to keep all surfaces dry. You have to move any wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, wipe any condensation that appears on walls and windows, and dry wet floors or any other wet surface.
If possible, you can install energy-efficient windows. You can also use high-gloss paint to paint the windowsills. It will help to keep the wood safe from moisture and make it easier to clean.
Use Essential Oils
When people think mold prevention, they think chemicals. Essential oils also prevent the growth of mold without harsh chemicals. Cinnamon, thyme, tea tree, and clove oil are especially effective at being able to prevent mold. Add two ounces of essential oils to a spray bottle with water and spritz it into areas you think are susceptible to mold, including high-humidity areas, attics, and basements.
Essential oils don’t remove mold. They can prevent it from flourishing, so make sure that you are starting with a clean surface. Chemicals might be your automatic go-to, but if you start mold prevention with essential oils, you’re not only protecting your home but also the people and animals who live there.
Ice Dams for Gutters
Gutters are the biggest concern during winter if you live in a place where it snows. Snow will build up in the gutters and once it melts, the overflow of water can make its way into cracks or holes in your roof and end up in your home. If it’s not a significant leak, you likely won’t notice until the mold starts to grow.
The best thing you can do is have ice dams and other protection for your gutters. Clear them out regularly and don’t allow moisture to just sit on your roof.
Fix Leaks and Cracks
Water damage can still cause mold growth during winter. An excellent way to prevent this from happening is to fix up any leaks or cracks and make sure the seals on your windows and doors are working correctly so moisture doesn’t seep in. The key is to eliminate any possible source of moisture.
Little Changes Make a Big Difference
During the winter months, moisture is trapped inside buildings due to snow and rain. This also means that no one in their home is typically opening the windows. When you combine this with the warmth provided by furnaces and fireplaces, you have a breeding ground for mold spores to thrive on almost any surface.
Mold may grow unnoticed for months, which is a grim reality. The simplest option is to keep your home’s humidity levels low. Make use of extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens to keep the space adequately ventilated.
Because of the snow and the cold weather, open a window. Your home’s air ventilation can be improved by opening windows. All that is necessary is for you to open your windows for fifteen to twenty minutes each day. Fresh air dries damp and musty spots, which helps to relieve stuffiness.
Another solution to avoid mold growth and its spreading is to clean and wipe off wet areas in your home, such as the bathroom. After a shower or bath, make sure the bathroom is completely dry. In the absence of moisture, mold cannot thrive. Wet areas should be dried as soon as possible.
Keeping indoor plants is an unexpected yet effective way to prevent mold. Your home’s air quality will improve as a result of having house plants. Devil’s ivy is a difficult plant to kill, but it is also the greatest plant for improving indoor air quality. The thing to remember about indoor plants is that they should not be toxic to your indoor pets. As beneficial as this plant is for improving indoor air quality and preventing mold growth, it is poisonous to both cats and dogs. Look into hardy indoor plants that improve the air quality in your home without harming your pets before purchasing them.
Investing in heating and insulation is an expensive option. Proper heating keeps moisture out, which keeps mold at bay. Condensation can be avoided by maintaining a consistent temperature. While there is no quick fix for mold prevention, little changes can mean the difference between a mold-free winter and a winter filled with thriving mold spores.
6 Tips to Prevent Winter Mold Growth
Mold is not only a cleaning issue. It’s also a health hazard. It is hard to control especially for humid areas. You can’t avoid humidity from changing dramatically over the year, but you can control what happens inside your home.
- Check plumbing pipes regularly. They’re already a cold, humid structure, and if on top of that they’re not working correctly (such as if they’re leaking), they can cause wet spots on your floor or wall, which will create a perfect home for mold to grow. · Don’t go too crazy with your thermostat. A higher temperature will cause a bigger difference with the outside temperature, generating water condensation quicker.
- Invest in good insulation for walls and windows.
- Use camphor tablets inside your closet. Camphor will absorb humidity.
- Clean your kitchen, laundry area, and bathrooms constantly, and let all areas dry. If possible, dry the areas with either natural ventilation or ventilation fans.
- Check your attic. If your vents lead into the attic, they’re carrying high levels of humidity, causing either steam or condensation. Mold likes any of them, so try to keep that area cleaned and ventilated.
Alexander Fraga from Frisco Maids.
This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors’ statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.