Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant and vegetable matter. They can be found almost anywhere, and grow on virtually any surface where moisture is present. Mold and moisture are always found together.
Molds reproduce by tiny microscopic seeds called spores. They are in the air all the time. An air filter can capture some but not all of them. To eliminate them all, you would have to use clean-room technology, complete with airlock, shower and full-body white suits. Spores come in when you open a door or window. They can enter your home through open vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets to be carried indoors.
There is no practical to eliminate spores in a normal house, and these is always plenty for them to feed on. They will grow on carpet, drywall, paint, almost any substance.
Think of mold as resting on a 3-legged stool made of spores, food and moisture. Cut one leg and the stool falls over. By far the easiest one to cut off is moisture. To cut moisture, follow these 3 rules:
- You can not eliminate all moisture. You can not live in a house or work in an office without moisture – it would be too uncomfortable. Fortunately, at levels of moisture that are practical to attain and comfortable for people, mold cannot grow.
- Work for 50% relative humidity, plus or minus 5%. Get a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level. When you consider the cost of mold remediation, the cost of a hygrometer, starting at under $20 at most hardware stores, it a good deal. If you house stays naturally in the 50% range, great. If you have to, get a dehumidifier and set it to 40% to 45%, just to be on the safe side. NOTE: Most dehumidifiers are set centrally in a room. Be award that at a far wall, the humidity is generally higher. It is the corners, nooks and crannies where air circulation is not good and the places where a lot of mold problems start. Good air circulation is a great help.
- Low overall humidity will not help if your house has leaks or high humidity problem areas. Find and fix your leaks. Look at your basement, attic, washing machine, dishwasher, sink, bathroom. If you have exhaust fans, use them when cooking and showering (consider installing if not available). Make sure your cold water pipes do not drip condensed water. Insulate them. Make sure your kitchen and bathroom walls and windows do not have condensing water when cooking or showering.
Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
So follow these rules:
- Get a hygrometer to make sure you keep the humidity in your house at 50% or below.
- Get a dehumidifer if you have do.
- Find and eliminate the problems areas.