Maintenance vs. Emergency: Curbing Mold Growth During SummerReturn to Blog
Martin Grube, FEMA - 44263 - Mold Remediation Awareness, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
During the humid summer months, mold can be an unwanted guest. Taking the steps to prevent mold before it can grow out of control is essential. We’re already partway through the summer, but there are things we can do and change to protect our home from mold damage. Stopping mold before it starts, or even in its beginning stages, before it has the chance to grow, will help prevent a greater problem down the road.
Some mold can also be identified by smell. In general, the smell of mold is unpleasant and smells like something is moist in the room. Some people compare it to the smell of wet socks, or rotten wood or paper. When mold eats, grows, and multiplies, it releases Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC). There are many of these compounds, or chemicals, that are released as mold grows, but some of the most common have smells that are pungent and musty. Their scent is also described as earthy or meaty, likened to the smell following rain. Others have an acetone-like, or camphor-like odor, with some described as herbaceous, nutty, or fatty. Another MVOC releases an alcohol fermentation smell.
If you notice a musty smell in the home, you probably have mold somewhere. Mold often grows in hard-to-see places, like under carpet and inside walls. If you smell something musty but can’t find any mold, we recommend submitting a maintenance request to have a certified mold tester to test your home for mold. Most certified mold testers are engineers and they are trained to track down hidden mold. They can also tell you what kind of mold is growing in your home.
3 Main causes of mold and its growth:
- Lingering moisture caused by lack of ventilation
- Leaky toilets, sinks, and plumbing pipes
- Damp cellulose materials such as rugs, paper products, wood, wallpaper, grout, drywall, and fabric
Cleaning is key:
Keeping your home clean is important for several reasons. The number one thing mold needs is moisture. Once it has this, it can easily grow on several surfaces within the home. Regular cleaning of these areas can be instrumental in preventing mold from growing. Cooking oils, soap scum, and dirt can all facilitate mold growth. Eliminate these elements from the home through regular cleanings.
7 Tips to avoid mold growth
- Mold grows best at temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep the indoor temperature lower than that if you can.
- Watch for any condensation or moisture in your air ducts. Sometimes using the air conditioner can cause condensation and that moisture provides a place for mold to grow.
- Mold thrives in moist environments, so it’s best to keep the relative humidity below 50 percent. If any areas of your home have relative humidity higher than that, purchase a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. Mold doesn’t grow well in dry environments.
- Close windows when it rains. If windows are open when it rains, dry windowsills, floors, or any other surfaces as soon as possible. If the carpet gets wet, use a fan to dry it faster.
- Repair any leaky pipes or appliances as soon as possible.
- Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors, not into your attic or crawlspace.
- Turn on the exhaust fan or open a bathroom window a couple of inches when showering. The steam that fills the bathroom when you shower provides ample moisture for mold.
Depending on the level of mold, how long its been growing, and the location of the mold can increase urgency we will need to apply to resolve molding issues within your home. If you are experiencing a high level of mold or are unsure about your mold status, we urge you to submit a maintenance request. This will allow us to identify where the mold is, how severe the mold is to your health, and take action to remove the mold from your home.