September is Mold Awareness month! Let's look at why mold thrives in our homes.

Thursday, September 8th, 2016 by Rosie Graves

moldy floor joist

 

 

Nobody wants to think about mold being in their home or in the air they breathe. Unfortunately, it likely is. Let’s take a look at why, and what you can do about it.

 

Mold needs 3 basic things to survive and thrive: air, food, and water.

Water is fairly self explanatory; either there is standing water or a high moisture content because of high humidity.

Air- well, there is going to be air present. Not much we can do about that.

Food- this refers to any organic material. So what does that mean? The wood from floor joists or insulation on the underside of the floor would both count as organic materials. Yes, you could remove the insulation, but you can’t remove the floor joists. So, again, not much you can do about organic materials being present that serve as food.

But remember, all 3 things have to be present for mold to grow and thrive. Air, food, and water.

So, let’s focus on water. We can absolutely control water to prevent mold.  Remember we said above that “water” applies not only to standing water, but wet air / high humidity. The only permanent solution for water, high moisture, or high humidity in a crawl space is for it to be fully encapsulated in conjunction with a dehumidifier and a sump pump. Learn more about that here. For basements, it is a professional waterproofing solution that permanently and completely diverts water out of the house. Read more about that here.

 

Let’s take a look further at why the air in your crawl space or basement matters.

 

Whether or not there is standing water in the crawlspace or basement, they are both culprits for raising humidity inside of your home. Without taking specific measures against it, they will both always be plagued with moisture issues- standing water or not. Lets go back to why the air in the crawl space or basement matters…The reason is because of Stack Effect.

 stack effect photo

Stack effect refers to the process in which hot air leaves the home through your attic and upper levels. As it does, a vacuum is created below, and new air is pulled upwards through the basement, crawl space, and lower levels. So, the reality is, the air from the humid and damp crawl space or cold, leaky basement is traveling throughout the house. This is why it isn’t uncommon to find mold on the underside of flooring in the first level of the house when floors are replaced. If you notice that you suffer from symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, mild allergic reactions, a scratchy throat, fatigue, or headaches at home that seem to disappear once you leave the building, mold allergens may be the culprit.

 Click here to read further about indoor air quality.

We focused a lot on mold spores being in the air and the reality that we are breathing them in. Of course, mold and rot will also wreak havoc on your home. Damaged wood, structural issues, and ruined personal property are all consequences of mold, mildew, rot & humidity in a basement or crawl space.

 

A handful of tips out of many that could be offered:

-        Just say no to bleach. You read that right.  Bleach MIGHT temporarily take the LOOK of mold away, but, in reality bleach acts as a food for mold. So, while the look may be temorarily masked, it will continue to grow. 

-        If you know there is an active leak anywhere in your home, don’t let it go. This includes standing water under the house, such as a crawl space or basement.

-        Be mindful of the humidity level in the home. This includes in the living area and in the basement or crawl space. Air needs to be conditioned and humidity- controlled (using a  dehumidifier). Click here to read more about relative humidity and why it matters.

-        Keep gutters and downspouts cleaned out and pointed away from the house.

-        Do NOT open crawl space vents EVER. Read more about that here.

-        Use exhaust fans as needed in the living space, such as in the bathroom when the shower is in use.

-        If you have a basement, unfinished or finished, that has water issues when it rains, have it taken care of. Read more about that here.

-        If you have a dirt crawl space, the plastic laying on top of it frankly isn’t helping. Crawl spaces need to be fully encapsulated in conjunction with a dehumidifier and a sump pump. Learn more about that here.

About the author
Rosie Graves joined the Redeemers Group, Inc. team in January 2012. As part of the leadership team, she oversees the company's marketing, appointment center, and internal operations.

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