Shocked Woman Looking At Mold On Wall

Mold Prevention: Tips And Tactics

Sidney Richardson6-minute read
June 25, 2021

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No one wants a mold problem in their home – especially if they have asthma or a mold allergy. Mold can cause many health issues, whether you have allergies or not, including throat, skin and eye irritation.

To prevent mold from growing in your home, here are a few tips and tricks to keep it away.

What Is Mold Prevention?

Mold prevention is a strategy to stop mold from growing in your home. Since mold can be a potential health risk, taking actions to prevent it from spreading is vital. Reducing humidity and moisture levels to at least 50 – 60% is key, which can be done by air conditioning and ventilating a home properly.

Getting rid of mold once it’s already in your home can be difficult, so it’s best to take preventative measures so you won’t have to deal with mold removal or mold remediation in the first place.

What Causes Mold To Grow?

Mold loves moisture, but humidity and condensation aren’t the only things that can cause mold growth in your home. Mold is alive and needs water and “food” to survive, so there are some areas of your home where mold is far more likely to prosper based on what nutrients it has access to.

Here are a few key issues you might find in your own home that could lead to the spread of mold.

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Mold Spores

Mold spores are microscopic reproductive cells that drift through the air and eventually plant themselves on a surface where they will take in nutrients and begin to grow mold.

Mold loves moisture and feeds on rotting materials, so mold spores are found in higher densities in rural areas and places with higher humidity. Since mold spores often lead to mold growth in the right environment, it’s a good idea to try to make your home inhospitable to them.

While there is no possible way to eradicate all spores, you can reduce the chances of mold growth in your home by reducing humidity.

Humidity

Speaking of humidity, it is one of the biggest factors that helps mold thrive. Areas that are wet are perfect breeding grounds for mold. Humidity measures the amount of water vapor in the air – and if the air in your home is very humid – typically, exceeding 60% humidity – mold may move in and start spreading.

Some areas in your house are more likely to be humid than others. Places where you frequently use running water, such as your bathroom, kitchen or laundry room are common culprits – though mold is also commonly found in basements, crawl spaces, and other unsuspecting humid areas. If you find dark “spots” in your shower, tub, sink or even on your walls in these areas, mold may be starting to grow.

Leaking Pipes

Leaking pipes can also create a great environment for mold to grow in. Leaks you may be unaware of can create water damage over time that may stain and ruin walls. Water can also rot wood, over time, which will attract bugs as well.

Decaying surfaces, such as rotting wood or damaged drywall provide a good source of food for mold, so if leaking pipes are causing damage in your home, they are also creating the perfect mold habitat.

Condensation

Condensation occurs in the home most commonly on cold surfaces, typically ones closest to the outdoors. While it isn’t uncommon for condensation to form on windows and other similar surfaces in your house, you should attempt to get rid of it – condensation can cause damage and encourages mold and mildew growth.

A home with condensation on windows, pipes, tiles and/or walls indicates that there may be too much humidity in the home – possibly to the point where it is not only creating a habitat for mold and mildew, but is also causing unseen damages that won’t be so easy to clean up.

Poor Ventilation

Poor ventilation can also cause mold to grow in your home. If air isn’t circulating correctly in your home, it can become humid – which, as we know, is a recipe for mold growth. Bad air circulation can cause a host of other problems besides mold as well, so it’s a good idea to remedy this issue if you have it, whether you are concerned about mold or not.

You can usually tell if your home has poor ventilation by simply walking around. If there is a large, noticeable difference between temperatures in rooms, it feels “stuffy” and/or you have rusting pipes, your house probably has a ventilation issue.

Leaking Roof

A leak in your roof can create mold growth very quickly. Damage to your roof may allow water to pass through areas it should not and damage your home. Moisture trapped on a surface you cannot reach or see right away can become moldy very quickly without your knowledge – giving it more time to spread than it might have on other more noticeable surfaces.

Flooding 

Flooding is another obvious cause of mold for the usual reasons: it causes damage to your home, which creates surfaces mold can easily feed on such as rotting wood or damaged carpets or upholstery. It also creates a lot of moisture, making flood-damaged homes easy prey for mold growth.

Damp Basement

Basements are often dark and moist in general, but some problems can cause them to become even more moist and humid. Cracks in the foundation can allow unwelcome water in and inefficient or ineffective grading can cause water to drain into your basement rather than away from it as well.

To assure your basement is not more humid than it needs to be and you are not at risk of water damage, check regularly for cracks and other foundation damage. You should also assure that your basement is properly ventilated.

Leaking Air Conditioner

An air conditioner should keep excess moisture away from your home – but if your AC is malfunctioning or broken, it can do the opposite. Issues such as blocked drainage tubes can cause your air conditioner to leak water, which attracts mold growth. The only way to prevent your air conditioner from developing these counterproductive leaks is to schedule regular maintenance check-ups to make sure everything is operating properly.

Wet And Damp Clothing

While unwanted moisture in the home is typically the cause of mold growth, we can sometimes invite mold into our spaces accidentally as well. Mold can thrive on any surface that has nutrients for it to consume – including fabric. If you leave wet clothes in the washing machine or sitting out for too long, mold will grow on them the same as any other surface.

Mold on your clothes can be especially dangerous because it will come in contact with your skin and potentially cause irritation or other health issues. To prevent mold growth on articles of clothing, it’s best to dry wet clothes as quickly as possible.

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How To Prevent Mold From Forming

Now that you know what can cause mold in your home, how can you prevent these problems from occurring? Here are a few of our tips.

Control Humidity And Temperature

Since humidity is one of the main causes for mold, it is best to make sure your home never reaches a humidity level of 50 – 60%. Anywhere within the range of 30 – 50% is typically OK, with anything under 30% being a bit too dry and anything above 50% creating the risk of mold growth.

Temperature can also contribute to mold growth – mold likes warm, humid temperatures. While some molds can survive in the cold, they thrive more easily in hot temperatures.

To make sure your home is not too hot or humid, you should use an air conditioner if possible and always assure your home is well ventilated. Aside from running an AC unit, you should use fans to keep the air flowing and be sure to utilize exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom.

Invest In An Air Conditioner

As mentioned earlier, an air conditioner can work wonders in deterring mold from growing in your home. An AC unit removes heat and humidity from your home and replaces it with cooler air. The lack of heat and moisture will deter mold from growing or spreading. Air conditioners also help improve airflow in your home.

Ventilate Properly

Proper ventilation can also do a great deal for you in terms of deterring mold. Since mold thrives in moist areas with stagnant air, it can be beneficial to make sure fresh air is always moving throughout your home. You can do this in a number of ways, including:

  • Opening windows
  • Turning on exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen
  • Regularly replacing air filters in your home
  • Use fans – and make sure they are blowing toward open windows
  • Try not to gather many people in a single room

Maintain Your Basement

If you’re concerned about the humidity level in your basement, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air
  • Insulate water pipes
  • Reseal concrete to avoid condensation
  • Use fans to improve ventilation

The Bottom Line: No Moisture Means No Mold

Mold can grow and spread very quickly if your home is too humid or too warm. To avoid having to take measures to remove or remediate mold from your house, it’s a good idea to take preventative measures to ward off mold growth.

If there is already mold in your house, it may be too late to stop it. Check out our mold removal guide for help getting rid of existing mold in your home.

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Sidney Richardson

Sidney Richardson is an intern writer covering homeownership, mortgage and lifestyle topics. She is a senior at Oakland University pursuing a degree in journalism and advertising.