Preventing Mold and Mildew Growth
The terms mold and mildew are generally used to describe the same thing in the home: fungi growing on surfaces and causing damage or stains - and potentially even health problems. Mildew is more often used in describing fungi in the bathroom or on clothing.
Both mold and mildew survive and spread by absorbing nutrients from living or dead organic material. For this reason, they can be found growing on cellulose materials - such as cotton, linen, paper and wood - and protein substances - such as wool, leather, silk and more. Temperatures between 75 and 85 F are the most hospitable to mold and mildew growth, as is humidity over 50 percent. To help prevent mold and mildew from settling in, any moisture problems in the home need to be addressed.
How to do it
- Basement - Warm, moist air condensing on cool walls and floors can create a breeding ground for mildew. Improving wall insulation, heating the basement and using a dehumidifier can help make sure fungi doesn't have a place to grow. An exhaust fan can remove excess water.
- Crawl space - Make sure all ground outside the home slopes away from the foundation. If soil is exposed in the crawl space, cover it with a layer of plastic after first removing any standing water. Foundation vents at the top corners of the space can also help. One square foot of venting for every 150 square feet of floor area above is ideal. Make sure nothing blocks the vents.
- Closets - Leave closet doors open as much as possible, hang clothes loosely and never hang up wet clothing. Louvered closet doors (with slots) can provide ventilation if the closet is often closed, and small closet heaters can be used to prevent moisture.
- High-moisture areas - The kitchen, laundry room and bathroom can add gallons of moisture to the home each day. Proper ventilation, often in the form of exhaust fans, is necessary when water is being used in these areas. Fans can still be used in the winter, but should be run for shorter periods of time. Let the shower curtain hang loose to dry it out quickly, and hang the floor mat over the tub or on a towel rack. Clothes dryers should be vented outside the home, never into the attic or crawl space.
If these preventive measures have begun too late, then removing mold is the next course of action. You may want to look into self mold removal, or you many want to hire a professional for mold removal.