Mold thrives in moist and humid conditions, and it's dangerous. You don't want it in your house. Fortunately, there are DIY mold prevention measures you can take to help eliminate moisture hot spots.
Like all fungi, mold reproduces by scattering spores. These spores are invisible to the naked eye. Once they attach themselves to a surface on the interior or exterior of your home, they grow out of control. And produce the next generation of spores.
Unmask the Mold Lurking in your Home with These DIY Mold-Fighting Techniques:
Seek and Destroy the Secret Hiding Spots of Mold
1. Inspect the interior of your home.
It’s worth your time to carry out a monthly mold inspection. Check your baseboards for discoloration caused by water leaks. Fix leaking faucets. Scrutinize appliances. Look at windows, doors, and frames. If you find mold, resolve the problem immediately.
2. Keep moisture-heavy rooms ventilated.
Always use the exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area. Install them if they're missing. And clean them twice a year. Also open windows in these rooms to circulate the air and prevent condensation from forming. Vent your dryer to the exterior of your house.
3. Maintain good airflow throughout the home.
When temperatures fall, the air can't hold as much moisture. Excess moisture may form on your walls, ceilings, windows, and doors. To prevent condensation, keep furniture back away from the walls and windows, open doors between rooms to improve air circulation, and use ceiling fans all year round.
4. Improve attic insulation.
R-value is a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it. Be sure your attic's insulation is within the appropriate R-value range to support a dry, temperature-controlled environment.
5. HVAC system efficiency.
If you have mold in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, airflow blows mold spores throughout your home. Moisture condensation is a major cause of mold in HVAC ducts. Mold growth can occur if your system is oversized or under-sized. It will then either cycle off before dehumidifying the room or it won’t take enough moisture out of the air, leading to condensation issues. You also want to avoid condensed moisture in the drain pan or condensation line.
6. Close windows and doors when running the air conditioner.
When you leave your windows or doors open while the air conditioner is running, you allow humid air into your home. This will cause condensation, which is an environment mold loves.
7. Protect your pipes.
Check pipes and water lines for cracks or leaks. Make sure your water pressure isn’t set too high, as this will shorten the life of your pipes and can lead to bursting. Insulate your pipes indoors and out to prevent moisture build-up.
We let warm air inside every time we open and close the refrigerator or freezer. Combine that with a lack of ventilation and a moisture-heavy environment, and you've got the perfect cocktail for mold. Mold prevention tips include cleaning gaskets and drip pans regularly, wiping up spills right away, and cleaning the interior with a white vinegar and water mix once a month. Also, be sure the doors seal properly or mold will form between the door seals (and on your food).
Mold forms in the filter, door gasket, interior walls, and the silverware basket. It is usually caused by wet food particles left behind after a cleaning cycle. Use the heat-dry function and leave the door open after each use. Run an empty cycle once a week and occasionally scrub the interior with a bleach and water mixture.
10. Washing machines.
+ Front-Load Washers
Front-loading machines are particularly prone to mold formation. Mold hides in the detergent drawer and the door seal. Don't let wet laundry sit in the machine and leave both the door and detergent drawer open for airflow when not in use. Spray the interior of your washing machine with white vinegar. You can also use a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and water to clean the drawer and door seals.
+ Top-Load Washers
Mold can lurk between the drum and interior walls. Don't use too much detergent and leave the lid open when not in use. Occasionally run an empty cycle with hot water and white vinegar.
11. Kitchen and bathroom sinks.
After using a sink, give the area around the faucet a quick wipe down to keep it dry. But more importantly, check the plumbing below the sinks frequently for leaks or moisture.
12. Bathroom showers and tubs.
Bathrooms are the most moisture-heavy and mold-prone rooms in your house. After a shower or bath, dry the interior walls, base, and faucet areas. Pay special attention to corners, edges, and caulking. Also wipe up the floor and all areas where the tub or shower fixture meets the walls or flooring. Always hang wet towels. And make sure to open a window or run the exhaust fan every time you shower.
13. Practice mold-resistant storage techniques.
Many of us store items in cardboard boxes placed against walls and on the floor. Any exposure to moisture or unbalanced humidity levels encourages mold growth. For proactive mold prevention, elevate storage containers 7 inches or more, use airtight storage containers for fabric and paper products, and cover stored furniture in plastic.
14. Clean your gutters annually.
Mold feeds off decomposing leaves and debris in your gutters. Although the mold can’t grow through the walls, the spores will go airborne and can enter your home through open doors and windows.
15. Keep water away from your home's exterior.
Check that the gutters and downspouts are working as designed - no overflow and no clogs. Ensure your sprinkler system is not directing water at exterior walls. Do not allow standing or pooling water to sit against the foundation or siding.
16. Use humidity meters.
It's best to keep the humidity level in your home between 30% to 50%. You can purchase inexpensive humidity meters to place in different areas of the house. If a room becomes too humid (which causes condensation, mold growth, and structural damage), use a dehumidifier and follow other tips in this list.
In Arizona's dry climate, the humidity level can fall too low at certain times of the year. You may experience dry skin, sinus issues, static electricity, and even structural damage. In that case, consider professional installation of a whole-house humidifier on your home’s HVAC system. It helps keep moisture in the air balanced without encouraging mold growth.
17. Invest in an air purifier unit.
When the air in your home gets stirred up (ex. ceiling fans, pets and kids, the A/C, open windows, opening and closing doors), it can spread mold spores to other areas of your home. If you own your home, consider installing a whole-house air purification system. Portable units are also available. Air purifiers extract mold spores from the air so that the mold cannot multiply.
Do You Suspect a Hidden Mold Problem in Your Home?
However, even the smallest patches of mold pose a health risk, especially for infants, the elderly, and anyone who suffers breathing or respiratory illness. To be safe, get laboratory mold testing and analysis from Arizona Total Home Restoration.
Be proactive about combatting mold. Armed with these mold prevention tips, you can do a lot to stop the spread of mold in common areas of your home before it gets out of control.