Nailing it Down — Stop encouraging mold growth in your home


This wet, mild weather we’ve been having not only makes it hard to get to your outside chores but also creates the perfect environment for growing mold inside your house.

Today and next week we’ll tell you what causes mold, what you can do to prevent it and how to get rid of it!

The way you live your life inside your house can encourage mold. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t need a lot of encouragement. It is something that you don’t need a green thumb to grow!

Yes, a leaky roof or other obvious water source into your house could definitely be a cause of mold. However, most people are surprised how much mold they encourage themselves just living their day-to-day lives.

DON’T ENCOURAGE IT!

Bringing in wet clothing and gear without drying it, letting a shaggy wet dog into your home, not using the fan when you cook, not leaving bathroom fans on long enough, not using a fan or opening a window to let moisture escape while doing laundry can all contribute to the growth of mold.

Another classic paradox this time of year is folks not wanting to pay high heating bills, so they keep the temperature down low or off in spare bedrooms or other parts of the house they don’t use much. If heat can’t get to a room, the lower temperature and moisture can be perfect conditions for mold and mildew to take over that end of the house!

Mold especially likes moist little corners – such as closets that don’t have fresh air circulating. So, occasionally open up your closets to the rest of the house, letting some warm, fresh air in.

While you’re at it, make sure there aren’t piles of clothes, papers, etc. — especially along any exterior wall. Those walls are colder and dust, dirt and any kind of other material such as clothe or paper can feed mold.

WHAT IS MOLD?

You may be asking, “Just what is mold, anyway?”

Molds are a subset of the fungi family and are an essential part of the world’s ecological system. (Essential as they are, they don’t need to reside in your house!)

This tiny plant comes in a variety of sizes and colors including black, white, green and brown. It slowly consumes what it is living on — wood, paper, leather, wallboard, household dust, carpet, food, etc.

To reproduce, mold produces tiny spores that waft through the air continually. (Have you ever noticed during the late-day slanted sunlight how much dust is in the air in your home? With pets that amount is even more!)

When a mold spore lands on a damp spot indoors, it may begin growing and digesting whatever it is growing on.

In addition to what we’ve mentioned above, favorite spots for mold include damp areas such as unvented bathrooms and kitchens, on aluminum sash or mono pane windows, in poorly vented crawl or attic spaces, utility tunnels, gym areas and locker rooms. Mold also likes to congregate in damp basements and garages and along wet foundations.

MORE WAYS TO AVOID MOLD

Here are some additional ways to avoid mold growth in your home:

• Take note of musty odors, look for signs of mold and get rid of the moisture source.

• Watch for condensation and wet spots and eliminate sources of moisture.

• Prevent moisture resulting from condensation by either increasing surface temperature or reducing moisture levels in the air. To reduce moisture levels, repair leaks and increase ventilation.

• Vent the clothes dryer to the outdoors, never to the underside of the house!

• Clean and dry any wet or damp areas as soon as possible.

• Provide drainage for roof rainwater and maintain the ground with a slope that drains water away from the foundation.

• Repair water leaks in the building as soon as possible.

• Do not store organic materials such as paper, books, clothes, etc., in humid locations such as unconditioned basements.

MORE ON MOLD NEXT WEEK

We hope that gives you something to think about and do this week. Inspect your house for mold and next week we’ll get you information on how to destroy it once you’ve found it.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County. Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.