Mold is a serious problem for many homes and people. According to the CDC, it’s been linked to respiratory problems in otherwise healthy people, and it can cause damage to areas that it’s found on. EPA advise that once you find mold, you need to act fast, as it can begin to cause these issues within just 24 to 48 hours after it takes hold.
For vacation rentals, this can be even more concerning, as you may be potentially risking the health of guests as well. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to help keep mold at bay.
These 9 tips are designed to keep your home mold-free, even after the heaviest of rains.
1. Start with Remediation
If you already have mold, it will continue to spread if not dealt with. And while it is possible to clean a small area of mold yourself, once it spreads, you need to get professional help.
Mold remediation is a process in which a professional company will come out, assess the problem, and help you determine a plan of action. This may involve tearing out mold-affected areas, cleaning mold off surfaces, and helping to stop the spread of mold.
By beginning your mold prevention plan with remediation, you start with a clean slate. This can help prevent a more serious problem, where mold may be growing in places you can’t see.
2. Monitor Humidity Levels
Mold grows best in damp areas and very humid spaces. If you’re able to monitor the humidity levels in your home, you can help catch mold before it starts to grow. Mold begins to grow at indoor humidity levels that rise above 60%.
You want to keep your indoor levels between 30% and 50% for the best indoor conditions. If you notice that you have areas that are consistently rising above 60% humidity, you can take further steps to prevent mold in those areas.
Possible spaces you’ll want to keep an eye on include your attic, basement, and crawlspaces, as well as your bathrooms and other damp areas of the home.
3. Install a Dehumidifier
If you notice that you have consistently high humidity, one way of reducing it, and thereby reducing mold growth, is to install or use a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers dry out the air, condensing the moisture and removing it, so your overall humidity levels are lower.
If you happen to notice that you’ve got higher than the recommended humidity levels in one or more areas of your home, or if you’ve dealt with mold before, a dehumidifier can go a long way toward preventing its growth, even on a rainy day or when the humidity levels outside are high.
4. Add Attic Ventilation
Your attic humidity levels may be higher than the levels in the rest of your home. This is because warm air rises from the living area below, and gets trapped up in the attic where it condenses. This can lead to mold and mildew begin to grow in your attic.
What you need to do to prevent this is to get the air moving in the attic by installing proper ventilation, which includes a ridge vent and attic fans to circulate the air. As air moves naturally through the attic, it will pull the humidity out with it, helping to prevent mold.
5. Install a Bathroom Fan
Just as attic ventilation is designed to deal with the risk of moisture there, bathroom fans are designed to help remove moisture from the air in this area as well.
A bathroom vent will pull the steamy, moisture-laden air out of your bathroom and vent it safely outside your home. This is ideal for bathrooms that don’t get natural ventilation, such as a window, which can mean that they stay damp for long periods of time, resulting in mold growth.
A bathroom fan or vent can help get the moisture out of the air, which will speed drying time for everything inside, including towels, tiles, and floors.
6. Keep Water Away from your Home
If your home is in a low-lying area, is in an area that sees heavy rainfall, or has had water infiltration in the past, you may want to invest in a system that can help redirect groundwater away from your home.
French drains help channel water away from your foundation and sump pumps, which help get rid of water that has entered can both keep your basement or ground level floor dryer. This will help inhibit mold growth that often follows heavy rain.
7. Install Mold Resistant Materials
Some materials grow mold better than others. If you have problem areas that see a lot of mold growth, consider installing materials there, such as water-resistant wallboard, that can help prevent mold growth.
There are also primers that can be applied to surfaces below paint that can also inhibit mold growth. This is a good solution if you’ve had mold in the past and are attempting to prevent an issue from occurring again.
You can use things like the wallboard beneath tile in a shower or for basement walls, while materials like porcelain flooring can be a good option for inhibiting mold growth on ground surfaces.
8. Clean and Repair Gutters
Rain gutters are an important part of keeping your home moisture and mold-free. Make sure they’re in good working order to prevent water from backing up under your roof and causing attic mold growth.
Gutters need to ideally be cleaned at least twice a year. Many people know to clean them in the fall, but evergreen trees lose their needles year-round, and can be one of the biggest causes of gutter clogs, so make sure you clean them twice yearly and have them inspected at the same time for the best results.
9. Use Moisture Management House Wrap or Insulation
If putting new siding on the home, make sure that the house wrap or insulation material used on the building envelope is designed for moisture management to let water vapor escape. This prevents mold from growing in walls.
If the wrap or insulation is not designed for moisture management, they may trap water vapor inside your walls, which can lead to condensation and later mold growth.
If you live in an area that also sees heavy rain, a rain channel wrap can be further protection, keeping water out of your walls where it may collect behind siding.
Keep Your Property Free of Mold
Preventing mold growth can also prevent property damage and health problems. In many cases, mold prevention may need to be a layered project, involving more than one of these steps. Take the steps necessary to protect your home from mold, and rest assured that you’re avoiding some of the serious complications mold can bring.
For vacation rentals, this can be even more concerning, as you may be potentially risking the health of guests as well.
About the Author
Yuka Kato is an Industry Analyst at Fixr.com, the online provider of cost guides, comparisons, and term cheatsheets for hundreds of remodeling, installation and repair projects.
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