Mold is a type of fungus that exists in many forms throughout the natural world. It is technically a type of fungus that spreads its presence by releasing spores. When mold spores enter your home, they have the potential to land on various surfaces. In ideal conditions, it can spread very quickly. Some types of mold that establish a colony in your home even have the potential to damage structures and seriously affect your health.
Ideal Conditions For Mold To Grow In Your Home
Mold spores are incredibly tiny, which allows these microbes to float for great distances in the air. When they land in a moist, damp, or dark environment they have the potential to grow. Left unchecked they can develop into a large colony, that reduces even more spores into the air. This allows even a small mold problem in one area to gradually affect your entire home!
Just like many other problems, prevention is the best strategy for keeping mold out of your house. This means being diligent about maintaining proper moisture levels throughout your home, which needs to include the kitchen and bathroom.
You also need to be proactive about maintaining your home. Even a seemingly minor roof leak, plumbing leak, or persistent moisture in the foundation can lead to a much larger mold problem in the long term.
The Threat Of Indoor Humidity
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends maintaining indoor humidity levels between 30 to 60% to reduce the chances of mold developing. It’s also worth bearing in mind that mold prefers to grow in warmer conditions. It tends to flourish between 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Noticeably condensation around your home’s windows is often an indicator that the indoor moisture levels are too high. If you’ve noticed a problem like this, a simple dehumidifier may help bring down the ambient humidity to safe levels. You might want to also take a closer look at your home’s ventilation.
A properly vented home tends to carry excess moisture out of commonplace. This is often necessary for places like the bathroom or kitchen where moisture tends to linger after use. If diligent use of the bathroom ventilation fan or the kitchen’s hood fails to manage moisture control, you might want to keep a dehumidifier in those rooms or purchase a large dehumidifier for a nearby room, that is capable of handling the appropriate square footage.
The Ideal Conditions For Mold
Of course, moisture is just one of the key components for mold spores to get established. There are other conditions, including surface conditions that can promote mold growth and increase its presence in your home. This includes
- An available food source, which might include things like cotton, wood, and even damp drywall.
- Darkness promotes mold growth as it is vulnerable to UV light.
- Warm conditions, as mold cannot grow in the cold, yet still can remain dormant at freezing temperatures.
- Consistent moisture from water leaks or excessive humidity or otherwise moist conditions.
Ultimately, moisture problems are the most likely culprit, as mold simply cannot live without it. This means that the best preventative measure is to control the ambient moisture levels in your home.
Humid Weather Can Contribute To Mold Growth
Mold is a special type of fungus. As such it needs moisture to live and thrive. Of course, humidity outside your home eventually starts to impact the humidity inside your home. Anytime that it rains persistently for several days, or the local humidity is very high, it provides mold with the ideal conditions to grow and flourish.
This is also true for homes located near bodies of water. The constant presence of water and the heat of the sun can lead to evaporation, which increases the local humidity. While this is more likely to happen near a large body of water like the ocean or a very large lake, it can occur on the small scale near smaller bodies of water as well.
Leaking Pipes Can Cause Mold
Pipes that leak at a seam or that develop enough condensation to drip can also promote mold growth. In some of these situations, the leak might be in a place that’s hard to detect, which allows mold to secretly grow in your home.
Roof Leaks Can Cause Mold
As a roof gets older, it’s natural for things to change. Storms with high winds can lift shingles and damage their once secure relationship with the underlying roof boards, or even pull a nail loose. Fasteners on tin roofs can start to weaken after years of expansion and contraction caused by the change of seasons. Even the seals holding flashing and ice water shielding can start to weaken.
When this happens the problem often starts out relatively small. A minor roof leak in the attic might even go undetected for years, yet it provides mold with the moisture it needs to grow.
Cold Surfaces And Mold
On the face of it, cold wouldn’t seem like it could contribute to mold growth. Mold technically needs warmth to grow and propagate itself. Yet condensation on cold surfaces like metal pipes and concrete floors can sometimes provide enough moisture for mold to establish a persistent presence.
Wet Clothes Can Host Mold
Wet clothes that aren’t laundered in a reasonable amount of time can provide mold with enough moisture and surface area to breed. If they are left in a closet, the mold spores on wet clothing can potentially pass to the carpeting.
Flooding Is A Leading Cause Of Mold
Flooding is one of the most common causes of mold. Water pours into a home causing massive amounts of damage. It can also leave behind deposits of water in hard to see and hard to reach places. In ideal conditions like this mold might be able to establish a foothold in a little over one day!
Damp Basements Can Cause Mold
For some homes, the basement is a place seldom visited. Moisture or persistent humidity in this dark and often poorly ventilated space can provide mold with a suitable home to grow unnoticed and unfettered. This is even more likely to be an issue in a crawl space with an exposed soil floor.
Water leaks in a home can also contribute to mold in the basement. While a leaky pipe may be the culprit, something as simple as a loose gutter on the roofline with a basement window that doesn’t fully seal can also lead to excess water deposits as well as high humidity.
Foundation Issues Can Lead to Mold Problems
Many foundations are made from poured concrete or cinder blocks. This causes the foundation to sort of float in the surrounding soil like a boat drifted on calm water. Over time the soil can start to shift due to changes in the seasonal weather and things like the freeze-thaw effect.
As time goes on this micromotion in the soil can cause cracks in the foundation of your home. Once this happens, any water that pools up near your foundation can seep into the basement. This is even more likely to be an issue with older homes that don’t have an effective drain-tile system around the base.