It seems like every day there is a story on the news talking about the dangers of indoor mold. Not only can mold devastate the look of your home, but it can also pose a very serious threat to your health. There are even some people who have adverse health problems, including complications with chronic inflammation, and respiratory distress.
While toxic black mold is the most dangerous strain of mold that can infest an indoor environment, even seemingly benign strains of mold can cause a problem. Once a mold colony is established, the airborne mold spores and attached mycotoxins can cause respiratory problems for vulnerable people with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory health conditions.
How Does Mold Get Into A Home?
Mold is technically a type of fungus that lives everywhere in the natural world. Every day millions of microscopic mold spores float around in the breeze looking for a place to land. If they find a warm, moist, porous surface, the mold spore can germinate into an active colony in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Since mold spores are microscopic they can easily float through open doors and even though the screens on your windows. The most common rooms in a home where mold might be found include the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. Not to mention basements, crawlspaces, and even attics where an unknown water leak has allowed excess moisture to build up.
What Should I Do When I Find Mold In My Home?
A lot of people see a discolored splotch on a wall or woodwork in the bathroom, and their first instinct is to open a window and spray some random disinfectant on the mold colony. Though this might not always be the best idea. Knowing when and whether you should open a window when you find mold depends on several factors, including the outside weather.
When Opening Windows Won’t Help Deal With Mold
Opening the window won’t have any positive effect if the outside humidity is higher than 60%. In fact, opening the window when it’s very humid outside, can create a condition where mold will continue to grow.
Mold needs moisture to grow and thrive. If you find mold, and your air conditioner or dehumidifier is keeping indoor humidity low, opening the window to let in outside humidity might end up doing more harm than good.
The same logic applies when it’s raining, as it just lets in more humidity, which gives mold colonies the opportunity to increase your home’s moisture and humidity. Opening a window in times like this is ultimately counterproductive as it will create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive.
If you find a large area of mold that is more than roughly 10 square feet, it’s best to keep the air in the room as still as possible. The last thing you want to do is disturb the colony causing it to release mold spores and mycotoxins into the air.
A sudden blast of wind could end up sending vigorous mold spores into your vents or other parts of your home. You might manage to deal with one mold colony only to find yourself faced with multiple indoor mold colonies a few weeks or even months later.
Times When Opening A Window Can Help Deal With Mold
Mold spores need warmth, and moisture to germinate, grow and thrive. If the conditions in your home are warm and humid, but it is cool and dry outside, opening a window can serve to inhibit mold growth.
It can be especially helpful in rooms where mold is prone to develop such as kitchens, basements, lesser-used rooms on lower floors, laundry rooms, and bathrooms.
What Is “Burping” A Room
Burping a room is a layman’s term for opening a window to let out the humidity and mold spores. Sometimes burping in a room helps release dangerous spore and mycotoxin buildup before cleaning up a small mold colony. This calls for opening the window and leaving it open for at least 10 minutes before closing it. Though you should only attempt to Burp a room by opening the windows if the outside conditions are cold and dry.
Ways To Limit & Control Mold
There are a lot of different ways to limit and control mold in your home. Many of them are relatively easy, and might even be more effective than opening a window in a moment of distress.
Keep Humidity Low In The Summertime
The high humidity of summer can be one of mold’s best friends. By strategically placing a dehumidifier in at-risk areas like the basement, laundry room, and downstairs guest bedrooms you help rob mold spores of the moisture they need to germinate into an active mold colony.
Making sure that everyone in the family uses the bathroom vent when showering helps reduce the ambient humidity mold often needs to exploit bathroom woodwork and ceilings. The same goes for always using the vent hood over your kitchen stove top when boiling water.
Dry Clothes In The Dryer
Hanging wet laundry in the house adds to the ambient moisture levels. At the same time, the porous nature of most fabrics offers mold a surface to establish a foothold. Make sure to always dry your clothes in a dryer or hang them outside on a wash line on a sunny, windy day.
Make Necessary Repairs
Roof leaks, failing gutters, leaking pipes, and cracks in your foundation are just some of the common ways that moisture can make its way into your home. Making sure to keep up with all the necessary repairs and routine maintenance around your home help rob mold spores of the moisture they need to germinate. It also prevents current mold colonies from spreading.
If you happen upon a previously unknown mold colony, you don’t need to necessarily open the window. Especially if it’s raining or humid outside. If possible close, cover or seal the vents in the room, and perhaps place a dehumidifier near the mold colony.
You shouldn’t attempt to clean up a large patch of mold on your own. The cleaning products sold at the retail level are rarely potent enough to kill mold. Worse still, you might accidentally end up disturbing the colony by releasing mold spores and irritating mycotoxins into the air.
It’s best to leave mold remediation to the professionals who have the tools and training to safely eliminate all traces of mold from your home.