22 Weeks of Summer: Post #12 – Keeping Mold and Mildew at Bay When the Humidity Rises
Although the central PA area has been enjoying lower humidity the past few days, there’s little doubt that it’s going to get sticky again. (Remember all those Augusts when you felt like you were practically taking a bath just by walking outside?) From a personal standpoint, humidity can be a pain, but unless you have a medical condition exacerbated by it, your concerns are purely comfort-related. However, from a household point of view, humidity can be an enormous (and often costly) issue.
As the humidity rises outside, the humidity in your house will also rise (especially if you have chosen not to install any kind of air conditioning unit, or you haven’t kept up with your air conditioner’s maintenance over the years.) This means that the moisture level in all areas of your home could reach levels conducive to the development of mold spores. These spores reproduce at a fast rate, and can be tough to catch when they’re in the first stages. That’s why we always recommend that you head off their growth before it becomes an issue.
In order to tackle the potential mold and mildew issue, you have to reduce the humidity in your house to under 50-60 percent. (Experts vary as to the exact temperature where mold and mildew cannot thrive, likely because there are many different types of the fungi.)
To control the humidity, try these means:
Ventilation – Make sure all ductwork heading to the outdoors isn’t a two-way street. Send humid air out, but don’t allow humid air in. Vents are often found in bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens. You may also have a whole house fan that essentially sucks the humid air out of your residence via a large vent in the roof. (Don’t forget to vent your attic space; high humidity there can lead to mold and mildew. Though the spores may not be able to creep down into the living areas of your home, they can still cause respiratory, air quality and other problems.)
Air Filtration – As with ventilation, it’s important to maintain the air filter in your air conditioning unit. If the filter is filthy, it will be unable to help cleanse the air circulating throughout your property, and that means you could be allowing airborne mold spores to move around your house.
Dehumidification – If you haven’t invested in a dehumidifier, but are having difficulty keeping the humidity in your home under 60 percent, it’s time to take a trip to the home improvement store. Dehumidifiers need not be expensive, either. Do a little homework and make sure the model you choose is ideal for the square footage of your home.
Cleanliness – Mold and mildew gravitate toward dirty spots, so if you keep a clean house, you will be less likely to see a lot of spore growth. This means wiping up countertops, keeping the floors clean and paying special attention to those areas of the home that tend to add moisture to the air (e.g. the bathroom, kitchen and laundry). By eliminating dirt and moisture, mold and mildew will be less of a problem. You may also want to make sure you use a product that has been shown to remove or lessen the likelihood of mold spore development, such as tea tree oil, Borax, baking soda or bleach.
The end result of your diligence will be a reduced likelihood that mold and mildew will become houseguests!
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