How to effectively control mold by controlling moisture?
It takes good building practices, which include:
• Good architectural design
• Quality building materials
• Manufacturing, shipping and storing building materials in a manner that keeps them dry before and during construction
• Building materials that are more susceptible to water damage should not be delivered to the construction site until they are ready to be installed
• Once building materials are delivered to the construction site, they should be covered by waterproof tarps
• In addition, it is important to keep building materials clean and dry. Soiled building materials provide a ready place for mold to grow
• Attention to the order in which building materials are installed so that items susceptible to moisture are not installed until the building is sufficiently enclosed
• Installation of insulation without gaps, folds or voids
• Using a continuous weather-resistant barrier with exterior walls
• Covering crawlspaces to control moisture
• Using exhaust fans to control moisture in bathrooms and kitchens
• Good maintenance procedures to keep dry buildings dry, which means that when a leak or a source of moisture is identified, it should be addressed as soon as possible
Are mold-resistant products the answer?
Mold-resistant materials play an important role in minimizing mold growth. The RSMC encourages everyone who is about to build or remodel a home to visit the Web sites of various building material manufacturers to read about innovative new mold-fighting products. However, if mold-resistant products are installed improperly, they offer little protection from the eventual growth of mold. Mold will grow on anything. It has nothing to do with whether the surface in question is organic (paper or wood, for example) or inorganic (glass, fiberglass or steel).
What are some mold-avoidance strategies?
One place to start is to reduce humidity to a range of 30 to 60 percent. Inexpensive devices that measure humidity can be purchased at electronics stores. Reducing humidity can be accomplished by venting to the outdoors bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources such as showers, stoves and dishwashers. During the summertime, air conditioners and dehumidifiers can make a difference. If you live in a cooler, less humid environment, you can also minimize mold by opening doors and windows to increase airflow whenever practical. Also, reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces by adding insulation around windows, piping, exterior walls, roofing and floors. Don’t install carpeting in areas where there is perpetual moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens or on concrete floors that may become damp. If you have a humidifier on your furnace, be sure to turn it off during the summer months.
What should I do if I find mold in my home or office?
There are a variety of sources of useful information on mold control and removal listed at the end of this brochure. If you discover mold, try to find the source of the moisture and correct it as soon as possible. If there is a small patch of mold, you can clean it with a combination of detergent or household cleaners and warm water. The area should be rinsed with clear water and then dried thoroughly. It’s important to avoid soaking the damaged area, thereby setting the stage for the return of mold. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, wallboard and carpet that become moldy may need to be replaced. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, wear rubber gloves and discard both the gloves and your cleaning cloths when you’re done. If you discover that mold has grown across large areas, you should contact a mold abatement specialist. These companies can help eradicate the mold, as well as identify and eliminate the source of moisture that is causing the problem.
Moisture control and best building practices are the key to fighting mold
At the end of the day, there is only one truly effective strategy to eliminate mold: embrace best building practices and eliminate sources of unwanted moisture and water. There is an important role for mold-resistant products when the unexpected leak or flood occurs, but there are no “silver bullet” solutions to avoiding or eradicating mold. Buildings must be well built and well maintained to eliminate mold.