How mold develops in homes
Mold begins with a spore
In order for mold to develop, three things are necessary, mold spores, moisture, and organic material. Although you might not see them, the air carries millions of microscopic mold spores in search of a suitable environment to begin its life cycle. Mold is a fungus, and like most fungi, they thrive in wet, humid environments. In most homes, mold is found near pipe leaks, windows, and bathrooms, where condensation occurs frequently. When mold establishes itself in a home, it uses a network of filaments called ‘hyphae’ to penetrate the structure of the house, where it can consume organic materials by using digestive enzymes. Molds consume organic materials like wood, the paper that covers drywall, and even dust, which is mostly dead skin cells.
What causes condensation?
Condensation occurs when warm air full of water vapor makes contact with cooler surfaces, like windows, mirrors, and tile. When water vapor makes contact with a cool surface, it reaches the dew point, where water condenses into water droplets. If ventilation and air conditioning are not provided, the moisture may concentrate and penetrate small openings, inviting molds to develop from within walls and areas like window sills.
Ways to prevent mold from developin
- Having ventilation while cooking, showering and drying clothes.
- Covering pots and pans to prevent water vapor from being released into the air.
- Fixing leaks in the plumbing, roofing, and damage from weather, like flooding.
- Checking and maintaining the H.V.A.C system of the home.
- Using a dehumidifier, especially in spaces where ventilation is not adequate and air conditioners are not effective, like basements, and attics.
Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Dehumidifiers
Having adequate ventilation, and effective air conditioning in the home are important tools that help prevent mold from having optimal growing conditions. Ventilation can be as simple as opening a window to release water vapor while cooking, or turning on the air fan in the bathroom before turning on the hot water of a shower. Besides moisture, molds also like stale air where humid air can concentrate. Air conditioning helps circulate moist air out of rooms and regulates the ambient temperature. Dehumidifiers may not always be necessary, but can play an important role in removing moisture from spaces in a home without adequate ventilation, and where air-conditioning is not effective.
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