Mildew and Mold Prevention
Breathe easy by addressing mold and mildew head on
By Stevie Donald
Mildew is a simple plant that flourishes in humid, warm areas. Mold spores are everywhere in the air, but when they settle on damp surfaces, they can grow unchecked into mildew fields, discoloring and damaging paint, carpet and fabrics. Under some conditions, mildew produces potentially harmful mycotoxins, which can aggravate asthma and cause respiratory problems. Mildew prevention is simply a matter of controlling humidity and increasing your home's ventilation.
- What You Need to Know
- Proper ventilation, preventing leaks, waterproofing, and using vents and fans are some ways to stay mold and mildew-free.
Check your attic for evidence of roof leaks and perform necessary repairs. A very small leak that results in permanent dampness in the attic will provide a lush breeding ground for mildew.
Periodically inspect plumbing and water pipes, especially in your basement. Caulk around exterior windows and doors and seal cracks between concrete slab and your home's foundation. Preventing water from entering your home is an important step in mildew prevention. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the way to control mold is to control moisture.
Waterproof concrete or block basement walls and floors with masonry water-proofer paint. This will provide a seal against water seepage, which is common in many older homes with basements.
Make sure the soil around your home is sloping away from the foundation. Keep gutters and downspouts in good repair and install downspout extensions to direct water away from your home.
Protect exterior wood by using stains and sealants containing mildewcides. All quality 100-percent acrylic exterior paints are formulated to prevent mildew growth. Use paint containing mildewcide for humid interior rooms like bathrooms. Powdered mildewcides can be added to paint and are available at most paint stores.
Use vents and fans whenever doing anything that creates humidity like bathing, cooking, dishwashing and using the clothes dryer. Make sure the moist air is directed outside.
Avoid using carpeting in any part of the house where moisture is an ongoing issue. Water-resistant, easy-to-clean flooring is best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements.
Have your heating and cooling system checked annually for leaks or condensation. Use HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestance) filters to purify indoor air. These can be installed as part of your heating and cooling system and are also available as portable units. HEPA filtration removes mold spores and other contaminants from the air.
Put a dehumidifier in the basement or any other room that tends to stay humid. If you live in a warm, humid climate, consider a whole-house dehumidifier to control the growth of mold and mildew. A whole-house dehumidifier is installed in the same duct work as your heating and cooling system and can keep the humidity in your home low. Mildew will not grow unless there's enough moisture in the air. According to the Family and Consumer Science Extension of North Carolina State University, mildew will not grow when the relative humidity of indoor air is less than 50 percent.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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