Moisture and Mold Problems: Preventing and Solving Them in Your Home
Top Tips for Controlling Mold continued...
Around the house:
Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air.
Keep indoor humidity below 60% if possible. You can measure relative humidity with a hygrometer, an inexpensive instrument available at many hardware stores.
Keep air conditioning drip pans clean. Make sure drain lines are free of obstructions and flow properly.
Keep the house warm in cool weather. As the temperature goes down, the air is less able to hold moisture and it condenses on cold surfaces, which can encourage mold growth.
Add insulation to cold surfaces, such as exterior walls, floors, and windows to reduce condensation.
Dry wet areas within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Fix leaks and seepage. The ground should slope away from your house. If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing.
Have a heating and cooling contractor check your heating and cooling system to make sure it's sized and operating properly to remove humidity. If your system is too big or the airflow is incorrect, your air conditioner will not remove humidity like it should. Also, ask the contractor to check your duct system for air leaks, and proper size and air flow to each room.
Open doors between rooms to increase circulation, which carries heat to cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners.
In the kitchen:
Use exhaust fans to move moisture outside (not into the attic) whenever you are cooking, washing dishes, or cleaning.
Turn off certain appliances if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
Check for leaks around the kitchen sink, refrigerator ice makers, and other sources of water. Repair if necessary.
Empty and clean refrigerator drip pans if necessary.
In basements and crawl spaces:
Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawl spaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. If there is standing water or the soil is wet, dry it out with fans before covering the floor.
Be sure crawl spaces are well ventilated by using fans and having vents installed in outside walls if necessary.
Consider painting concrete floors and using area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet in basements. If you plan to install carpet over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
Have your basement floor checked for leaks and have them repaired if necessary. Water can enter your home by leaking or by seeping through basement floors or walls.
Make sure gutters are working properly and that outdoor landscaping causes water to run away from -- not toward -- the house.
Do not finish basement walls with insulation and wall board unless your basement is very dry.