Preventing Mold in Winter

Black mold buildup in the corner of an old house
Black mold buildup in the corner of an old houses 

Did you know that mold can be a problem in the winter too? When you deprive mold of moisture, warmth, and food, you will stop it from growing, but you won’t kill the mold that is already there. The mold spores will stay dormant and start growing again if they get moisture, warmth, and food. Airborne spores that spawn mold may infiltrate the house at any time of year. What’s more, active mold growth can survive at temperatures far lower than typically maintained inside an occupied house during winter.

Freezing water expands causing cracks in your home in which water can get in between the walls of your home. This moisture can spur hidden mold growth that you might not notice until it is too late. There are ways to prevent mold from growing inside your home during the winter.

Turning on the heat makes the air in your home very dry. Many people combat the dryness by using a humidifier. If you do use a humidifier make sure that your indoor humidity level is below 40 percent. If you use a humidifier, as many of us do in the winter, make sure it does not produce an excessive amount of humidity.

Remove possible sources of mold growth by regularly vacuuming and cleaning. Pay close attention to bathrooms and other areas of your home that are likely to generate a lot of moisture. It only takes 24 hours for dampness to turn into a full-blown mold problem.

Use area rugs or washable floor surfaces rather than wall-to-wall carpeting in areas or rooms that have a moisture issue. It’s not usually a great idea to have carpeting in your entryway. Snowy, wet boots can soak into carpeting creating a perfect breeding ground for mold.

Paper, books, and clothing are sources of food for mold; so don’t store them in humid parts of your home, such as your basement—especially close to the floor or walls.

Make sure your windows are properly sealed; moisture from the warm air condenses on cool glass, if there are cracks or spaces around your windows mold can form in those cracks.

Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean and that the area under your downspouts is graded so that water from the roof flows away from your foundation. If water pools around your home think about extending your downspouts.

In the bathroom and kitchen use exhaust fans or open windows when producing moisture, such as taking a hot shower. Exhaust fans should be vented to the outdoors and not to an attic or crawl space.

Consider getting a dehumidifier for your basement. If you have a crawl space under your house cover the soil in the crawl space with waterproof polyethylene plastic.