March 2006
Mold Proof Your Home

“Mold can be a serious hazard,” said Sharon H. Cook, an indoor air quality specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service. “Mold could trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions if you don't take some measure to prevent it.”

Mold could be growing in your home today without you knowing. Are specific areas in your home warmer than others or do any rooms seem stuffy?

If so, mold could be the culprit. It thrives in moist areas around your home, mainly in bathrooms, kitchens, attics or basements. These areas have similarities—warm air, moisture buildup, poor ventilation and are sometimes unclean.

Warm areas have a greater chance of trapping moisture. And poorly ventilated areas leave moisture no escape.

Leaks around your home also cause moisture problems. Minor leaks in the roof or plumbing may not be a problem now, but can lead to bigger problems in the future if not fixed. Warm air from hot baths or cooking leads to moisture buildup as it accumulates.

“Exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms are under used,” Cook says. “They are the main ways to draw moisture out of the house.”

Attics and crawl spaces also require ventilation. Attic ventilation provides an escape for moisture that comes through the ceiling. Water vapor also builds up in crawl spaces unless they're vented to the outside.

Basements trap moisture resulting in increased humidity levels, a distinct odor and mold growth. Dehumidifiers reduce moisture in the air and keep the basement dry.

Moisture condensation often accumulates on windows and doors. As the glass tends to be the coolest surface of a home, install storm windows to reduce condensation.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service offers simple ways to control moisture in your home.

  • Decrease bathing time.
  • Don't over-boil liquids while cooking.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Vent appliances to the outside.
  • Open windows often to allow circulation when the humidity level outdoors is not too high.
  • Use a dehumidifier and exhaust fan.
If mold already exists in your home, fight back. The Extension Service offers suggestions to remove mold and prevent future growth.
Fix the moisture problem. Mold can't grow without moisture.
  • Dry wet materials immediately.
  • Treat or dispose contaminated materials.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.
  • Stay alert to future moisture problems.
Cleaning mold is only a temporary solution. Most often it grows back. “You can do all the cleaning in the world, but it won't help until you get rid of the source,” Cook adds.

To learn more about household mold, log on to www.fcs.uga.edu/housing. Don't let mold take over your home—correct moisture problems so your family can breath safe, clean air.