One of the questions that we get asked most often is, “how do you prevent mold?” Preventing mold, and specifically black mold from growing in your home is a hot topic these days with interest in indoor air quality a health priority. Mold is a fungus that is constantly present throughout our homes and offices, so anyone who has an expectation that they can remove it completely should understand that this is nearly impossible, with a few exceptions (think NASA, surgical operating rooms, etc.). The war on mold is never-ending. So instead of asking how do you prevent mold, try to change your expectations and instead ask how do you reduce mold to healthier levels. In this article, we will discuss how to prevent mold and how your secret weapon in combatting mold growth in your home might surprise you – it isn’t bleach or 409 – it’s your air conditioner!
Preventing Mold in Your Home.
Before you can answer the question, “how do you prevent mold?” you must first have an understanding of what mold is and what it needs to live. Mold reproduces by spreading its spores into the air which then settle into a substrate, forming new colonies and repeating the cycle. It requires three components for it to grow: a viable organic compound, warmth and moisture. The key to combating mold and reducing the amount of mold in your home is to remove any one of these three components. This will help break the cycle and retard the growth of mold and other funguses. Mold cannot grow without an organic substrate or without moisture and it needs warmth to thrive.
Mold can be the cause for all sorts of respiratory health problems, including chronic cough, wheezing and an increased incidence of asthma attacks. Even if the mold in your home isn’t prevalent enough to cause these symptoms, it can cause a disgusting stench in your house, especially if it gets into your air conditioning system. If mold and mildew infiltrate your air conditioner, the result is called “dirty sock syndrome,” a foul, locker-room smell that spreads throughout your house. For more information on this and how to prevent it, take a look at: Dirty Sock Syndrome – What is it and how do I fix it?
5 Tips to Prevent Mold Growth
1. Keep your air conditioner on at all times to prevent the growth of mold.
Ever wonder why your air conditioner is called an air conditioner, instead of an air cooler? Simply put, it doesn’t just cool your air, but it conditions your air by removing moisture. Remember that moisture is one of the three required ingredients that are essential for mold growth, so keep your AC system on at all times if possible. If you keep your AC off because it is loud, check out: “Why is my air conditioner so loud?” for quick fixes you can do to make your AC more quiet.
2. Ensuring that your attic has fans will minimize mold growth in your attic.
Attic fans can be electrical or wind powered, but don’t get too wrapped around the axel on this because either will do. Your attic isn’t air conditioned like your house is, so keep it well ventilated to reduce the amount of mold that can grow and spread into your home or business.
3. Use a UV filter to prevent mold in your HVAC system.
This one is especially important if someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, ask your local HVAC contractor about a UV filter – adding a UV filter to your HVAC system regulates mold spores and helps allergy sufferers and asthmatics by destroying mold and it’sspores, removing them from the equation and reducing the symptoms of asthma.
4. Vacuum regularly to remove organic sources of mold growth
Dust is a great substrate for mold growth, and learning how to use a vacuum effectively is a priority. Remember that one of the three requirements for mold to thrive is an organic substrate. Think about it, how would your garden look if you removed all of the soil? It seems obvious with the garden example, but on a microscopic level it is also true. Vacuuming regularly removes dust, pollen and other organic compounds from the carpet. It also disturbs what it doesn’t pick up into the air column where your air conditioner can quickly filter it out.
5. Water leaks promote mold growth, so make sure you fix any leaks in your home.
Even the smallest leak can support mold growth, and controlling moisture is part of the mold trifecta. Just as with the garden example above, how would your garden look if you didn’t water it – ever. Water is probably the biggest contributing factor to mold growth in the home so take the time to fix even the smallest leaks. A drop or two here or there under your sink might not seem like much, but after a drop per minute for an entire day, how much water would be there fueling mold growth? What about after a week or a month? Fix all of your leaks and make no exceptions and if you don;t know how then choose a good plumber. For information on choosing a competent, licensed contractor in your area, try “How to choose a contractor.”
For more information on mold, try this article from the CDC – Prevent Mold Growth.
In the end, you will never be able to remove 100% of mold from your home, but following these 5 tips can help control its growth and ensure your family’s health and comfort. Figuring out how to prevent mold isn’t rocket science, so with a little preventative maintenance and effort mold doesn’t stand a chance. ASM air conditioning and heating installs all types of HVAC equipment; customized for your needs, including UV filters and customized filtration for asthmatics and allergy sufferers, helping you keep your family safe from the harmful effects of mold and ensuring a high level of indoor air quality. If you live in Santa Clarita or the Greater Los Angeles area, feel free to give us a call or visit out ASM Air Conditioning Blog.