The hot summer temperatures and heavy humidity have local families blasting air conditioning in their homes for relief. The problem is when we pump cold air through our home’s ducts combined with warm, humid air on the outside we create condensation and moisture that can lead to mold. So what can you do to keep your home cool while at the same time fight off moisture and mold that can make you and your family sick?
Tips to Fight Mold and Humidity
Monitor the humidity monitor: An indoor digital humidity monitor can give a quick and accurate measurement of the humidity within a home. For greatest comfort and to best reduce the bacteria and odors, humidity levels in the home should be kept between 40 and 55 percent. A humidity monitor can be purchased for less than $15.
Beware of your air: Run air conditioning systems running from May through the end of October and keep the fan setting on “Auto”. Leaving the fan setting on “On” runs the system continuously and can cause moisture condensed on the air conditioner coil to be blown back into the home.
Rein in rain: Add gutters to the roof of the house and downspouts at the base to redirect rainwater away from the house’s foundation.
Build a barrier: If your house has a crawlspace, make sure the floor has a vapor barrier, which is a plastic covering that lays on top of the dirt surface. This prevents moisture from the dirt floor from evaporating and seeping through into the air beneath the home. This also protects against problems caused by excess moisture like mold, odors, insects and wood rot.
Move on mold: In many cases you can see or smell mold. It is most often green or black in color and has a “musty” or “earthy” smell, somewhat like the forest floor deep in the woods. In that case use an antimicrobial mixture made up of household items such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda to kill or prevent the growth of mold. Spray the mixture onto the mold area and remove with a scrub brush or disposable rag while wearing protective covering such as face masks, gloves and shoe covers.
Mold grows quickly: It only takes 24 to 48 hours to grow and spread in wet, warm conditions.
Undetectable: Excessive moisture behind walls, under floors, or in cabinets or closets are perfect breeding grounds for mold. This is mold that you often can’t see or smell but it can make you and your family very sick.
Bleach can’t kill it: Applying bleach can actually promote more mold growth on porous surfaces. A more effective treatment is an antimicrobial mixture made up of household items such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda.
Mold claims: Damage can cost as much as $10,000, and most insurance carriers will not cover the cost of mold removal.
Symptoms of mold exposure: Severe body aches, joint pain, nausea, chronic and sometimes serious respiratory issues. These symptoms can develop quickly, or over time.
People at risk: The very young, the very old, people with compromised immune systems. Mold can be deadly among these groups of people.