Don’t Underestimate Mold Risks in the Winter
It’s not uncommon to mistake a winter allergy with a mold allergy. In fact, with mold, there are a number of factors that can cause concern during the winter. In many homes, the winter heating actually makes indoor air much drier, but because of poor ventilation, humidity can get to a high level. Shower steam, cooking vapour, and general condensation can very easily accumulate.
With closed windows, cold walls, and excess air moisture, conditions for mold are ideal – and the prevalence of mold risks are increased. In many homes, the cold, damp winter air can promote mold growth and thus trigger allergic reactions. That’s why it’s important not to confuse cold symptoms with winter allergies and mold reactions. Mold risks shouldn’t be underestimated.
Many reasons for mold to appear in winter
Mold risks are not necessarily lessened because of freezing weather. In winter, homes are more “closed up” than the rest of the year – and this tends to trap air moisture and cause humidity levels to be high. More than that, warm indoor air is often poorly ventilated, and that allows mold and mildew to flourish. When unnoticed, or unattended, mold growth can quickly spread.
In some situations, when mold spores are dispersed into the air, mold risks are increased, mainly because the spores can be inhaled. This is particularly common in areas of the home that may be exposed to higher levels of relative humidity - like the basement, laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen. Relative humidity and room temperature will both have an impact on mold growth.
In general, there are a number of preventive measures that can be taken to prevent mold.
- Keeping indoor humidity levels at between 35% and 45%
- Using a dehumidifier in rooms that will lower air moisture
- Setting ceiling fans (where available) in reverse circulation
- Maintaining heating ducts and air filters in clean condition
- Preventing any water from standing in condensation pans
Taking added precautions to prevent mold
- Clothes dryers should be well vented to the outdoors
- Basement water leaks should be inspected and fixed
- Aluminum or vinyl windows are preferable to wood
- Ideally, exterior walls should be well sealed/insulated
- The HVAC system should be sized to match the home
- Basements and attics should be checked for air leaks
- Prevent condensation from collecting on the windows
- Exhaust fans should be used in bathroom and kitchen
- Exhaust fans should be properly vented to the outside
- Attics and roof cavities should be suitably ventilate
- Furnace filters should be changed monthly in winter
- Melted snow must be stopped from seeping indoors
- Air conditioning/refrigerator drip pans must be clean
- Melting roof snow should flow away from the house
Homeowners can do a lot to prevent mold in winter. But there does come a time when a mold infestation may require expert removal. The important thing is not to engage in a “quick fix”. Mold removal experts have the equipment and experience to remove and remediate effectively.
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