Mold needs three things to survive – warmth, moisture, and food. Because Michigan has cold winters, we don’t tend to worry too much about water damage and mold in the winter. Unfortunately, we are ignoring it precisely when we should be paying more attention.
Think about it. When it gets cold outside, we crank up our furnaces and stoke our wood stoves to make it warm indoors. And to combat winter’s dryness, we pump humidity into the air. Then, when warm, moist air comes into contact with a cold surface like a window or a basement wall, it forms condensation. Add food – anything organic from a slice of bread on your kitchen counter, to a throw rug in your mudroom, to your wooden window sill, drywall or any number of other carbon-based materials – and you have the ideal conditions for mold growth.
Just because it doesn’t smell musty doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact, because you can’t detect it, hidden mold often spreads and grows more in the winter than in the summer when you are more aware of it. So, what can you do to prevent it?
Here are a few tips on how to avoid water damage and mold in winter:
- Make sure your home is adequately insulated. Warm air rises. So, make sure you have enough insulation in your attic to keep the warm air on the floors where you live and not in the attic. Adding insulation to basement walls will help prevent condensation. And an added benefit is: you’ll save money on winter heating and summer cooling bills!
- Promptly repair any leaks you may find in your home. Melting snow on your roof can cause ice dams, broken shingles, and roof leaks, and frozen pipes in your walls and under sinks can both contribute to mold that goes unnoticed until the warmer weather returns.
- Consider purchasing a dehumidifier for your basement. Humidity levels should be kept below 60%. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping your humidity between 30% and 50% if possible.
Other water damage and mold prevention tips from the EPA include:
- Act quickly to dry any condensation you notice on windows, walls, or pipes.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold-water pipes, with insulation.
- Use exhaust fans whenever cooking.
- Run fans in the bathroom or open windows a crack when showering.
Fortunately, if and when you find it, Action Restoration specializes in mold damage restoration. Our licensed contractors will detect and remove the source of the mold and repair any damage, restoring your home or business to better than before (because the source of the mold is gone). For more information on winter mold, call Action Restoration – your West Michigan healthy home resource.