4 Ways You Are Encouraging Winter Mold Growth In Your Home
Did you know that your winterization efforts can unintentionally cause mold growth? Here's what you need to know to keep that from happening.
As you try to winterize your home and keep it warm and energy-efficient, be careful how you proceed. Some winterization efforts involving windows or your attic may accidentally cause condensation that leads to mold growth, warns Russ Harlow, owner of AdvantaClean of Windham, CT.
The four problems highlighted here can help you recognize the issue before you pay the price.
Sealing Off Everything
Completely cutting off all air sources is a common mistake people make when trying to prepare their home for winter. While sealing your home’s cracks, holes, and other entry points is crucial to keeping it warm, sealing off everything can have unintended consequences.
Jane Wilson, a manager for Fantastic Services, says sealing all the air vents, especially in rooms that aren’t being used, can be a mistake. That might cause air stagnation, which leads to condensation around windows, doors and other hard surfaces. “Over time that leads to mold and mildew growth and destroys the surface,” she adds.
Wilson recommends opening the doors and windows a couple of times a week to let in some fresh air. That can help prevent condensation.
Installing Insulation Incorrectly
Insulation is one of the most integral defense mechanisms for preventing mold growth in your home, says Tom Savoy, technical director for Insulfoam. When it’s installed incorrectly, however, it can have the opposite effect.
“Installation can be tricky around HVAC ductwork and similar locations, as insulation materials are often times cut too short,” says Savoy. “As a result, small gaps in the line can create an environment for warm, moist air to come in contact with cooler surfaces and spur mold growth.”
“Be careful to not accidentally cover soffit vents with insulation because those vents play an important role in air circulation,” says Bud Summers, EVP of Operations at PuroClean. Covering these vents will trap moisture in the attic space, which can lead to mold growth.
And finally, be sure you get enough insulation to cover the entire attic. Any gaps in the insulation can allow warm air to enter the attic and condense on cold sheathing, leading to mold growth, warns Harlow.
Storing Firewood Inside Your Home
If you store firewood inside your home to help preserve it during the winter, you’re making a mistake that can bring more than just mold into your home.
“Areas such as the basement or garage are prone to temperature and humidity fluctuations, which can contribute to mold growth on firewood,” says Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. “Instead, it’s ideal to store the firewood in an open-sided shed near your property, five to 10 feet away from your home, and off the ground with a top cover.”
Apart from mold, firewood stored in your home can also introduce and attract pests that will be a nuisance to you and your family.
Forgetting Winterization Tasks
These three things are must-dos on your winterization checklist:
- Clean out your clothes dryer vent. If it clogs, the moisture will build up and create the perfect conditions for mold growth.
- If the bathroom exhaust fan isn’t working, replace it with one that removes moisture. If there are water or mold stains around the exhaust fan, better insulation is one good cure.
- Insulate plumbing pipes on outside walls. Waiting until temperatures fall below freezing could lead to burst pipes and major water damage.