Prevent Mold and Mildew in Your House

Just hearing the words mold and mildew can make one shudder. Not only is mold unsightly, it’s also unhealthy, and it’s not always indicative of one’s cleaning practices. More often it is caused by a home’s airflow and water barriers, or lack thereof. After several decades in the remodeling industry, we can suggest a few simple things you can do to avoid developing mold and mildew in your home.

Run the fan. No really, run the fan. In bathrooms, run the fan for 15 or 20 minutes after getting out of a bath or shower. This will help ensure that the moisture in the air will be removed more completely. Similarly, your kitchen should have an appropriate vent fan which should be used while you’re cooking and for a few minutes after you’re done. Also, be sure to wipe down any cabinets that collect moisture near your cooking area.

Check your seals. Water will get in anywhere you let it. Broken or worn seals are great places for a small leak to develop. Small leaks can turn into big problems. Showers and other bathing areas, as well as the kitchen, are at a higher risk for mold development due to the frequent use of water and splashing. Ensuring grout lines are sealed and that caulking is intact can help you keep mold and mildew to a minimum.

Clean your washer. Often homeowners will find mold or mildew build-up in their clothes washing machine. Regularly running vinegar and water through it, along with wiping out any standing water that sits in the folds of the machine’s seals can make a big difference.

Check your moisture levels. Hygrometers will give you an idea of your home’s humidity and let you know if further action is needed. Typical humidity levels fluctuate depending on the season, so be sure to read the instructions.

Invest in a dehumidifier. If your home tests higher than anticipated or if you have a basement, a dehumidifier might be a good purchase as they can help keep your home’s moisture at appropriate levels.

Waterproof your basement. A high water table can be a big problem for many houses, but especially in homes with a basement. A crack in the foundation or basement flooring will allow water to seep in, potentially creating a big problem. Ensuring a good sealant was used over your basement flooring can save you a lot of headaches.

Clean out gutters. Water will always choose the easiest route into your home. Simple steps such as regular gutter cleaning and checking the condition of your roof can help alert you to any potential issues with water run-off.

Check under your sinks. This is a common place to experience a water leak, but many of us use this as a primary storage location. We recommend leaving some space directly under the pipes in order to see if water is collecting there, and be sure to check every so often that the area is dry.

Small areas of mold and mildew can be treated with chemicals like bleach, or less toxic options such as peroxide, vinegar, baking soda and borax, or tea tree oil.  If you see large areas of mold, it’s time to call in a mold remediation professional. Otherwise ensure your home is getting fresh air whenever possible. It’s harder in the winter, but on a day where the sun peeks out it’s worth opening the window for a bit. 

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