What is it?
Mold is a fungus that occurs naturally. It is a microbe that feeds on dead and decaying organic material. This is great for speeding up decomposition in nature, but bad for the foundation of your house. There are tens of thousands of different types of mold. Some estimates put it as high as 300,000.
Mold can be found outdoors year round. It tends to grow in warm, damp areas. Mold spores themselves are incredibly resilient and can survive in very harsh conditions. What mold cannot survive without, however, is water. When a mold spore is deprived of water it enters a dormant state in which it is not dead, but doesn't grow and feed. Once the spore receives water again, like from a recurring water leak or high humidity, it will be able to grow and reproduce again. Some types of mold are able to grow in a matter of days, while others may take a few weeks of constant high humidity to enable growth.
How does it affect you?
Mold affects everyone in different ways. Some people are more sensitive to molds and can experience eye and skin irritation. Others that are allergic may experience more severe reactions.
How is mold prevented?
The best way to prevent mold is to keep the humidity levels down in your house. Use a dehumidifier if necessary. The optimal level is at least below 50%, preferably closer to 30%-40%.
Make sure to take care of any water leaks that you know of as soon as possible. Check your water pipes and drain lines often, especially after winter. If they have cracked and leaked into a crawl space or basement for a long time unnoticed then mold will begin to grow very shortly. This can lead to major problems later on.
While mold can grow in any part of a home that experiences high moisture levels, the areas that tend to be the most susceptible to microbial growth are crawl spaces, attics and basements. This is usually because these are the areas most exposed to incoming water. Crawl spaces and attics also tend to have poor ventilation. This is one of the biggest culprits of mold growth. If your crawl space or attic has poor ventilation, once water enters there is no air movement so the moisture levels will never be lowered, causing rapid mold growth.
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