How Does Mold Grow?
In order to start getting rid of mold we first need to understand exactly what it is and how it grows.
Believe it or not mold spores are usually always present in the air, but in order for these to settle and flourish they need two conditions, a little bit of moisture and a good food source.
Mold detection is pretty easy; its usually white or black in colour and has a distinct musty smell. It grows on a number of organic surfaces and materials such as wallpaper, carpets, wallboard, paint and wood and is generally an unsightly problem which is prevalent in many households.
What are the Dangers of Mold?
Getting rid of mold is not only an important consideration in the overall aesthetics of your home but for some people health benefits can be garnered from the removal and prevention of it.
The latter benefits come from the fact that some forms of mold can be harmful to humans; although some such as penicillin can be good for us, others can be pretty toxic and emit fumes, which when inhaled can cause us ill harm
The dangers of mold are put into the spotlight because its existence can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in many people. Milder symptoms of mold illness can include nausea, migraines, flu-like symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome and even nosebleeds. However, researchers have claimed that mold can have more serious health implications and can attack the brain, central nervous system and immune system and in some cases may result in death. Therefore its important that in getting rid of mold that we leave no stone unturned in our efforts; luckily for you we have some friendly hints, tips and advice to help you do just that.
What is Condensation?
As we discussed earlier one of the catalysts for the appearance of mold in houses is condensation. The general definition of condensation is that it rears its head when moist air comes into contact with air or a surface with a lower temperature, this is the reason why we generally see a build up of moisture on tiles and windows.
The science behind this reaction is that the air which is involved in the condensation process contains water vapour, and the higher the airs temperature is the more of this vapour it holds. Therefore when this comes into contact with colder conditions the warmer air drops in temperature which means itll have to lose some of that moisture, which then appears in the form of condensation on non-absorbent materials, which in turn enables the mold to prosper.
Causes of Condensation
In the northern hemisphere - especially in colder climates - condensation within the home can be rife. Because the warm moist air that is produced by the households inhabitants mixes with the air in colder parts of the building, producing this watery reaction.
In order to prevent or reduce condensation and thus to implement mold prevention techniques, we first need to understand which every activities heighten the risk of condensation being produced.
Breathing - In a day the average household pumps 1.2 litres of water into the atmosphere through breathing alone. But unfortunately this is something we have no control over.
Personal Hygiene - Washing, showering and bathing contributes roughly 1 litre to the average households moisture production, again its not really feasible to cut down on this, but reducing the temperature on your showers thermostat slightly will cut down on the amount of moisture which is released into your homes environment.
In addition to this if you dont already have one fitted an extractor fan will help pump some of that steam out of your home. In some cases people open windows to let the steam escape, but unless the temperature outside is warm then the cooler air will get into your bathroom, mix with the hot air and produce even more condensation than wouldve been the case if you left the window shut. My suggestion would be if you had to open the window would be to open it slightly; just enough to let some of the warm air out and limit the amount of its cooler equivalent from getting into your home.
Cooking - Cooking and preparing food may cause a significant amount of condensation to be produced especially when boiling food, as much as 3 litres of water daily may be produced. The only real way to control this is perhaps to have an extractor fan fitted in your kitchen. Another way would be to microwave food where possible and place lids on boiling pans - where possible - to ensure most of the water vapour is kept within the pan itself.
Laundry - Washing and drying clothes accounts for a massive 5.5 litres of your homes moisture levels. The good news however, is that this condition is a little bit more malleable than the previous factors. One of the things you can do to reduce the amount of condensation produced by washing your clothes is to wash them at a lower temperature; people tend to do their laundry at an unnecessarily warm temperature on the premise that if they fail to do so then their clothes wont be cleaned properly, this is a complete fallacy, it doesnt make much difference, only heavily soiled clothes need be washed at high temperatures. Not only will this reduce condensation itll help save you money on your electricity bills.
Additionally, if you dry clothes within your home then this will considerably add to you homes water vapour content, especially if you use radiators to speed up the drying process. Luckily there are a few alternatives to help you reduce condensation; firstly, where possible, try to dry clothes outside, admittedly this isnt always ideal, but try and give it a go.
Secondly if you have to dry your laundry indoors try not to place it on radiators, because, as we spoke of before this will vastly increase the water that is pumped into the air. The final option which is open to you is to invest in a washer dryer which will afford you the opportunity to dry your clothes indoors whilst reducing your households condensation levels.
Heating - Its hard to say how much your homes heating system contributes to the overall daily water vapour of an individual household, this is because people us different forms of fuel to heat their homes and additionally use it in varying amounts. The bottom line is that all heating methods release water into the air, with paraffin heaters being the biggest culprit, for every litre which is burnt off, a litre of water vapour is released into the atmosphere.
Where heating and condensation is concerned the best advice I can offer here is to turn your thermostat down by a few degrees this will help you burn a lot less fuel than you think.
Secondly, when nobody is home ensure you turn the heating off or just turn it down a little.
The final bit of advice I have is to see to it that rooms which are badly affected by window condensation and the like and perhaps suffering from mold damage are well heated; this will ensure that when warm moist air form hotter parts of your home reach these areas then the amount of water vapour which is released will be significantly less than would otherwise be the case.
Finally, in your attempts to reduce condensation why not purchase a couple of dehumidifiers? Doing so will enable you to reduce the amount of water vapour in the air, before it settles on windows, tiles and walls.
Now that weve covered condensation and the role it plays in mold growth, we can now discuss those handy little hints and tips on getting rid of mold and how to stop it from growing in the first place.
Getting Rid of Mold and Mildew
Lets get down to the nitty-gritty and teach you how to go about getting rid of mold. The first tip I have for you is to grab yourself some vinegar and pour a good measure into a spraying bottle. In order to kill mold and mildew you need to spray the areas of your home where it is lurking, such as shower curtains, the underside of your faucets, in the grout of tiles. In addition to this you should mop your floor with vinegar regularly; it doesnt smell too pleasant for o few minutes, but the odour should wear off pretty quickly and it does help you in your efforts in getting rid of mold.
N.B. Dont mix the vinegar with bleach or any other household chemical as the fumes it will produce are potentially lethal.
Why is vinegar used to get rid of mold? I hear you ask. Well, the simple answer to this question is that vinegar contains a substance known as acetic acid which reacts with the organic make-up of the mold, eventually killing it.
Other Tried and Tested Methods in Cleaning Mold and Mildew
In addition to using the vinegar method in your attempt in getting rid of mold you can use baking soda too. This pretty much does the same thing as vinegar.
Another tried and tested mold killer is hydrogen peroxide, which can be purchased from most chemists and beauty product supplier. Just mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water and clean the effected areas.
Mold killing agents can purchased and used if you dont fancy using any the aforementioned methods to get rid of mold and mildew. But in my opinion theyre no better than vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
Mold Prevention Techniques
Weve already discussed the role that reducing condensation levels within the home can play in mold prevention, but leading on from this is the part that purifying the air has in the process.
The air within your home can be successfully purified by way of an ionising air purifier. This will help you stunt the growth of mold because it helps pull common household pollutants such as dust, pollen and most importantly mold spores out of the air before they settle on tiles, work surfaces and furniture and start to grow
To further galvanize your mold prevention efforts, why not purchase anti-mold and condensation paint from your local D.I.Y. store. These handy paints reduce condensation by insulating the wall and increasing its surface temperature. In addition to this it contains an anti-fungal agent which protects your walls from mold growth.
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