With over 300,000 types of mold species in the world, black mold prevention can be a difficult task. Mold spreads by disbursing spores that lie dormant until conditions are right for growth. This is why the best approach to black mold prevention is controlling or eliminating the conditions that promote growth. Mold thrives where conditions are moist or damp, so the key to preventing black mold is controlling the moisture in your home. Without the presence of moisture, it is hard for mold to grow anywhere; however, if water is allowed to sit for as little as 24 hours you run the risk of mold growth. Although totally eliminating mold is next to impossible, there are steps you can take to prevent black mold from becoming a problem.
A good place to begin is to identify areas of your home where moisture is present. For example, a basement that floods would be a good place to start. Another common area to inspect is the bathroom; both on and around the plumbing, as well as around grout and caulking. Over time, it is not uncommon for black mold to grow in little cracks and holes, especially in a bathroom where moisture is present. Next, check the walls and ceiling in your home for water stains or paint bubbling, as this is a sign that a leak may be present. Even if there’s no visible mold or obvious smell you want to take care of these problems now. It may cost some money up front, but it will cost more in the future if mold continues to grow unchecked.
The next step towards black mold prevention is to minimize the moisture in your home through proper ventilation. Common household activities such as cooking, showering, and doing laundry are high-moisture activities that often encourage mold growth. This means turning the fan on above the stove when cooking, the exhaust fan on in your bathroom when showering, and vent appliances outdoors when doing laundry. Opening windows during these activities help with black mold prevention as well. AC units and dehumidifiers are good, but need to be checked on occasion to ensure they don’t produce moisture themselves; if they do, be sure to clean them according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Once you’ve identified potential problem areas in your home necessary for black mold prevention, that is, areas in which moisture is common, you need to check the humidity levels in each room. Once the humidity level in any part of your home approaches or exceeds 55% relative humidity (RH), it becomes a perfect breeding ground for toxic black mold and other biological contaminates to thrive and expand. There are two primary keys to controlling humidity levels for mold prevention: monitoring the RH level, and dehumidification. Relative humidity levels must be checked with relative humidity sensors, aka hygrometers or moisture meters. If you find that your place has a high RH level (55% or more), you must use dehumidifiers to control humidity levels.
Finally, be sure to educate yourself on the climate of your region. In colder climates, molds can be found in outdoor air beginning at the end of winter, and peaking late in the summer. In warmer climates, mold spores are often present year round, with the highest levels occurring late in the summer to early in the fall. While indoor molds can occur year round and depend on moisture levels in your home, outdoor mold stills play a role (i.e. indoor mold levels increase as outdoor mold levels increase). There is no way to completely eliminate black mold health risks, but knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step to black mold prevention.