It’s common knowledge that mold can be a problem during the warmer months. But most homeowners assume that mold is less of an issue when the weather turns cold. In fact, the heating season provides the perfect climate for mold to grow. Read on for information on what to keep an eye out for in your home regarding mold in winter.
Can you have mold in winter?
Yes, several factors can lead to mold growth in the winter. Microscopic mold spores are always present in the air both indoors and outside. When exposed to water, mold spores can grow into colonies in as little as 48 hours. This overgrowth can release allergens and irritants into the air.
Warm, moist conditions are ideal for mold to thrive. But cold, dry weather doesn’t kill mold. Instead, the spores become dormant and grow again when the right conditions occur.
During the warm months, weather-related leaks and floods may cause water damage and mold. In the winter, home heating practices can cause mold to grow.
- Condensation. When warm air meets cold air, condensation forms. Moisture collects on windows and wet wood window frames are the perfect environment for mold to grow.
- Inadequate insulation. If your home does not have proper insulation or the insulation is installed incorrectly, the result is condensation that encourages mold growth. For example, without adequate insulation, warm air from your heating system can rise into the attic. If the air reaches the cold roof, condensation will form there.
- Poor ventilation. During the winter, most homeowners seal their homes against the cold air. Unfortunately, this can prevent warm, moist air from escaping.
- Storing firewood. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity in certain areas of the house, such as the basement or garage, can cause mold to grow on firewood. It’s best to store firewood outside in an open-sided rack, five to 10 feet away from the home.
Inspecting your home for mold
To prevent the growth of mold in your home, inspect areas where leaks or condensation are likely to occur.
- Scan the roof. Look for missing shingles. Check for leaks around chimneys, attic vents or skylights.
- Clean the gutters. Clogged gutters can drip water down the walls of your house. Clear leaves and debris from the gutters to be sure water can flow freely. Make sure the downspouts are clear also and extend them away from your foundation.
- Assess the attic. There should be insulation around skylights, heating ducts, and the access panel to the attic. Look at the ventilation panels in the attic to be sure they are clean and clear of debris.
- Inspect the basement. Notice if the walls and floor are dry, especially in corners. Look for water in the crawl space.
What to do if you find mold
- If you see mold or just smell a musty scent, schedule an inspection from a mold remediation specialist. An expert will be able to assess the extent of the issue, clean up the mold and repair the damage.
- Because speed is essential in cleaning up mold, specialists from SERVPRO can reach your home within two hours in most parts of the U.S. While you are waiting, turn off the HVAC system to avoid blowing mold spores throughout the house.
- Find the source of moisture and remove it.
Ways to prevent mold in the winter
Mold spores are present in the air, so it is not possible to completely remove them from your home. However, you can eliminate the conditions that allow mold to grow.
- Keep the humidity low. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping the indoor humidity below 60 percent. An ideal range is 30 to 50 percent. To lower the humidity, use an exhaust fan when taking a shower. Avoid placing rugs in areas like basements that are exposed to a lot of moisture. If your home or basement is damp, use a dehumidifier.
- Clean and dry mold-prone areas. Keep areas of your home that are prone to mold clean and dry. Wipe down the shower, windowsills and kitchen counter near the sink.
- Insulate and ventilate. Make sure the attic is thoroughly insulated and has good ventilation.
- Repair leaks. Find the source of leaks or condensation and make repairs immediately.
Mold and winter – what to keep an eye out for in your home
With cool weather comes heating season which can provide the conditions for mold to develop. But with a few precautions, you can keep your home safe, dry and free from mold. If you do discover mold, call in mold remediation specialists like those at SERVPRO to assess the situation and if necessary, manage the cleanup.