House mold is the bane of homeowners. A silent, creeping enemy, it isn’t only ugly – it can harm your health. Based on reports from EPA and the Berkeley National Laboratory, about 4.6 million cases of asthma in the US can be attributed to house mold exposure. And now that many of us are spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, mold growth is a more pressing concern than ever.
Mold causes far more problems than just asthma, too. Health concerns arising from exposure to mold include mycotoxicosis, or mold poisoning. In particular, children and the elderly have high sensitivity to mold. Broader house mold symptoms can range widely. The list includes a runny or blocked nose; watery, red eyes; a dry cough; skin rashes; sore throat; sinusitis; wheezing; and increased risk of infection.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that mold can be combated. Step one: start tracking the risk factors for mold, particularly the indoor air conditions for mold growth. Step two: take steps known to help prevent mold proliferation.
Five Air Factors That Indicate House Mold Growth
Defense is the best form of attack. In the ongoing battle against house mold, the place to start is tracking the airborne evidence that mold could be proliferating.
- Moisture and Humidity
One of the two things house mold needs to thrive is moisture. Spores, which are essentially mold “seeds”, grow in warmth and damp. High indoor air humidity raises the risk of mold growth.
The other thing that promotes mold growth is cellulose. Cellulose is present in many things, including dust. More dust in your indoor air means a higher chance of mold spores floating around.
Another one of the triggering conditions for mold growth is temperature. House mold thrives in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C).
- Carbon Dioxide
House mold consumes oxygen and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). According to Dr. Paul Armstrong, a researcher with the USDA, “As mold grows, it gives off carbon dioxide. Therefore, if there is a CO2 spike, there is likely an increase of mold activity.”
As mold consumes the nutrients it needs to grow, enzymes and substrates carry out chemical reactions. These reactions produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a byproduct, meaning that raised VOC levels are a risk factor for mold growth.
Track Conditions for Mold Growth with Awair Element
Tracking these contributing factors to mold growth – humidity, CO2, VOCs, and dust (PM2.5) – will help you pinpoint the areas that need attention. Awair Element tracks these factors, providing a broad picture of your indoor air quality (IAQ). Element then gives you real-time insight and recommendations to stay healthy, via an easy-to-use smartphone app.
The Awair Home app displays your air quality score, as well as your individual sensor readings and trends. It helps you understand how your indoor activities impact the quality of your indoor air. Moreover, the Awair app easily integrates with smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Important Note: The Awair Element tracks indoor air quality factors that can have a bearing on when and where mold might grow. The Awair Element is not a mold detector, nor is it a device that eliminates mold. In some instances, attempts to directly combat existing mold colonies can be dangerous and should be left at the hands of professionals.
Six Steps to Battle House Mold
Tracking the mold-growing factors is a great first step. But taking action and maintaining an anti-mold routine further reduces your risk of getting mold in your home. Here are some general handy tips to combat mold growth.
- Air out. Open your doors and windows during dry weather days to circulate air around the house. Open at least two windows on opposite sides of your home, or at least one window per floor. Keep them open for as long as possible to flush out bad air and moisture.
- Run your fans. In addition to airing out, you can also run your bathroom fans, range hood, and box fans to speed up the evaporation of moisture. If need be, you can choose to run a dehumidifier.
- Dry the outside area of your shower. The constant wetting-drying cycle of the floor space just outside of your shower curtain is a precursor to mold growth. To help with the splashes, keep a small towel to dry this area after each use.
- Vent your dryers to the outside. When venting your dryers, do not connect them to your attic, basement, or crawlspace. This blows hot, humid, and moist air into what should typically be cool, dry places.
- Fix the leaks. That single leaky faucet you’ve been putting off fixing for a week? That’s actually contributing to the growth of mold in your home. Find all your leaky pipes and appliances (washing machines, water heaters, etc.), and fix them as soon as possible.
- Keep snow and water away from the house. Having a proper drainage system helps. On snowy days, don’t plow or shovel up snow against the sides of the house. Weather stripping your doors and windows are a great idea, as well.
Keep Beating the Mold
House mold is harmful to you, your family, and your home’s health. Tracking five indoor air factors that contribute to mold growth offers you a powerful layer of foundational protection. Combined with proactive anti-mold practices, you can ensure your house stays mold-free.
Don’t wait to experience house mold symptoms to discover you have a mold problem. Track your air quality with Awair Element now, and prevent conditions conducive to house mold growth. Check out more details about Awair Element below.