Prevent Mold Growth by Identifying the Mold Triangle

mold triangleIn science class, many of us learned about the “fire triangle.” Combustion depends on three things—heat, oxygen and fuel—and if any of the three is removed, the fire dies. If you're dealing with mold in your home—or trying to keep it out—you should know that mold has a triangle, too: Warmth, Food and Moisture. Let's look at each side and what you can do to remove it:

Warmth

Breaking this part of the triangle is definitely the most difficult. Molds and fungi grow in a range between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which means room temperature is ideal. Turning your home or business into an oven or walk-in freezer is probably not a project you want to sign on for, so let's move on to the next thing mold needs.

Food

Mold doesn't just see the food in your fridge or breadbox as a meal. It can dine on almost anything in your home or business. The Centers for Disease Control note that “almost all commonly used construction materials and furnishings can provide nutrients to support mold growth.” Anything from drywall to couch cushions can be a rich “growth medium” for a mold colony. Dirt and other contaminants on surfaces in the environment can give mold extra nutrients and a place to gain a foothold. Keep surfaces as clean as possible, especially in areas that will be warm and moist, such as bathrooms. Use anti-microbial cleaners when possible. If you're remodeling your space you have a prime opportunity to prevent future mold growth by using mold-resistant building materials. These products range from specially treated lumber—which is also termite resistant—to insulation, drywall, carpet and even paints. Some are treated with (or contain) fungicidal chemicals while others are made of materials mold can't eat. It's still necessary to keep these products as clean as possible so mold doesn't grow in dirt or contaminants instead of the building material itself.

Moisture

Controlling moisture is the easiest (and arguably the most important) way of dealing with mold growth. One crucial fact to keep in mind is that mold doesn't need standing or dripping water to grow. The moisture from high humidity or water absorbed into building materials can be more than enough. The key is to keep the moisture out or remove it from the air once it's in the area. Here are some things to watch for:
  • Drafts and leaks not only waste energy used for heating and cooling, they allow moist air in.
  • Even air that's supposed to be moving into your home or business through vents and intakes can be a source of extra humidity. Be sure there are no leaks around the vents themselves or in the ducting.
  • Use fans, vents or even open windows to send humid air (from showers, cooking, laundry, etc.) out of the building.
  • Check any area where there might be a sharp difference in temperatures. These can be prime spots for condensation to occur.
  • Keep a sharp eye out for any area where there might be standing water for any reason. Even if it's not a constant problem, standing water now means humidity when it evaporates.
  • Use a dehumidifier to eliminate chronic moisture problems.
Most importantly, if mold has already formed and is taking up an area more than about 3 feet by 3 feet, call in professionals trained in water damage remediation and mold removal. Mold can damage building materials and create long-term health issues ranging from skin irritation to lung infections. Watch for signs the mold triangle is forming and when you see it, break it before mold can break in on you. Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon Subscribe to our blog to get new articles delivered to your inbox:


 

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