Home Maintenance: Tips to help prevent mold

Mold is a concern for many home owners.  Not only can it damage materials making them stained, discoloured and eventually ruined, but mold can also lead to a variety of health issues.  Depending on the type of mold, length and amount of exposure, effects can range from very minor to quite serious allergic reactions and illness.

So how can you avoid mold growing in your home?  One basic rule is to keep your home dry with good air circulation throughout. Mold needs moisture in order to grow, so controlling the moisture level and keeping your home dry will help to prevent its growth.  Here are some tips suggested by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) on how to eliminate mold in your house.

  1. Find and fix any water leaks.
  2. Remove moisture as it is produced by using exhaust fans (for example in the kitchen and bathroom).  If you don’t have exhaust fans open your windows for a short time, but be aware that wind can actually push the moisture into another room as opposed to outside.
  3. Invest in a hygrometer.  This is a device that can measure how much moisture is in the air, if the level is too high use a dehumidifier to lower the relative humidity.
  4. Reduce the amount of stored materials.  Molds grow on fabrics, paper, wood and pretty much anything that collects dust and holds moisture.  If you’re not using it, get rid of it!
  5. In the basement make sure that you eliminate any clutter to improve air circulation and dehumidify the space during the warm months.
  6. Avoid putting carpets on slab-on-grade or below grade floors.
  7. Periodically clean the drain in your basement floor.
  8. Avoid standing water.  Keep your sump pits covered (one way is to use plywood wrapped with plastic).
  9. Regularly clean and replace your furnace filters.
  10. Make sure that your clothes dryer is exhausted to the outside.
  11. Remove the lint from your dryer EVERY time you use it.
  12. Keep your bathroom and kitchen drains in good shape.  You can clean your drain by pouring a handful of baking soda into it, adding a cup of vinegar, putting the plug in the drain and letting the combination work for about 20 minutes and then flushing with water.
  13. Avoid using carpet in the bathroom.
  14. Keep surfaces that get wet (for example walls around the bathtub and shower) clean and dry.
  15. Take out your kitchen garbage daily.
  16. Vacuum often and if you are buying a new one, look for one with a HEPA filter.
  17. If you have electric baseboards, vacuum the units or have them cleaned professionally.
  18. Install downspout extensions to lead water away from the house and keep your eavestroughs  clean.
  19. Regularly check the condition of the roof and fix any areas where water may enter.
  20. Don’t bring in items (like furniture, clothing, books) that have been stored in moldy place.

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