Because mold growth is a bigger problem in warm, humid climates, many home owners take a sigh of relief when winter comes. The dryer weather and cooler temperatures means that stopping mold in the home should be at least temporarily easier, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Winter ins one of the times when mold can spread quickly and quietly. Here is what you can do about it.
Why is winter great for mold?
Even though the air is drier, the winter season itself is often wet. Extra water (in the form of snow) piles up around the foundation of your home. Snow is tracked in from boots, wet coats, and other snow gear. Snow piles on the roof can leach through cracked or broken shingles. Improperly excavated basement window wells allow water to drain down. All this extra moisture has to go somewhere. Also, because the air is drier during the winter months, the house "breathes" out some of the accumulated moisture from summer. This moisture collects on windows, sills, and walls, leaving a fine film of water for mold spores to use.
What can you do to prevent mold problems in winter?
There are many steps you can take to make sure your home is safe from mold during cold weather. Be sure to
- keep your home clean, especially after playing outdoors or tracking in snow.
- insulate your pipes. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes exposed to cold weather to crack or burst, initiating the water damage that make mold a problem.
- clean your windows. Moisture that collect on window panes should be wiped away, especially if you have wooden window frames and sills.
- seal up the cracks. Take time to seal your window cracks, replace weatherstripping on doors, and to fill any broken mortar or foundation cracks in your basement. These are all areas where melting snow can enter the home and start the process of growing mold.
- run a dehumidifier in rooms that have continued condensation. The air may seem drier to you, but in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, moisture content is still a problem. Move a portable dehumidifier into these rooms when they are heavily used.
- shovel sidewalks and move snow to a place where it will flow away from the home when it melts. For example, if you have a walkway that runs alongside your home, move all the snow to the side furthest from the house. This way, when the snow melts, the runoff will be further away from the foundation, reducing the chances of spring flooding.
- put wet snow things into the drier immediately after they have been used, of find another drying heat source that properly vents. Laying things out in a basement or leaving them in a heap on the floor can contribute to moisture levels in the house, or even cause mildew growth on the surface where the things lie.
What should you do if you notice mold growth in winter?
Your first action should be to call a mold remediation service. Your next should be to discover what the source of the water is, and stop it before it can get worse. Mold trouble can be caused by a slow leak, moisture building up in the air, poor ventilation, or a flood from a burst pipe. Acting quickly can save your home from having a mold problem so extensive that expensive renovations are required. You should also take the time to move valuable but wet items like furniture, rugs, and books to a dry place and have them professionally cleaned and dried to make sure they don't also become casualties of mold.
Reach out to a mold remediation company for more ideas and additional reading on keeping your home mold free.