Mold prevention during cold winter months is actually just as challenging as during hot, humid summers. Cold winter conditions outdoors do not make much difference in the warm indoor environment that continues to be an inviting habitat for mold in winter. Spawning airborne mold spores can start mold development in your house throughout the year, regardless of seasonal temperatures. And, mold can survive at lower temperatures than people usually maintain inside homes during winter. However, there are measures you can take to help prevent mold growth in your home during winter.
Causes of Mold Growth During Winter
Condensation can occur due to the clash of warm air from the heated interior of your home and the cold air descending upon the roof above it and enveloping the exterior walls. This can be a significant issue in homes with insulation that is of insufficient R-Value between the roof and the ceiling, and between outer and inner walls. Preventing condensation helps to avoid mold development.
Snow melt is another major contributor to mold problems in homes with roof, basement, or foundation issues, or with deep snow that lays against the house and either seeps through or saturates small or large areas of insufficiently protective exterior walls.
Here are some actions you can take to help discourage mold growth inside your home resulting from winter temperatures and snow or ice conditions.
Run ceiling fans in the reverse direction.
During winter, run your ceiling fan in the opposite direction from its normal rotation, in order to drive air upward instead of downward. This setting blows air upward toward the ceiling, instead of pushing it downward toward the floor, increasing circulation of warm air across the ceiling. Increasing air movement promotes drying of any moisture in the air and on the ceiling surface, which inhibits condensation from forming.
Driving warm air upward also pushes warm air already hovering aloft, causing it to cascade down walls and windows, drying those surfaces to some extent, and eliminating condensation from those surfaces as well. This can be especially helpful during night hours, to help minimize conditions that encourage and foster mold development.
Check your attic for humidity and condensation.
Although your roof may shed rain effectively during summer, winter snow and ice melt slowly, remaining stationary on the roof for comparatively long periods. When snow or ice melt forms dams on the roof, roof leaks can become a problem.
After snow melts, inspect your attic walls and roof underside. If insulation is exposed, lift and spot check some jointed areas for moisture between roof foundation boards and insulation. Also, check around ventilation outlets and plumbing vent exit seals for leaking around edges of roof seals. And, inspect attic windows for excessive moisture. Check walls below windows for water leaks from faulty seals and for condensation draining from window surfaces. Look around carefully to identify any other area in the attic that appears may present a risk of fostering mold.
Dry wet surfaces throughout your house.
During cold winter months, windows, doors, plumbing pipes, vent covers, wall sconces near windows and doors, and other items may remain damp, due to constant condensation. Dampness invites mold growth on and around these parts of the house.
Maintain a routine of wiping away moisture from these areas to reduce potential for mold to develop.
Recruit family members to provide support for this effort. Especially damp areas may be hard to manage by wiping alone. Adjust temperature settings for home heating, to reduce contrast with outside temperatures. Use caulk to eliminate air leaks and moisture encroachment into your home’s interior. Use a dehumidifier in especially problematic areas.
Upgrade your insulation to current standards.
In houses without insulation inside the exterior walls, or with insufficient insulation, condensation can be very difficult to control. Mold forms and spreads on cold interior walls that are in direct contact with warm air inside the house.
To eliminate these ideal conditions for rampant mold growth, upgrade wall insulation in conformance with current recommendations by the US Department Of Energy regarding R-Values for your climate zone, construction materials types and grades, and your building configuration.
Keep humidifier use at a minimum.
Winter air can be cold and dry, which is irritating to some people. Humidifiers are popular during winter months to alleviate symptoms such as dry throat, nasal passages, eyes and skin, by adding moisture to indoor air. But, some portable humidifiers do not have settings for regulating the level of humidity being generated.
To reduce risk of mold contamination due to excessive humidity, maintain humidity at no more than approximately 60%. Also, diligently maintain humidifier tanks and operative parts in clean condition, to prevent the machine from being yet another highly attractive place for mold to flourish inside your home.
RDS is a family-owned environmental health testing and remediation company, located in Broomfield Colorado. RDS (formerly MINCO) began performing radon testing in the 1960s. Today, we serve clients nation-wide, including home owners and corporations. RDS field specialists are highly trained. We work closely with government organizations, including IAQA, EPA, HUD, AARST and ACAC. We are BBB accredited ( A+ rating). We are fully insured. RDS is AARST/NRPP certified for radon analysis, testing and mitigaiton). RDS services include:
- Radon Testing
- Mold Testing
- Lead Testing
- Asbestos Testing
- Radon Mitigation
- Mold Remediation
For More Information
If you would like more information about mold prevention, contact RDS at (303) 444-5253 to arrange to speak to a mold remediation expert. We have been helping home and business owners with residential, commercial and industrial environmental safety issues for over 50 years.