According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ‘the key to mold control is moisture control.’ Our indoor environments can be 100 times more polluted than the outdoor environment, and mold is one of the main culprits for poor air quality. Mold spores in our homes lead to coughing, wheezing, asthma, and other respiratory problems. It figures that the quantity of mold in your home is a contributory factor to these health problems. The type of mold you have indoors will also affect how mold impacts on health. So, how to prevent mold without air conditioning? Let’s begin by finding out a bit about mold before taking a look at the most likely causes of mold in your home and then covering tips to help you prevent mold without air conditioning.
Mold is naturally occuring inside and outside the home. It is most dangerous to our health when it is trapped inside and can lead to serious health issues leading to hospitalization, and even death. It can be that serious, and therefore prevention is something to be taken seriously. There are more than twelve types of mold commonly found in homes, and over one hundred that might be inside your home. Varying health problems can occur depending on the type of mold you encounter.
Mold needs water, air, and food to grow. Mold thrives in hot, humid conditions. It prefers heat between 77 and 87F and humidity between 62 and 93%. While most common conditions for mold growth are leaks and floods, mold only needs a small amount of water. Moisture from breathing, cooking, bathing, and drying laundry in the home lead to condensation. Condensation gives mold sufficient water to grow and spread when there is a food source and the temperature is suitable.
What is Food for Mold
Mold grows on any organic matter. Dust, debris, and any organic matter are suitable for mold growth. This means that any fabric, upholstery, wallpaper, wood, and even houseplants, the soil, and cut flowers make suitable food for mold to grow.
What Mold Looks Like
Mold varies in color depending on the type and is typically in shades of black, red, blue, yellow, and green. Mold usually looks fuzzy, powdery, or may be slimy.
Where Mold Might Grow in the Home
Mold is likely to grow anywhere in the home that the conditions are suitable. When you have air conditioning, it is vital to keep it well-serviced to avoid mold growing in the ductwork by booking an annual inspection. But, you cry, this article is about how to prevent mold without air conditioning. That is why we now move on to how to prevent mold growth when you don’t have the air exchange that air conditioning provides. However, it is essential to mention here for those readers who do have air conditioning; if you suspect your air conditioning system may have mold contamination, do not run the system until it has been examined by a professional; you don’t want to spread the mold problem throughout your home.
Mold can grow undetected in hidden areas of the home and is especially prevalent in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and attics.
Mold could form anywhere in your home, but especially likes undisturbed areas where dust settles, and the air is undisturbed.
A ‘how to prevent mold without air conditioning’ guide would be incomplete without incorporating maintenance outside your home to help prevent mold inside your home. So let’s start outdoors.
Many people think that mold only grows where there have been leaks or flooding. That is not the case; a small leak or trapped moist air creates ideal mold growth environments. Checking the roof frequently inside and out by going up into the loft space to look inside the roof for moisture or even mold, together with regular external visual inspections for slipped tiles, are preventative measures well worth adding to your maintenance list.
It’s not only the roof that can allow water in or create problems. Gutters that need cleaning or repair can splash or hold excess water against the outside of your house that could seep through, creating problems from dampness or water ingress.
Gutters should also disperse the water well away from the house. Check downpipes for any sign of blockages and check that they are emptying into a drain or gutter that takes the water a distance away from the house.
Around the Outside of the House
Sweeping up and washing down outside can prevent water from getting into the house or outside mold from growing on the external walls of the house. Keeping everything clean outside helps with the battle against mold on the inside.
When hard-surfaced areas slope towards the house, look out for standing water against the house or a build-up of leaves and other debris in the fall.
Moving inside, we’ll look at the hotspots and where to turn your attention.
How to Prevent Mold Without Air Conditioning Inside the Home
Your main artillery against mold is cleanliness. When you regularly clean your home, you prevent mold from having a chance to take hold. Wipe down all surfaces frequently, and remember to include vertical areas where dust could settle. Use a long-handled duster to clean behind large furniture that you can’t move to keep dust and spider webs in check.
Using green cleaning products free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) ensure that you are not adding to the toxicity of the air in your home. Consider natural cleaning products containing essential oils. For example, always go for natural lemon rather than a constructed lemon fragrance. Look for products that contain essential oils. Essential oil is a highly concentrated extract from plants. citrus, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, and cinnamon are all especially good at banishing mold. Lemon is a particularly effective natural antibacterial cleaning product for cleaning all around the home.
Mop up any spills as soon as they occur and dry the area. If you can store wet mops and cleaning clothes out of the house in an outside building or out in the yard. Hang them up to air and dry them.
Condensation is the moisture you see on windows and sometimes on external walls. You will also see condensation on glass or perspex showers. Condensation forms when wet, warm air comes into contact with cooler surfaces that are below the water dew point temperature.
Moist-rich air is frequently invisible until it comes into contact with a cold surface, where it condenses into the telltale moisture drops and fogging.
Prevent condensation by using extractor fans in bathrooms, extractor hoods in kitchens, and opening windows or window vents where they are fitted.
Opening windows not only allows moisture-filled water out but doing so for as little as five minutes a day allows fresh air into the home. Aim to open windows for five to fifteen minutes every day.
Store anything not in regular use in storage boxes or vacuum bags. Move things around frequently, getting in behind to clean behind storage boxes and bags.
Hidden leaks can cause condensation or wet spots on walls and can also lead to mold growth in many places, such as on walls behind large storage furniture.
Your kitchen is a hot spot where mold growth is concerned. Steam from cooking and washing up creates additional moisture in the kitchen. You can prevent the steam from escaping to other parts of your home by keeping the door closed, and when doing so, you will notice that the kitchen is even more steamy as the humidity is concentrated in the one room.
Opening a window vent, opening a window, or an outside door will all help to disperse moist air and encourage air movement that prevents stale moist air from hanging around.
When you have one, use a cooker hood to disperse moisture and capture cooking oils. If you don’t have a cooker hood, consider fitting one as a worthwhile investment.
Even foods you cook in the oven or microwave create moisture and add to the humidity in a kitchen.
Your washer draws in and disperses water. Check that there are no leaks where the water goes in and out of the machine. Keeping the washer clean helps protect against mold build-up in the machine, thereby preventing mold spores from escaping into the air or transferring to clothing.
When you have a dryer, check the moisture collection drawer frequently, and empty and clean the drawer regularly. When you have a venting dryer, take steps to ensure the vent goes outside. Check the back of the machine for any leaks or moisture that could signify that the venting system needs attention.
When you don’t have a clothes dryer, dry laundry outdoors whenever possible; consider using a dehumidifier to aid with moisture removal and speed up the drying process when you need to dry indoors.
The best way to prevent mold formation in the bathroom is to fit bathroom panels and wipe them down regularly. When you have a tiled bathroom pay particular attention to the grout or silicone between the tiles, where minute amounts of dust can form and enable mold to grow.
Keeping all bathroom sanitaryware clean and as dry as possible also helps to combat mold. Always hang towels up to dry, or better still, hang them up outside the house if you can.
Leave bathroom extractor fans running for at least thirty minutes after having a shower or bathing to help disperse the moist air. Opening a window, even if only a tiny amount, also helps to eradicate moisture and mold growth.
When you don’t have air conditioning, moisture from breathe condensates on windows and external walls. As before, keeping the area clean and wiped down helps a lot; however, moisture can get behind wallpaper and enable unseen mold growth behind the wallpaper. Opening the window for a short time each morning helps the moist air to escape. Using a heat source to dry the air as quickly as possible will help. You could also consider painting external walls with wipe down paint.
All Rooms – consider houseplants
Houseplants are not only beautiful to look at; they help cleanse the air in your home and help filter out toxins. Actually, some plants are better than others and among the best are:
- English Ivy – a perfect choice for the bathroom, this plant has proven mold-busting attributes.
- Aloe Vera – the plant to have in your kitchen; not only can you snip a piece off to treat burns, but Aloe Vera purifies the air, helping to eradicate toxins from cleaning products and detergents.
- Rubber Plant – Recommended by NASA as an air cleansing plant. Take care, rubber plants are toxic for dogs and cats.
You should dry wet areas around your home, introduce fresh air, use natural cleaning products, and consider introducing house plants. Suppose you already have mold in your home. In that case, you should tackle the mold and follow the preventative guidance here to prevent the return of the potentially hazardous mold. According to the EPA, it’s impossible to get rid of the tiny mold spores that float in the air indoors, what you can do is prevent growth by tackling and controlling moisture in your home and ensuring adequate maintenance as a preventative to water ingress that could lead to severe mold infestations. Keeping surfaces clean eradicates the food source for mold, and using cleaning products with mold-busting essential oils gives you a fighting chance of preventing mold when you don’t have air conditioning.