Mold appears as black, green, or even pink spots in the bathroom, kitchen, garage and attic most commonly. But mold can grow anywhere in your home as long as the conditions are right.
Removing mold is a time-consuming process that usually requires the help of a professional mold removal team like Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois to get it all. Preventing mold in the first place is a much easier task – and one that you won’t need professional assistance with.
Preventing mold begins with controlling moisture in your home. To do that, you need a way to check moisture levels in your home on a regular basis
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll explain how moisture affects mold growth and how you can monitor the humidity levels in your home, as well as the steps to take if the levels are too high.
How Humidity Leads to Mold
Mold is actually already inside your home. It’s everywhere, to some degree, in the air around us.
But to survive and grow into a visible colony, mold needs two main things: food and water. (It already has the third thing it needs: oxygen.)
- Food isn’t a problem because mold feeds on any organic material. This includes dust, pet dander, cotton, wood and paper.
- Moisture, on the other hand, can be controlled. Leaks, spills and high humidity areas are common ways mold growth begins in our homes. Mold spores settle on surfaces that are damp and begin to spread outward and downward, forming a colony.
It’ impossible to eliminate all organic matter from you home, no matter how much you clean. But if you can control the levels of moisture in your home, you will be able to prevent mold growth. With these preventative measures, mold will be much more manageable if does show up.
What is a Hygrometer?
A hygrometer measures humidity. Having one inside your home can help you determine if the conditions are right for mold growth.
Half a century ago, indoor humidity was about the same as outdoor humidity. Recent advancements in home building techniques and materials mean that our homes are more airtight than they were 50 years ago. Therefore, it’s possible to have high indoor humidity even when the outdoor levels are low to normal.
There have been many versions of hygrometers over the years, from the very first models that were made of metal and comprised of absorbent materials that weighed down a lever when humidity was high…to today’s more efficient electric models with digital readout.
For various purposes, people use hygrometers in baby’s rooms, wine cellars, warehouses, and greenhouses, where humidity levels need to be strictly controlled. But they are very useful for preventing mold growth throughout the home.
Monitoring Humidity with a Hygrometer Can Prevent Mold
You probably understand by now that a hygrometer doesn’t actually prevent mold. It is a tool that alerts you when moisture is at a level that is suitable for mold growth so you can do something about it.
Mold thrives in areas where humidity is 50 percent or higher. Bathrooms, basements and attics tend to have high humidity, so these are good areas to place your hygrometer sensor, but the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms should also be carefully monitored since these are the areas where you spend the most time.
So should you install a hygrometer in your home?
The answer is yes if any of the following is true:
- Someone in your home has mold allergies.
- Someone in your home has asthma or other respiratory issues that worsen in high humidity.
- You have had mold in your home before.
- You live in a region that is naturally higher in humidity.
- Your home contains items that can be damaged by humidity, such as musical instruments, expensive rugs, and wood furniture.
A hygrometer can simply give you peace of mind that your home is a safe, healthy place. So even if none of the above are true, it won’t hurt to have a hygrometer any more than it would to install carbon monoxide detectors or any other precautionary device.
What to Do if You Have High Indoor Humidity
So you purchased a hygrometer for peace of mind or for any of the reasons above. Now what?
You’ll need to check the readings frequently to see trends in the humidity levels of your home. You may even want to write them down to track them.
If your hygrometer readings get to 50% frequently, here are some steps you can take to reduce the humidity in your home:
- Purchase a dehumidifier. This is the fastest and most effective way to remove excess humidity from your home.
- Run your air conditioner more. This one is easy, too. Cool air is less humid than warm air, so running your air conditioner helps lower humidity levels throughout your home, especially if you have an HVAC system.
- Fix leaks. Leaks are a huge source of unnecessary moisture in your home. Leaks from faucets, showers, and interior plumbing need to be repaired immediately to save you money on your water bill and prevent mold growth.
- Use exhaust fans more. Most homes have exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Your home may even have an attic fan. You don’t have to wait until these rooms are actively in use before running exhaust fans. One good practice is to turn the bathroom exhaust on when you shower to pull steam out of the room.
- Open the windows on low outdoor humidity days. We discussed earlier how today’s homes are practically airtight. Therefore, once humidity inside is high, it really doesn’t have a way of escaping. If the weather is nice and dry, opening up your windows can help restore the balance inside your home.
Hygrometers are affordable and easy to install, so if you are truly interested in knowing the humidity levels within your home – and being able to prevent mold before it starts – we highly recommend that you purchase one or more, depending on the size of your home.