Moisture and Mold Remediation: A Symbiotic Relationship

December 10, 2021 by No Comments

Many Gulf Coast homeowners know about mold remediation. Floods have long been a fact of life in and around low-lying coastal cities like New Orleans and Houston. Now, though, rising water levels are an increasingly widespread reality in more coastal cities than before. What’s more, recent climatic events across the country have also inundated inland states like Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Today, water – too much, or too little – has become an issue in much of the country.

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Wherever there is air, there is mold. Invisible legions of its spores-reproductive “seeds”-travel everywhere airborne, but only where they encounter moisture can they germinate. Mold and moisture have a symbiotic relationship: the former is absolutely dependent on the latter to grow. Humidity is water vapor carried in the air. Thus, wherever the air is humid, surfaces tend to be moist and, particularly where floods have saturated the warm, dark inner walls of homes, homeowners are far more likely to need mold remediation.

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This symbiotic relationship is the reason that removal isn’t enough to abate an infestation. Unless the moisture is removed, these pesky fungi will most likely simply grow back, since it is categorically impossible to keep billions of spores at bay outdoors. Mold remediation, on the other hand, can successfully abate and/or nearly eliminate growth inside homes and other buildings. Successful remediation strategies all work on the same scientific principle: to control indoor mold, one must not only remove it from surfaces visible and hidden but also control the indoor humidity vital to its propagation.

The optimal level for moisture in indoor home air is between 30% and 50%; humidity levels higher than 50% are far more favorable to growth. An inexpensive, hand-held humidity meter, or moisture meter, reads and rates the percentage of water vapor suspended in the air. Another common sign that indicates high household humidity is persistent “sweat” on indoor walls, windows, or pipes. Indoor condensation can result from bath or utility use (e.g., showers, dishwashers, dryers), which discharges humidity. Therefore, these rooms should always be ventilated to the outdoors. Immediately drying up household condensation, indoor spills, and other surface moisture is a habit well worth forming. Typically, indoor areas thoroughly dried within 24-48 hours of getting wet will not foster mold.

Properly and safely cleaning away an infestation is the first step in its remediation. Stopping the moisture at the source and reducing indoor humidity are equally important steps in abating and controlling it. Repairing roof leaks, for example, helps keep water out of attics and the insides of walls which when wet form the perfect hidden incubators. Making sure that plumbing, air conditioning, and heating fixtures are tightly sealed is also essential. A dehumidifier may be key to maintaining drier indoor air in very humid climates. Walls that have been saturated for several hours (as when a basement floods, for example), may need gutting in order to eradicate a host of potential hidden hazards to health and/or property from these unsightly, unsanitary and often malodorous fungi.

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