Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Spring Showers May Bring Mold and Mildew

Rainy day

Moisture leaks and humidity problems can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause a variety of health problems including allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Moisture problems can also bring about structural damage in your home, such as rot in building materials and the premature failure of paints and finishes; problems that can lead to costly repairs.

You can control mold and mildew problems; the key is to identify the source and take steps to eliminate it as quickly as possible. Spots on walls or ceilings, for example, are often caused by water leaks, while peeling paint or mold may be the result of high humidity levels. The strategies that follow, will help you combat moisture problems in your home.

Controlling water leaks

Fix water leaks immediately to minimize the potential for mold growth. If your attic is damp, or you find water stains on your ceiling, you may have a leaky roof. Hire a roofing contractor to fix the problem. If the leak is from your toilet, bathtub, or shower, you may need to call a plumber. If you feel comfortable fixing the leak yourself, you may want to consult a repair manual. Once the repair is complete, be sure to dry the area completely.

If moisture leaks have led to substantial mold growth or structural problems, it may be necessary to consult a mold remediation specialist or a contractor that specializes in repairing moisture-related damage.

Reducing indoor humidity

Humidity levels of 30 to 50 percent are ideal indoors, but normal daily activities such as showering, cooking and drying clothes, can raise humidity levels, providing a source of mold and mildew. The tips that follow will help to keep the humidity levels in your home within the normal range:

  • Caulk and seal air leaks around windows and doors, and in the attic.
  • Have your air conditioning system checked and make sure it's sized to fit your needs; an oversized unit may fail to maintain comfortable humidity levels.
  • If you have a crawlspace in your basement, place a vapor barrier over dirt floors to prevent soil moisture from entering your home.
  • Use ventilation fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to control moisture. Make sure fans are vented directly outside.
  • Make sure the ventilation hose on your dryer is securely fastened, free of obstacles, and vented directly to the outside.

Heading off basement issues

When it comes to moisture and humidity, basements can be problem areas. Use a dehumidifier during hot, humid weather to control humidity. If you encounter water stains or condensation on walls, fill in cracks and use a water sealant. Also, check your gutters for leaks and make sure your foundation is properly graded. Contact a basement contractor if you have significant problems with moisture or standing water. 

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This policy was last revised on December 13, 2017.

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