A guide to mold prevention and cleanup

Direct Energy, November 21, 2023

3 minute read

A guide to mold prevention and cleanup

Direct Energy, November 21, 2023

3 minute read

Mold is insidious, dangerous, and gross. It sneaks into areas of your home, like the basement and bathroom, threatening your home and the health of everyone living there. Thus, we've created this mold prevention and cleanup guide to help you keep mold out of the house and get rid of it quickly.

mold on top left corner of door jam and corner walls
mold on top left corner of door jam and corner walls
mold on top left corner of door jam and corner walls

How to prevent mold and mildew

The best solution to mold growth is knowing how to prevent it. Follow the tips below to keep your home free of the blue-green fungus.

Identify problem areas

Areas subject to flooding, such as the basement, can be made mold-resistant. This may require you to pull up the carpet or waterproof the basement. Other problem areas could include windows that regularly form condensation or bathrooms that always feel damp due to poor ventilation. Kitchen sinks and laundry rooms are also areas susceptible to mold growth due to wet towels, cloth mats, and other items that retain moisture. Closets are also notoriously closed off, leading to a lack of ventilation, making them the perfect place for mold to flourish.

Fix water leaks immediately

This will probably cost money, time and effort, but that is a small price when considering the costs of long-term mold damage. Depending on the extent of the mold, a professional cleanup can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $4,000.  Whatever the issue – a leaking pipe, shower, or leaks in the roof and walls – fix the problem before any more arise.

Dry up wet spots

Be mindful of moisture in your home, and do your best to clean spills on the floors and rainwater on the windowsill. Even something as simple as a water spill can cause mold to grow. Run the fan in the bathroom after showering to dry moisture on the walls quickly. This is especially important if your home is carpeted. Work quickly to get water out of the carpet before it seeps into the padding under it. You might want to use a hairdryer to get it as dry as possible.

Don't give mold a home

As in, don't leave wet towels and clothes lying around. It's tempting to leave towels on the bathroom floor when you're in a hurry, but a bundled-up towel dries much more slowly. Instead, hang the towel on a rack to dry and ensure it's fully open to get as much air as possible.

Reduce humidity and condensation

High indoor humidity is a year-round concern. It can make your home feel muggy in summer and clammy in winter, but no matter the temperature, high humidity provides a breeding ground for mold and mildew. To monitor the relative humidity in your home, use an inexpensive digital hygrometer. Relative humidity should be below 50% in the summer and below 40% in cold temperatures. The optimal relative humidity range may be even lower in extremely cold environments. Signs of high indoor humidity include condensation on windows and uninsulated walls, soft or crumbling wood and drywall, musty odors and visible growth of mold or mildew. The first line of defense against humidity problems is to seal, insulate and ventilate the problem areas. If that doesn't solve the problem, supplement with a portable dehumidifier or a whole-home dehumidifier for the most humid climates.

Mildew and mold cleanup guide

If your home already has mold growing, follow these mold cleanup tips to remove the fungus today. But before you get started – if the moldy area takes up more than 10 square feet of space, the mold cleanup should be left to the professionals.

Ventilate the area

Open as many windows and exterior doors to the area as possible and use fans to blow indoor air outside. When you must close and secure the area, use portable dehumidifiers and keep the HVAC system fan running to help dry and ventilate the room as much as possible.

Wear protective clothing

Take proper safety precautions by wearing protective clothing when cleaning mold. Long gloves, goggles, and a respirator mask will limit your exposure to airborne mold, which can make you sick. For more details on what gear to buy, please read "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home" by the EPA. You'll also want to wear old clothes that can be thrown away after your work is done.

Throw away and replace

Some porous materials like ceiling tiles and carpet can easily absorb mold, making it impossible to clean the area thoroughly. Rather than trying to clean mold growing on these types of surfaces, throwing them away and replacing the materials instead is best.

Clean well

Attack hard surfaces with a scrubbing brush and a mixture of bleach and water to remove mold. If your household bleach is over a couple of months old, buy a fresh bottle before mold cleanup, as bleach degrades quickly in unsealed bottles. After the mold is gone, dry the area thoroughly with a hair dryer or fan.

Consider your HVAC and ducts

Suppose there's a chance your mold problem has spread to your air conditioner, furnace or duct system. In that case, you should immediately schedule service from an HVAC technician with mold remediation experience. Mold growth in your HVAC system can be hazardous to your health due to mold spores circulating throughout your ductwork and home.

Don't let mold creep up in your home and take over. These mold prevention and cleanup tips help keep your home safe and free of the harmful fungus.

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