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Dehumidfiers in Mold & Mildew Prevention



Mold is a naturally occurring type of fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast. Mold is nature’s “recycler,” feeding on dead and decaying organic materials, both inside and outside of homes and other structures. Inside-growing mold poses a significant health hazard. Allergenic molds are a problem for those with allergies or asthma, especially children. Pathogenic molds produce infections, especially in individuals who have weak immune systems. Toxigenic molds, the most dangerous molds, produce mycotoxins -- potent chemical toxins that will make anyone sick if ingested, touched, or even just inhaled. Although there are many different species of mold, none of them are “safe.” All species of mold are a potential health issue to some individuals.  

Mold spores are found virtually everywhere, including inside homes and buildings. As long as there is sufficient water or moisture, there is a risk of mold growth. We are surrounded by airborne mold spores that are far too small to be visible to us. These spores, much smaller than many species of pollen grains, range from 3 to 40 microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). In comparison, a strand of human hair or the width of a piece of paper is about 100 microns thick. 

When the right conditions exist inside a home or building, mold can grow, creating health problems for people spending time in the mold-affected structure. Mold spores are meant to become airborne. That is how mold spreads from one location to the next. As a result, spores growing in basements, crawl spaces, and attics travel on air currents throughout the entire home. You don’t have to be in a room that has mold growth in order to become sick.

To prevent mold growth, homeowners and building owners must control both water intrusions and indoor humidity levels.  

As far as water intrusions like flooding, burst or leaky pipes, or seepage from roofs or foundations, any water-saturated building materials must be dried promptly. There is a very small window of time. The general guideline is that water-affected areas of the home must be dried within 24 to 48 hours. Otherwise, there is risk of mold growth. There are ways to minimize damage from flooding, such as installing foundation flood vents (Smart Vents), a service provided by Cowleys. Water intrusions such as from pipe leaks or roofing issues can be avoided by proper home preventive care and by regular plumbing and roofing inspections. If a small leak occurs, fixing the leak and drying out the area quickly is essential to avoid mold and mildew growth. 

Homeowners can also prevent mold growth by controlling indoor humidity. Humidity is the amount of water in the air. Air, especially during the summer months, contains water in the form of gas (water vapor). Indoor humidity can be caused not only by outdoor weather conditions but also by activities in the home. Whenever we cook, bathe, or dry clothes, we release moisture into the air. Humidity levels are also increased in a home from corroded or leaky pipes, dripping faucets, improper weatherizing, and from ventilated areas that allow outdoor humidity to come inside. Vented crawl spaces are one of the worst culprits responsible for mold growth and a host of other problems. High humidity levels in basements and crawl spaces can adversely affect the entire home, providing an environment where mold will grow and thrive. 

The only long-term solution guaranteed to control humidity levels throughout the entire home is by installing a commercial-grade dehumidifier. With low moisture levels, everyone in the home will be far more comfortable, and just as important, mold will not be able to grow. Dehumidifiers use a fan to pull air into the system. As the air passes over its cooling coils, the water vapor in the air turns back into liquid water and drips downward off the pipes. Many dehumidifiers have a collecting tray. However, a far better and more practical dehumidifier eliminates the need to empty pans by automatically expelling the extracted water into a French drain or sump pump or directly outdoors with a condensate pump. Finally, the dehumidifier heats up the air and expels it back out at room temperature.

It is important to use a high quality, professional-grade dehumidifier specifically engineered to work in basements and crawl spaces. The particular environmental conditions in a home determines the size and type of dehumidifier that will best control moisture and prevent mold growth. Homeowners should find a licensed dealer and installer of commercial-grade dehumidifiers who is experienced with mold problems and can determine the most efficient and effective dehumidifier for your particular home. 

Click here to learn more about our dehumidifiers and mold treatment technology. 

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